Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, with whom I spoke Thursday about the death of Michael Jackson, has penned a reflection for Beliefnet about his estranged friend.
Jackson, he writes was “master of an empty Kingdom,” a terribly flawed man who meant an immense amount to the rockstar rabbi. Boteach told himself he wouldn’t cry the day Jackson died. Death would surely come soon for someone who lived such a destructive life. But last Thursday, sob he did.
It was only when I went back and listened to the many hours of taped conversations that Michael and I conducted so that I would write a book that peered into his soul. Hearing his voice, hearing him say, in his long drawn out way, ‘Shmmmuuuulleeeey,’ That did it. The tears flowed. Yes, I was angry at him. Truly. He threw away his life. He had lived recklessly and orphaned his children. He had medicated away the afflictions of the soul as if they were ailments of the body until his body could no longer tolerate the abuse. He had squandered all of G-d’s blessings. But he touched me nonetheless. He made me softer and gentler. He was highly imperfect and was perhaps guilty of serious, terrible sins for which there might not be any forgiveness. But G-d, was he tortured. And that is no excuse. Because you dare not visit your pain on an innocent party. But did that cancel out the good he tried to inspire in others?
You can read the rest here.
In December 2000, Jackson wrote a piece for Beliefnet titled “My Childhood, My Sabbath, My Freedom.”