Star Wars & Judaism I: A New Hope

The Force & a Higher Power

Obi-Wan Kenobi: "Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."

Darth Vader: "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force."

Admiral Motti: "Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels' hidden fort..."

Suddenly Motti chokes and starts to turn blue under Vader's Force-choking.

Darth Vader: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

Grand Moff Tarkin: "Enough of this! Vader, release him!"

Darth Vader: "As you wish."

Han Solo: "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."

Luke Skywalker: "You don't believe in the Force, do you?"

Han Solo: "Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny."

Ben smiles quietly.

Han Solo: "It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

“I see Star Wars as taking all the issues that religion represents and trying to distill them down into a more modern and easily accessible construct–that there is a greater mystery out there. I put the Force into the movie in order to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people–more a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system. I wanted to make it so that young people would begin to ask questions about the mystery. Not having enough interest in the mysteries of life to ask the question, ‘Is there a God or is there not a God?’–that is for me the worst thing that can happen. I think you should have an opinion about that. Or you should be saying, ‘I’m looking. I’m very curious about this, and I am going to continue to look until I can find an answer, and if I can’t find an answer, then I’ll die trying.’ I think it’s important to have a belief system and to have faith.” -George Lucas in Time (,9171,23298-2,00.html)

I am not inserting any texts from the Bible or Talmud here - there are so many texts on God :)

Returning a Lost Object

Luke Skywalker: "You know, I think that R2 unit we bought might have been stolen."
Uncle Owen: "What makes you think that?"
Luke Skywalker: "Well, I stumbled across a recording while I was cleaning him. He says he belongs to someone called Obi-Wan Kenobi."

Luke Skywalker: "What happened?
Old Ben: "Rest easy, son, you've had a busy day. You're fortunate you're still in one piece."
Luke Skywalker: "Ben? Ben Kenobi! Boy, am I glad to see you!"
Old Ben: "The Jundland wastes are not to be traveled lightly. Tell me young Luke, what brings you out this far?"
Luke Skywalker: "Oh, this little droid! I think he's searching for his former master... I've never seen such devotion in a droid before... there seems to be no stopping him. He claims to be the property of an Obi-Wan Kenobi. Is he a relative of yours? Do you know who he's talking about?"
Ben ponders this for a moment, scratching his scruffy beard.
Old Ben: "Obi-Wan Kenobi... Obi-Wan? Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time... a long time."

לֹֽא־תִרְאֶה֩ אֶת־שׁ֨וֹר אָחִ֜יךָ א֤וֹ אֶת־שֵׂיוֹ֙ נִדָּחִ֔ים וְהִתְעַלַּמְתָּ֖ מֵהֶ֑ם הָשֵׁ֥ב תְּשִׁיבֵ֖ם לְאָחִֽיךָ׃
If you see your fellow’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your fellow.
וְאִם־לֹ֨א קָר֥וֹב אָחִ֛יךָ אֵלֶ֖יךָ וְלֹ֣א יְדַעְתּ֑וֹ וַאֲסַפְתּוֹ֙ אֶל־תּ֣וֹךְ בֵּיתֶ֔ךָ וְהָיָ֣ה עִמְּךָ֗ עַ֣ד דְּרֹ֤שׁ אָחִ֙יךָ֙ אֹת֔וֹ וַהֲשֵׁבֹת֖וֹ לֽוֹ׃
If your fellow does not live near you or you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home and it shall remain with you until your fellow claims it; then you shall give it back to him.
וְכֵ֧ן תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה לַחֲמֹר֗וֹ וְכֵ֣ן תַּעֲשֶׂה֮ לְשִׂמְלָתוֹ֒ וְכֵ֣ן תַּעֲשֶׂ֜ה לְכָל־אֲבֵדַ֥ת אָחִ֛יךָ אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאבַ֥ד מִמֶּ֖נּוּ וּמְצָאתָ֑הּ לֹ֥א תוּכַ֖ל לְהִתְעַלֵּֽם׃ (ס)
You shall do the same with his ass; you shall do the same with his garment; and so too shall you do with anything that your fellow loses and you find: you must not remain indifferent.


Ben Kenobi: "Your father's lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster."

Luke pushes a button on the handle. A long beam shoots out and flickers there. The light plays across the ceiling.

Ben Kenobi: "An elegant weapon for a more civilized time. For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire."

לֹא יֵצֵא הָאִישׁ לֹא בְסַיִף, וְלֹא בְקֶשֶׁת, וְלֹא בִתְרִיס, וְלֹא בְאַלָּה, וְלֹא בְרֹמַח. וְאִם יָצָא, חַיָּב חַטָּאת.

רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, תַּכְשִׁיטִין הֵן לוֹ.

וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, אֵינָן אֶלָּא לִגְנַאי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה ב) וְכִתְּתוּ חַרְבוֹתָם לְאִתִּים וַחֲנִיתוֹתֵיהֶם לְמַזְמֵרוֹת, לֹא יִשָּׂא גּוֹי אֶל גּוֹי חֶרֶב וְלֹא יִלְמְדוּ עוֹד מִלְחָמָה.

A man may not go out with a sword, bow, shield, club, or spear on Shabbat; but, if he does, go out, he incurs a sin-offering.

Rabbi Eliezer says: "They are ornaments for him."

And the sages say: "They are nothing but a disgrace, as it is said, 'And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more' (Isaiah 2:4)."

Lying vs. Truthfulness

Darth Vader: "Don't play games with me, Your Highness. You weren't on any mercy mission this time. You passed directly through a restricted system. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by Rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you."

Princess Leia: "I don't know what you're talking about. I'm a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan...."

Darth Vader: "You're a part of the Rebel Alliance...and a traitor. Take her away!"

Grand Moff Tarkin: "Not after we demonstrate the power of this station. In a way, you have determined the choice of the planet that'll be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with the location of the Rebel base, I have chosen to test this station's destructive power... on your home planet of Alderaan."

Princess Leia: "No! Alderaan is peaceful. We have no weapons. You can't possibly..."

Grand Moff Tarkin: "You would prefer another target? A military target? Then name the system!"

Tarkin waves menacingly toward Leia.

Grand Moff Tarkin: "I grow tired of asking this. So it'll be the last time. Where is the Rebel base?"

Leia overhears an intercom voice announcing the approach to Alderaan.

Princess Leia: "Dantooine. They're on Dantooine."

Grand Moff Tarkin to Darth Vader: "There. You see Lord Vader, she can
be reasonable."
Grand Moff Tarkin to Admiral Motti: "Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready."

Princess Leia: "What?"

Grand Moff Tarkin: "You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration. But don't worry. We will deal with your Rebel friends soon enough."

Princess Leia: "No!"

Luke Skywalker: "No, my father didn't fight in the wars. He was a navigator on a spice freighter."

Ben Kenobi: "That's what your uncle told you. He didn't hold with your father's ideals. Thought he should have stayed here and not gotten involved."

Luke Skywalker: "You fought in the Clone Wars?"

Ben Kenobi: "Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight the same as your father."

מִדְּבַר־שֶׁ֖קֶר תִּרְחָ֑ק וְנָקִ֤י וְצַדִּיק֙ אַֽל־תַּהֲרֹ֔ג כִּ֥י לֹא־אַצְדִּ֖יק רָשָֽׁע׃
Keep far from a false charge; do not bring death on those who are innocent and in the right, for I will not acquit the wrongdoer.
(יח) יֵ֣שׁ בּ֭וֹטֶה כְּמַדְקְר֣וֹת חָ֑רֶב וּלְשׁ֖וֹן חֲכָמִ֣ים מַרְפֵּֽא׃ (יט) שְֽׂפַת־אֱ֭מֶת תִּכּ֣וֹן לָעַ֑ד וְעַד־אַ֝רְגִּ֗יעָה לְשׁ֣וֹן שָֽׁקֶר׃ (כ) מִ֭רְמָה בְּלֶב־חֹ֣רְשֵׁי רָ֑ע וּֽלְיֹעֲצֵ֖י שָׁל֣וֹם שִׂמְחָֽה׃ (כא) לֹא־יְאֻנֶּ֣ה לַצַּדִּ֣יק כָּל־אָ֑וֶן וּ֝רְשָׁעִ֗ים מָ֣לְאוּ רָֽע׃ (כב) תּוֹעֲבַ֣ת ה' שִׂפְתֵי־שָׁ֑קֶר וְעֹשֵׂ֖י אֱמוּנָ֣ה רְצוֹנֽוֹ׃ (כג) אָדָ֣ם עָ֭רוּם כֹּ֣סֶה דָּ֑עַת וְלֵ֥ב כְּ֝סִילִ֗ים יִקְרָ֥א אִוֶּֽלֶת׃

(18) There is blunt talk like sword-thrusts, But the speech of the wise is healing. (19) Truthful speech abides forever, A lying tongue for but a moment. (20) Deceit is in the minds of those who plot evil; For those who plan good there is joy. (21) No harm befalls the righteous, But the wicked have their fill of misfortune. (22) Lying speech is an abomination to ad-nai, but those who act faithfully please Him. (23) A clever man conceals what he knows, but the mind of dullards cries out folly.

תנו רבנן כיצד מרקדין לפני הכלה?

בית שמאי אומרים

§ The Sages taught: How does one dance before the bride?

Beit Shammai say:

כלה כמות שהיא ובית הלל אומרים כלה נאה וחסודה

אמרו להן בית שמאי לבית הלל הרי שהיתה חיגרת או סומא אומרים לה כלה נאה וחסודה והתורה אמרה (שמות כג, ז) מדבר שקר תרחק

אמרו להם בית הלל לבית שמאי לדבריכם מי שלקח מקח רע מן השוק ישבחנו בעיניו או יגננו בעיניו הוי אומר ישבחנו בעיניו

מכאן אמרו חכמים לעולם תהא דעתו של אדם מעורבת עם הבריות

"The bride as she is, emphasizing her good qualities."

And Beit Hillel say: "A fair and attractive bride."

Beit Shammai said to Beit Hillel: "In a case where the bride was lame or blind, does one say with regard to her: A fair and attractive bride? But the Torah states: 'Keep you from a false matter' (Exodus 23:7)."

Beit Hillel said to Beit Shammai: "According to your statement, with regard to one who acquired an inferior acquisition from the market, should another praise it and enhance its value in his eyes or condemn it and diminish its value in his eyes? You must say that he should praise it and enhance its value in his eyes and refrain from causing him anguish."

From here the Sages said: "A person’s disposition should always be empathetic with mankind."

רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר, על שלשה דברים העולם עומד, על הדין ועל האמת ועל השלום, שנאמר (זכריה ח) אמת ומשפט שלום שפטו בשעריכם .

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel used to say: "On three things does the world stand: On justice, on truth, and on peace, As it is said: 'Judge with truth, justice, and peace in your gates' (Zekhariah 8.16)."

וא"ר אילעא משום רבי אלעזר בר' שמעון מותר לו לאדם לשנות בדבר השלום שנאמר (בראשית נ, טז) אביך צוה וגו כה תאמרו ליוסף אנא שא נא וגו'

ר' נתן אומר מצוה שנאמר (שמואל א טז, ב) ויאמר שמואל איך אלך ושמע שאול והרגני וגו'

דבי רבי ישמעאל תנא גדול השלום שאף הקדוש ברוך הוא שינה בו דמעיקרא כתיב (בראשית יח, יב) ואדוני זקן ולבסוף כתיב ואני זקנתי:

Rabbi Ile’a said from the name of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon: "It is permitted for a person to depart from the truth in a matter that will bring peace, as it is stated: 'Your father commanded before he died, saying: So you shall say to Joseph: Please pardon your brothers’ crime, etc.' (Genesis 50:16–17)."

Rabbi Natan says: "It is a mitzva to depart from the truth in order to preserve peace, as it is stated: 'And Samuel said: How can I go, and Saul will hear and kill me' (I Samuel 16:2)."

It was taught in the school of Rabbi Yishmael: Great is peace, as even the Holy One, Blessed be He, departed from the truth for it. As, initially it is written that Sarah said of Abraham: “And my lord is old” (Genesis 18:12), and in the end it is written that God told Abraham that Sarah said: “And I am old” (Genesis 18:13).

א"ר ירמיה בר אבא ארבע כיתות אין מקבלות פני שכינה כת ליצים וכת חניפים וכת שקרים וכת מספרי לשון הרע

Rabbi Yirmeya bar Abba says: "Four classes of people will not greet the Divine Presence: The class of cynics, and the class of flatterers, and the class of liars, and the class of slanderers."

Comforting Mourners

Luke looks downward sadly, shaking his head back and forth, as the princess smiles comfortingly at him.

Luke Skywalker: "I can't believe he's gone."

Artoo-Detoo beeps a reply.

Princess Leia: "There wasn't anything you could have done."

א"ר יוחנן אין מנחמין רשאין לומר דבר עד שיפתח אבל שנאמר (איוב ג, א) אחרי כן פתח איוב את פיהו והדר ויען אליפז התימני

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: "Consolers are not permitted to speak words until the mourner opens and speaks first, as it is stated: 'And they sat down with him upon the ground for seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word to him; for they saw that his suffering was very great. After this Job opened his mouth' (Job 2:13–3:1), and afterward: 'And Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said' (Job 4:1)."


Suddenly the slimy alien disappears in a blinding flash of light. Han pulls his smoking gun from beneath the table as the other patron look on in bemused amazement. Han gets up and starts out of the cantina, flipping the bartender some coins as he leaves.

Han Solo: "Sorry about the mess."

תנו רבנן אין לו דמים אם זרחה השמש עליו (שמות כב, א) - וכי השמש עליו בלבד זרחה אלא אם ברור לך הדבר כשמש שאין לו שלום עמך הרגהו

ואם לאו אל תהרגהו

The Sages taught in a baraita: The verse states: “If a burglar is found breaking in, and is smitten and dies, there shall not be blood shed on his account. If the sun is risen upon him, there shall be blood shed on his account” (Exodus 22:1–2) - But did the sun rise only upon him? Rather, If the matter is as clear to you as the sun that the burglar is not coming to you in peace, but rather his intention is to kill you, arise and kill him first.

But if you are not sure about his intentions, do not kill him.

Saving Others

גמ׳ תנו רבנן: מניין לרודף אחר חבירו להרגו שניתן להצילו בנפשו?
תלמוד לומר לא תעמוד על דם רעך (ויקרא יט, טז)

The Sages taught: From where that with regard to one who pursues another to kill him, may be saved at life?
You learn to say [from the verse]: “You shall not stand idly by the blood of another”
(Leviticus 19:16).

תניא מניין לרואה את חבירו שהוא טובע בנהר או חיה גוררתו או לסטין באין עליו שהוא חייב להצילו?

תלמוד לומר לא תעמוד על דם רעך

It was taught: From where is it derived that one who sees another drowning in a river, or being dragged away by a wild animal, or being attacked by bandits [listin], is obligated to save him?

You learn to say [from the verse]: "You shall not stand idly by the blood of another.”