By Josh Silver
Blowing up a Death Star is no easy task. True, all Luke had to do was fire a missile into a conveniently placed ventilation shaft but that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about how to destroy your own personal Death Star. Each of us has one—that looming shadow which shrouds our life. All of us must either overcome it or continue to suffer. For me that Death Star was addiction. For years my addiction to drugs overshadowed all of the good that I tried to accomplish. Every time I thought I had made steps in the right direction, my addiction pulled me back into despair.
That was, of course, until I entered Beit T’Shuvah. While there I realized something that I think Star Wars had been trying to teach me for years. First of all, the Force is real. No, I’m not crazy and no I don’t think that if you try hard enough that you can make objects fly around a room. What I do believe is that inside each and every one of us is the potential for good and the potential for evil. Judaism refers to this dual nature of humanity as the yetzer tov (good impulse) and the yetzer rah (evil impulse). One of the many lessons that I learned at Beit T’Shuvah is that in order to have a balanced life we must all occasionally give in to both sides of ourselves. Star Wars offers a simplified view of human impulse. According to the films, if you lean towards the dark side then you will be pushed in that direction until it eventually destroys you.
This leads me to one other aspect of the films that people seem to overlook. Darth Vader wasn’t the bad guy. Yea, I said it. The real villain was the Emperor and who killed the Emperor? Darth Vader. Who ended up saving Luke Skywalker’s life in the final minutes of Return of the Jedi? Darth Vader.
If you look more closely at the films, the story of Vader is really just a tale of redemption. According to the teaching of my Rabbi, Mark Borovitz, we must all perform T’Shuvah (redemption) the day before we die. Since none of us know what day we will die, we must do T’Shuvah every day. This is exactly what Darth Vader did. He was the ultimate bad guy—the so-called “unredeemable.” Yet, in the last moments of his life, he saved Luke and fatally wounded himself in the process.
How did I destroy my Death Star? First I realized that every situation in life can be related in some way to Star Wars. More importantly, I learned that no matter how far I had gone to the side of darkness, there is still a person worthy of redemption inside of all of us.