Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is George Clooney Gay?

Reading this morning's headlines made me think; maybe more than usual. The headline on MSN-NOW read: GEORGE CLOONEY DOESN'T CARE IF YOU THINK HE'S GAY. And guess what... Neither do I.

On Monday, the headlines wrote about an actresses boob being shown during the Oscars; on Tuesday, our crazy world was concerned with, not the anti-Semitic goings on around our University campuses, rather, the talk of the day was speculation regarding a Jewish ballplayer's steroid test results (deemed to have been mishandled); and, which Hollywood star filed for divorce on Monday.

If we as a society are so concerned with the private lives of actors, ballplayers, politicians and others who have lives just like we do, then why do we not see headlines that tell us what good these people do to help repair the world?

Why do we not see the headline: GEORGE CLOONEY HAS FOUNDED "NOT ON OUR WATCH, a charity that helps wipe out hunger? Why do we seemingly not care that he supports numerous worthy causes?? Is this of no interest to us???

Please understand that I am not picking on Mr. Clooney. In fact, I applaud him when his reply to the speculative question of his sexual orientation is "I don't give a sh*t"; and neither should we.

If an actress has an addiction problem, why are we critical of her, instead of offering her support; and if a basketball player who is little known is given a chance and shines on the court, why are we so quick to need to know whom he is dating?

The truth is, that all of this talk; all of our ridiculous speculation and discussion and "caring", falls under the label of "Lashon haRa"; Bad Tongue; Gossip. In the Torah, we are commanded
"Lo telech rachil b'ameicha," - Do not go about as a talebearer among your people (Leviticus 19:15). This is the basic prohibition against speaking Lashon Hara. If that isn't enough of a prohibition, how about a few sentences later, in Leviticus 19:18, "V'ahavta l'rei'echa kamocha" - Love your neighbor as yourself. This is the source of the "do unto others" rule, that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated.

What if headlines told the world about your financial troubles; or addictions; or love life or sexual orientation? Is it really any of anyone's business, but yours??

I am often reminded of a man with whom I had worked while he was a patient in a Nursing Facility. A sweet, gentle man of only 57 years of age, who had a small, but relatively successful retail business that fell victim to the economy. When the money stopped coming in, his long time girlfriend left him. When the credit card people started calling him (he had around $15,000 in debts), he tried to reason with them, to no avail; and when he was evicted from his apartment, and his neighbors saw his belongings on the sidewalk, and the Sheriff escort him from the building, they looked away and walked past him.

A heart condition sent him to the hospital, and then to the Nursing Facility where we met.

I spoke with him about his faith. I brought him Tefillin, the Phylacteries worn by Observant Jews while praying, so that he would have a pair, as his pair had been discarded onto the sidewalk with the rest of his belongings in such a way that he could not even identify where they were in the huge pile of "stuff"; I spoke with him about his life and time and again, he referred to the passage above, "V'ahavta l'rei'echa kamocha" - Love your neighbor as yourself. And when no neighbor did, he stopped caring; and when he stopped caring, he stopped eating. And when he stopped eating, he started dying, and when he was so weak that his organs failed, he died. Alone. When he was buried, there was nobody there for me to deliver a eulogy; there were no Mourners to say Kaddish; there was no Shiva. I doubt that anyone even knew that he had passed; or maybe, they were all too busy reading headlines about actors who are or who are not gay.

I wish that I could tell you that this is an isolated incident, but sadly, it is not. I wish that I could write that I will never again see such a patient, but sadly, I cannot.

Today, hundreds, if not thousands of people are in Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Hospice Facilities and hospitals. Alone. With no connection to the faith that they so cherished while growing up; with no Clergy to consult or comfort them; with no neighbor loving them as they do themselves. Where are we?

The George Clooneys of the world are doing their part. They are supporting organizations that provide assistance to these people, and others afflicted by the wrongs of the world.

If we are so concerned with the lives of these stars, then maybe we should take a hint and follow Mr. Clooney's example: He works hard at his job and is very good at it; he gives to others and could care less what people think of his personal life. It IS his life, after all.

The poet Linda Ellis wrote it best in her poem "The Dash", which represents the dash on one's grave marker between the dates of the decedent's birth and death. Linda so beautifully wrote:

For it matters not how much we own;
The cars the house the cash
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

New Years Resolutions can be made all year long, of course. Let us resolve to ourselves to remember these words; to love our neighbor as we do ourselves; and if we continue to feel the need to be in such awe of celebrities, let us walk behind their lead and give more and take less.

From the left coast, in sunny, but chilly Southern California, I wish you Ahavah u'Vrachot, Love and Blessings and of course, Shabbat Shalom.

--Rabbi Alan Abrams

Rabbi Abrams is the founder of Mobile Rabbinical Chaplaincy Services which provides visitation to elderly and infirm Jewish patients and residents in the Greater Los Angeles area. MRCS is a recognized 501(c)3 organization and is supported solely by the generosity of others. Please visit for information.

No comments:

Post a Comment