Dr. House vs. Chabad

Lubavitch.com has a post from writer Mordechai Shinefield breaking down the recent “Chabad” episode of “House” (which he notes was the highest-rated program of the night):

The episode opened with a wedding officiated by California Chabad House representative Rabbi Yossi Mintz, and the singing of a Chabad style Chasidic melody. Richard Kaplan, a cantor from East Bay, sang the niggun for the episode.

Kaplan, who was contacted by the music department at NBC Universal, says that he is “not formally connected with Chabad, but [I] have great respect for Chabad and derive great benefit from Chabad teachings.”

The episode of the medical drama revolved around a music executive (played by Heather Joy Sher Laura Silverman) who recently traded in her secular life for the world Chasidism actress played Tova, a recent returnee to Judaism. She is suffering from the expected mix of mysterious physical symptoms, plus, House insists, some sort of altered mental state that would explain her sharp turnabout (“She went directly to the extremes of Chasidism. A life of stringent rules. She became a masochist”).

In the end, Shinefield writes, the woman’s problem is strictly physical, poking a hole in House’s mantra that “people don’t change.”

People do change. And as this show illustrates, even within the television industry, attitudes change, at least towards those who, like Chabad Chasidim, put no stock in the lifestyles and values of popular television.

Creator David Shore, 46, is not Orthodox himself. He grew up in what he calls ‘a typical Reform-type Jewish household,’ and now attends a Conservative synagogue in LA.

But the show he created does portray the baal teshuvah couple—human beings with the foibles of human beings—as loving, sincere, and committed to their faith and G-d.

To be sure, the dialogues contained a few one-liners stereotyping Chasidic Jews. And yet, in unscripted irony, the episode might have actually piqued the curiosity of some of the many millions glued to the tube, and motivated them enough to look beyond the TV screen for real life fulfillment that last week’s character seems to have found in living Jewishly.

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