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You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

Movie Recommendation

by Izzy Kalman

(December 2008)

Personally, I’m not a great fan of Adam Sandler movies, thought there are some exceptions, and this certainly is one of them. I laughed my head off practically the whole time. My family members were starting to get annoyed with me for rewinding so often (we saw it at home), but it’s because I didn’t want to miss any of the jokes.

In You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008), Adam Sandler plays The Zohan, an Israeli counter-intelligence agent who can out-Bond James Bond with two arms tied behind his back. He decides to give up his life of violence and moves to New York City to become a hair dresser. I am warning you that most viewers will not enjoy it as much as I did because they will not be able to appreciate the humor. It helps to be familiar with Israelis to fully appreciate it, for it makes non-stop fun of the Israeli character and culture. However, the movie is an equal-opportunity insulter, as it makes fun of Arabs and Americans as well.

But there is really only one reason I am recommending it in this Newsletter, and that is because it illustrates one of the lessons I teach: Turning the Other Cheek. I explain at my seminars that while there is no official religion in the United States, the great majority of Americans are Christians, and it seems to me like most Christians have a hard time understanding and accepting what Jesus taught. One of the most difficult of his teachings for people to accept is the idea of turning the other cheek. I have heard many Christians saying, “Yes, I love Jesus, but I can’t turn the other cheek. I am not a loser or a doormat. I am not going to let myself get beaten up!” Jesus wasn’t crazy, and he didn’t hate us. He didn’t want us being losers and doormats. He didn’t want us getting beaten up. Jesus understood that turning the other cheek is not a recipe for losing. It is a recipe for winning, and it creates a win/win situation. It puts a stop to the violence.

At the end of the movie, The Zohan faces off against his arch-rival, the Arab known as The Phantom (played by the great actor, John Turturro). The Zohan literally turns the other cheek as The Phantom is striking his cheeks, and before long The Phantom stops. Then they reconcile, and the Arabs and Israelis in the neighborhood decide to live in peace.

Hats off to Adam Sandler and the other Jewish screenwriters who promote that earlier Jew’s (Jesus’s) teachings!

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