Adam Sandler’s new bat mitzvah video on Netflix is taking the Jewish people by storm.
However, in my humble opinion, it’s not his best one. Nor is his best one Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, or even my wife’s personal favorite, “Lunch Lady Land.”
Adam Sandler’s best video is an SNL sketch from when he hosted the show in 2019, called “Romano Tours.” I’ve been recommending it to colleagues for years, always to rave reviews.
In “Romano Tours,” Adam Sandler is a tour company operator from New Jersey advertising trips to Italy. During his commercial, he points out all the sites to see, as well as positive testimonials from people who have taken the trip.
Then, in the middle of the commercial, he gets serious.
He sadly remarks that “every now and then, someone leaves a review that they were disappointed…so here, at Romano tours, we always remind our customers: ‘If you are sad where you are, and then you get on a plane to Italy, the you in Italy, will be the same sad you from before…there’s a lot a vacation can do, but it can’t change your baseline mood. That’s a job for incremental lifestyle changes sustained over time.’”
Amidst uproarious laughter, Sandler’s character then goes on to add that his trips can take you on beautiful hikes but cannot transform you into a person that likes hiking, and that they can take you to the riviera, but not make you comfortable wearing a bathing suit.
From time to time, we all fall into the trap of thinking others can fix our problems for us. We’ve become a society accustomed to throwing money at our shortcomings in the hopes they will go away. But what I love about Romano Tours is that it reminds us that the key to growing to be our best selves isn’t to place our faith in someone else, but in ourselves. We can travel the entire world from Italy to Israel in the hopes of finding answers, only to find that which we are seeking is right at home. We can spend a hundred thousand dollars on a bat mitzvah party, but that’s not going to make our kids love Judaism or learn to embody its values (see the movie).
In Pirkei Avot, our rabbis teach: “Who is wealthy? A person who is content with their lot.” Maybe, in the new year that’s the place for us to start. All that we need to reach for the stars has been given to us by G-d and is contained within each of us.”
Rabbi Dorsch is the rabbi at Congregation Etz Chaim, and the President of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.