My colleague, Rabbi Joshua Haberman, challenged by a Bat Mitzvah who wanted to speak about the movie Twilight, took up the challenge, studied and spoke about the Jewish lessons in this teen movie phenomenon. I confess that while I have seen 3 movies this vacation (my goal is a solid 5), Twilight has not been at the top of my list.
His Bat Mitzvah student Sophie’s own commentary is here.
Rabbi Haberman in his blog On One Foot writes:
…immediately I saw Edward Cullen, the “good” vampire here, as the embodiment of the Jewish ideal of self restraint. Pirke Avot considers the true hero to be the one who can control his own urges. For Edward to manange to overcome his innate bloodthirst and not devour Bella is akin to a human choosing to stop breathing and a feat no less spectacular than the way Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav used to act.
Further, he comments on the Jewish notions of good and evil:
Judaism’s notion of the good and evil inclinations (the yetzer ha tov and yetzer ha ra) fit well into the world of “Twilight.” I collected some sources and compared them to quotes from the book in my service handout. You can see some of the sources in an interesting article at MyJewishLearning.com. According to tradition, we are born with an inclination to do evil, but it is only at the onset of adolescence, bar mitzvah, that our inclination to do good sets in. Perfect timing for Bella and Edward (although Edward’s inclination to do good has developed quite a bit more).