Rabbi Shmuley Unleashed

Rabbi Shmuley Unleashed

Michael Jackson’s Life Could have Been Saved

This Friday marks one year since the passing of Michael Jackson. His
legacy remains highly controversial. On one side there are ardent fans who consider
him the central inspiration of their lives. On the other there are strident critics
who believe he was hopelessly weird with an unhealthy interest in children. In
the middle are those who simply love his music and miss his talent.


The truth about Michael as I knew and understood him was something else
entirely. Michael Jackson forever remained the broken boy who yearned for a
normal childhood but was thrust reluctantly into a spotlight that slowly became
addictive. Immersed in a celebrity culture rife with human corruption, he
yearned to be innocent. Starved of affection, he spent his life looking for love
but ultimately settled for attention. Surrounded by sycophants who indulged his
every unhealthy whim, he longed to find an authentic and spiritual environment.
And trapped in a cocoon of incarcerating fame, he craved to consecrate his
celebrity to a cause larger than himself. 



The tragedy of his life was his failure to achieve these noble aims.
Michael knew that G-d had given him a special gift and with it the power to
‘heal the world, make it a better place.’ He understood the responsibility of
celebrity and was devastated as his was slowly transformed into notoriety. He
hated to be hated and was crushed by the chasm between what he saw as his
sincere intentions to do good verses the uncharitable public perception of him
as a shallow materialist.


Once in the midst of the thirty hours of recordings we did together
for publication in a book that would allow Michael to speak directly to the
public, he revealed how defamatory his celebrity had become. “You get tired and
it just wears you down. You can’t go somewhere where they don’t manipulate what
you do and say, that bothers me so much, and you are nothing like the person
that they write about, nothing. To get called Whacko, that’s not nice. People
think something is wrong with you because they make it up. I am nothing like
that. I am the opposite of that.”



Polite to a fault, he was a soft and gentle soul who prided himself
on being different to other celebrities. Whereas they partied in nightclubs,
Michael loved being around ordinary families. Where they put, as Michael said,
needles in their arms, he was a vegetarian who wouldn’t be caught dead with a
street drug. And where they, as Michael maintained, engaged in tawdry relationships,
Michael preferred the company of innocent kids.


What he could not see was that overindulging in medication prescribed
by a doctor was just as destructive as a street drug and was motivated by the
same celebrity emptiness. He was also oblivious to his own excess when it came
to kids. It was one thing to show kindness and friendship to children. It was
another thing entirely to invite them into your bed.



I do not for a moment believe Michael was a pedophile. Those who judge
him as such forget that the only time he was charged he was utterly acquitted,
and it is time for the public to exonerate him as well. But he gave himself
license to cross lines of basic propriety that brought him into disrepute and
soiled his message as to the purity and innocence that adults could learn from
children. For a man who spent his life trying to educate the public as to the
wonders of childhood, this was a monumental failure, and he knew it. The
suspicion cast on him by a public whose love he had spent a lifetime
cultivating marked the principal sorrow of his life. It would have tragic
consequences when he turned increasingly to painkillers to numb the ache.



A year after his death what most haunts me is the knowledge that
Michael’s life could so easily have been saved. What Michael needed was not
painkillers but counseling, not the numbing of an inner woundedness through
drugs but the awakening of an inner conscience through spiritual guidance. He
needed a wise voice in his ear guiding him to a mastery of his demons before
they consumed him. Any number of people could have rescued Michael from
impeding oblivion. Most of all, he craved the love and validation of his
father. What emerges most strikingly in our recorded conversations –
conversations that Michael knew would be read by a wide audience, perhaps
including his parents – was the hurt he felt toward his father on the one hand,
and the extreme affection he harbored for him on the other. Michael had many
fans, but he played primarily to an audience of one.



But while his life is sadly irretrievable, the lessons to be culled
from his life are not. Few were as eloquent in articulating the profound lessons
parents could learn from being around their children. Fewer still were more
attuned to the lifelong scarring of children who were victims of neglect. I can
still hear Michael’s daily admonishments to me to look my children in the eye
and tell them I loved them and to never allow a night to go by without reading
them a bedtime story.


When first I learned of his death my immediate reaction, I am ashamed
to say, was anger. You silly man, I thought. How could you? You knew your children,
whom you adored, depended on you. You were the most devoted father. How could
you orphan them? You Michael, to whom G-d bequeathed such unequaled talent,
just threw it away?



Twelve months later the anger is gone, replaced by a deep sadness. He
was an imperfect candle. But his striving to go beyond the caricature he had become
and redeem his life by visiting orphanages and hospitals was illuminating. The
lyrics of his songs spoke to the human yearning to mend the broken pieces of
the human soul and become whole. Whether it was encouraging himself and his fans
to be the man looking in the mirror, or healing the world, he wished for his
music to inspire people to choose goodness.



A year after his untimely passing it is time to finally mourn
Michael as a man. To remember him not as an entertainer, or to miss him as an international
icon – an object without feelings or pain – but as a struggling soul who tried
to transform the pain of his broken childhood into an inspirational message of parents
cherishing their children. It is time to evaluate Michael his life not in the
context of an idol who had much money and fame but as a man who searched for a
real home that was not a stage.


Comments read comments(10)
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posted June 21, 2010 at 4:07 pm

This is one of the most sensible writings I have come across about this polemic mega star. We all loved him and by the same token, became his executioner. He touched our souls and made us angry. But most of all, we felt sad for loosing him to humanity. What the media can structure for a star and unstructure for the masses is amazing to me. Let´s never forget he was a human being with God given talents that thet were shared with all. Let´s not repeat this story. God Bless him and he is the one to judge him. Not us.
I think Rabbi, that this same analysis could be applicable and relevant to some of the fallen celebrities that are still alive. Reach out please. Let´s not wait until the are gone in despair.
Best regards, from Panama City , Panama.

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posted June 21, 2010 at 5:38 pm

I would not read anything by this Rabbi if God told me to, he is just capitalizing on the death of Michael. He is the same person who released personal tapes, wrote a book on personal information he received in counseling sessions with Michael. I wish he would keep Michael’s name our of his mouth.
There have been lots of sensible and true writings about Michel especially by the Journalist by the name of Charles Thompson and that is who this Lying Rabbi is now trying to mimic because this lying Rabbi knows that Michael fans are not behind him and therefore he is not making the money he thought he would make so now he is trying to say positive things about Michael like he truly knew something.

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posted June 22, 2010 at 4:36 am

Any other MJ fans planning to watch the TV Guide Network’s Michael Jackson special, Gone Too Soon, on June 25th? I’m really looking forward to it!
Check it out:

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posted June 22, 2010 at 4:53 am

This display of “deep concern” is totally transparent. All that “America’s Rabbi” has ever done since Michael Jackson’s death is try to enforce the idea that Jackson was a blundering idiot and wouldn’t have died if he converted to Judaism and sold him an interview.
Eventually he didn’t require the permission anyway because Michael Jackson was KILLED in his sleep, giving him the perfect opportunity to capitalize and try and disguise it as some noble obligation, that Michael would have WANTED him to sell taped conversations to, i don’t know, carry on his lagacy and reveal the truth?….Just another rat trying to sell a book. No wonder Michael fired him, exactly one of the ‘syncophants’ this leech daringly refers to. And then to DARE talk about his children as though he cares for their well-being while pulling this stunt? America makes me sick.

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posted June 22, 2010 at 10:51 am

Say what you want, but this piece of writing is one of the most balanced, insightful and meaningful things to emerge from the glut of coverage already streaming all over the web, tv, and print this week.
Boteach’s nuanced decontruction of MJ’s influences, emotional state and humanity have the ability to speak to mainstream society in a way that other, more fanatical works, do not, and that is a good thing, which helps brings a more human side of MJ to the world.

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choddie buchanan

posted June 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm

this is the first thing i’ve read about MJ lately. and it was REALLY good!
thanx (i dunno why i’m crying).

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posted June 23, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Truly shameless.
Look up the rabbi’s website. You will find that he is selling “the Michael Jackson tapes” at a discounted rate (25%) for the 1 year commemoration of his death.
If 1 year of Michael Jackson’s death is worth a 25% discount on “the Michael Jackson tapes” does that mean that in January people will be able to get it with a 37.5% discount?

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Herb Greene

posted June 25, 2010 at 8:00 am

You are a terrible excuse for a rabbi. You have given up any legitimacy or moral authority in your whorish attempt to make yourself famous. If you were one of Jackson’s “spiritual” advisors, you must explain to G_d why you had no palpable effect on his monstrous life. I repudiate you as a rabbi, and as a Jew. Go away from the public stage, and try to regain some integrity–study the Talmud, and stop flogging this dead pedophile.

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posted June 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Natalie: “America makes me sick.”
Addressing your post compelled me to remind people of the age-old tactics of media and their creation of “famed personalities” throughout the world. Through media outlets, every country in the world can be thrust into persuasive opinion, and of the such bias, I consider mostly inaccurate, but a binding contract to resolve issues and perpetuate interest. America’s majority are just like anyone else in the world, created the same as any other human being with basic humanistic desires and needs alike. It is unprofitable to blame ‘America’ but rather more profitable to reasonably consider the sources of the world and why…

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posted June 28, 2010 at 11:52 am

A very good commentary. I, like you, have never thought Michael was a Pedophile, but a poorly parented man, who was trying to help others feel more “worthy” than he did.
I also find it interesting that someone would send you such a hateful comment, in public, to cast embarrassment upon you and accuse Michael
of being a Pedophile….that, in my opinion, is not very “Jewish”.

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