A review by Jenni:
What I love about this episode:
Several aspects of this episode made me think of what Christianity
(Catholicism in particular) carried over from Judaism and what
we've lost from it. While I agree that an all Latin, all the
time Mass had to go; it's kinda a shame we stopped learning Latin
at all. I admire that Judaism has retained some Hebrew in
their services. And on a less spiritual level, knowing two
language is just plain good for you brain-wise.
I was really struck by Alan pausing to pray when he hears the
ambulance. Whether that's taught or just something he does,
I dunno. But if it is taught, that would be another
similarity. I was taught to pray the "Hail Mary" when one is
heard. (Random note: I'm 28 and still can't tell the
difference between a police, fire, and ambulance siren... so I end
up praying after them all.)
Kudos to the writers on introducing Pascal's wager! And in a
much better way than it was taught to me. I was basically
told it was "Believe in God because if He exists, yay for
you! If He doesn't, well, then you won't know any better
cause you'll blink out of existence. But if you choose not
to believe in God and He does exist... big trouble for you!"
Behaving morally never entered into it as I was taught. So
while I don't think any version of Pascal's wager is enough to
build a deep faith on, I definitely have greater appreciation for
a take on it that pushes for moral behavior and not just a "save
your skin" emphasis.
I wish I knew more about that lantern in the synagogue. The
"eternal light" Andrew and Alan discussed. Because at church
we also have a lantern that, as far as I know, is never not
lit. So I wonder if it, too, is carry over. "God's
light is eternal" is also a nice quote from Andrew in that
scene. Also "The Lord, our God, is near us." Deut.
"The prayers of a righteous man avail
much." So it's technically James 5:16 but I like that Tess
says it to Ross. Although, of course, I don't believe it
applies only to men...
"You know, faith is a very powerful thing when you wrap yourself
up in it." There's a nice, more original Tess quote.
I thought Tess spoke very truthfully when she told Ross he kept
his dad's tefillin cause a part of him must have still
believed. I spose it's possible someone would keep something
for only sentimental reasons. But I'm inclined to believe
some trace belief or at least a desire to once again believe is
often at the root of the decision to hold onto a religious item.
I thought the dynamics between Ross, Alan, and God were really
interesting and much more complicated than I recalled. I
thought this episode was about a grandfather who lost his faith
following a tragedy and couldn't imagine that his son held
on. And it's partly that. But there's this aspect of
Ross seeming to be actually jealous of God. Alan trusts in
God's power more than he does his earthly father's and that angers
Ross. That's a much more interesting route for the story to
take, IMO. Definitely more original.
Alan's "fan club" of students at the hospital was very
touching. And, I think, true to life, too. A high
school teacher of mine passed away recently and so many former
students reached out to him. If you ever hear a teacher who
meant a lot to you is ill: at least send a note. I did and I
know that if I hadn't, I'd be regretting it now.
The sequence of Ross putting on the tefillin and saying the Hebrew
prayer is really powerful. Then when he starts in with his
heartfelt and pained questioning of God about why his righteous
son is dying while he recovered as a disbeliever... it really gets
at the heart of what can make faith so difficult.
TBAA is full of quotes about coincidence and I especially like
this variation from Monica to Ross: "There are no coincidences
with God, only people who refuse to see the hand of God and the
miracles that happen every day."
I just really like the idea of a second bar mitzvah. It
would be nice if religions had more to offer as far as marking
occasions past young adulthood.
What I didn't love about
a minor gripe: When Alan is in the classroom and has a blurry
episode, Andrew's peering at him with his head tilted down.
This is the same posture the demons often use when causing
problems so it looks kinda sinister. I would have preferred
one of Andrew's famous straight-on compassionate looks... like he
makes right after.
This isn't a complaint about the episode, just life in
general. Ross typifies the type of atheist who really
bothers me. Heck, he typifies what bothers me in theists,
come to think of it. It's not that I expect or even want
everyone to agree with me on spiritual matters. But I have
little respect for people who belittle others' beliefs or act all
haughty about their own as if it's just the greatest and the rest
of us are so hopelessly mistaken.
I can remember right about when this season originally aired, some
people on one of the TBAA lists started to complain about how
Monica cried all the time during revelations. And I remember
thinking "Really? I hadn't noticed." Well, I do
now... I'm all for tears but it really did seem to get to be
too much IMO.
Has anyone ever been in a class where someone raised their
hand to answer a question sarcastically? This happens on TV
(as here) *all* the time. I have never personally witnessed
it. I've seen people give funny answers when they're picked
and did not raise their hand, but I seriously have no memory of
this cliche ever really happening in that manner.
What the heck was that bright green juice Ross was having Tess
drink!? What in nature is that shade of green and edible!?!
Andrew wearing the yarmulke made me wonder what elements of
religious observance the angels can and cannot take part in.
Wearing a yarmulke seems pretty non-controversial since, as far as
I know, all men (Jewish or not) are expected to wear yarmulkes in
synagogues. But I just wonder about what they'd be able to
sing and pray, what religious gestures would be permitted,
etc. Cause sometimes there's a fine line between being
respectful of a religion and seeming to express it as your own.
Who knows what tefillin are? Granted, I couldn't spell it
without checking but I knew what they are. So is it
realistic that Ross would be so surprised that Tess knew? To
me that seemed kinda weird but it's possible I only know what
tefillin are from Theology classes which I know not everyone
takes. Although, actually, I may have learned about them
from Chaim Potok's The
Just something I wondered about: Was that really Kirk Douglas' dad
in the photograph of "Ross" and his dad?
I could have sworn that I once read in an angel book that, in
Judaism, it was thought that when a person was dying the angel of
death stood at the foot of their bed. So in the scene where
Alan was dying, I thought it would have been better if Andrew was
in that location. However... I can now find no such
indication of this belief. So... I'm thinking I may have
dreamed it. But has anyone heard of this?
I don't have a section for answered questions
so I'll put this here. When I watched this, I was trying to
remember who Jack Duvall, to whom this episode is dedicated, was.
And I had an inkling that he was John Dye's grandpa. After
some research, I've verified this. So if anyone saw that and
wondered, now you know. I remember praying for Mr. Dye and
his family at the time. And this was a good reminder to do
that again. I lost my grandpa a couple years before and I
know even years later there are still very hard days.
that made me feel swoony:
Honestly... I think I really am starting to prefer Andrew's short
hair. I don't even quite know why. Maybe it's some
reference to my own past long forgotten by me.
I love that Andrew shoves the dumpster to save the baby. Not
only am I obviously glad the baby was unharmed but I just wrote a
story scene in which Andrew behaved in such a Search and Rescue
like way. But I couldn't, at the time, recall a TBAA scene
in which Andrew seemed more S and R than anything. But
here's a good example! I love when I write something and am
kinda iffy on whether it fits with what the show gave us... and
then discover it does!
Is it wrong that I just really love Andrew in that yarmulke?
Thank God he didn't have a prayer shawl cause I really am drawn to
those. Some of my favorite Andrew moments are when he's
prayerful or especially holy seeming. So yarmulkes and
prayer shawls play right into that particular element of my
fascination with him.
Gah. I am still such a theology nerd. I swear Andrew
got, like, five times more attractive when he was explaining what
"mitzvah" is. I'm glad the TBAA writers didn't have him
running around as a theology teacher, priest, rabbi, etc. I
don't think I could tolerate being any more obsessive and that
would do it!
I just love that Andrew assures Alan he's praying for him.
That's such a powerful thing to have someone say to you.
Music: You can hear
some sorta music at the gym but I couldn't even hear well enough
over the clanking machines to know if it had words.
This episode is meta-sad. We were just talking on the YG
about how much more emotional the Ross and Alan scenes are now
that Michael Douglas has been diagnosed with cancer.
Scenes Hallmark cut:
-THC cuts a bit right before the "who gets to say 'cut'"
disagreement between Ross and Monica. Basically, you see
Ross on his stationary bike surrounded by 4 other senior
citizens. He talks about the need to exercise daily after a
stroke and say that a stationary bike is perfect because you can't
-They also cut a scene of Ross entering the hospital. He
makes his way through a sea of Alan's students and comes to Andrew
and Alan's wife, Connie. He asks them who all the people are
and they explain that they're Alan's students and came as soon as
they heard he was there. Alan's wife tells Ross that they
love and respect Alan. Ross says he's proud of his
son. Connie voices doubt about that and asks Ross when the
last time was that he told Alan that. Andrew shares that one
of the students told him that Alan was voted the most
inspirational teacher almost every year over 10 years.
Andrew comments that this is quite an accomplishment. Ross
says that he wished someone had told him. Connie counters
that Alan did tell him the first time but in response Ross just asked if he'd finally get
a decent salary. Ross looks bothered by this
revelation. Connie then excuses herself to pick up
Aaron. Ross turns to Andrew and asks if he said something
wrong. Andrew explains that Connie and Alan find more worth
in the human accomplishment than cash value. Ross responds
that he appreciates both and then leaves. Andrew looks on
-A segment towards the end originally began with the three angels
at the shiva. Andrew comments that Alan touched a lot of
lives. Monica asks Tess if that's what makes a man: touching
a lot of lives. Tess responds that it's part of it but that
all of our traditions like sitting shiva, bar mitzvah,
confirmation, weddings, etc. are designed to bring people together
in times of joy and need. She goes onto say that "God asks
His children to do just two things: turn to Him and turn to others
in love." And, according to Tess, we do that best when we
have the faith and humility to use God's resources in those
times. She says that's what makes a man... or woman.
Then Ross enters which is where THC starts the act.
Further on down the road...
So I've been doing a sort of independent study/self-imposed
research assignment on the Holocaust and Judaism. That's why
I've been so sporadic with site updates. But I'm now done
with that and, coincidentally, this is the episode I get to watch
But first to get this out of my system... I know lots of
people loved The Bible miniseries. I would agree
there were some great parts. However, I didn't really care
for it and I was totally put off by Mother Mary leaving Jerusalem
on Sunday before Jesus rose. Why? Watch this
episode. Sitting shiva has been around for a good long time
(I read it originated with Joseph mourning Jacob) and I really
find it pretty unbelievable that a Jewish mother in Jesus' time
would skip town a mere 3 days after her child's death when one's
supposed to sit shiva for seven days. It would have been one
thing had they demonstrated that Mary had family back in Jerusalem
to sit shiva with but they did not. So, as it was, I thought
it looked like really bad. It's not that I'm a slavish
follower of either religious law or tradition. But it's just
plain about respect... So I'm glad TBAA at least included
sitting shiva as is appropriate. It's just unfortunate that
I already know that once it comes up, I'm gonna jump right to
being annoyed about that bit in The Bible. Seriously
need to let that go...
Complication... cue Andrew. ;-) Poor guy.
I'd like to know what it was Alan prayed when they heard the
Andrew shows back up at around 11:00. I totally forgot about
this scenes between him and Alan.
I still love Andrew shoving that dumpster. Studly.
And, of course, very glad that it saved Alan from both being
harmed and harming others unintentionally.
I really do love the scene between Alan and Andrew in the
synagogue, especially when Andrew assures Alan that he's already
praying for him.
I like that TBAA did depict characters without faith who were
still good people. Too often I think atheists and agnostics
can be vilified in religious/spiritual shows/books/etc. But
Ross really loves his family, he's trying to make a difference in
people's lives, and he does honor Alan's request to look for the
tefillin even though it's not meaningful to him personally.
Sure he's got a massive ego but so do some Christians. I
guess I'm glad he's a real character and not a caricature.
Andrew's got a heckuva lot of patience. I'm afraid that if I
had to explain personal accomplishment v. cash value to someone,
I'd probably be kinda jerky about it. Like "Cause maybe they
think what he's been able to do for others is just a lil bit more
important than the old paycheck, jerkface." Then he goes
onto tell Aaron that his grandpa is a " very... determined
man." I'd a gone "prideful." Much nicer than me!
I like how they shot part of Ross' prayer from above. Very
So I'm glad I did that research. I now understand Alan's
death scene more and why he asked Andrew if he had time. The
Shema is supposed to be the last thing a Jewish person says before
I wish Monica woulda passed Tess' words about sitting shiva off to
Mother Mary... (Note: "Mother Mary" is to me a TV
character. A TV character based on a real person but still a
TV character. I have never used that name to denote actual
Jesus' actual mother. So I'm not saying anything against the
real Mary of Nazareth. But, yeah, I have some issues with
I wish we'd kept prayer shawls in Christianity. I'm not sure
if the "prayer blankets" I'm increasingly seeing are an attempt to
bring an iteration of the shawls back or if that's something
the Episode Guide
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