A Price Above Rubies


" I?m going to question whatever I like",
" I?m going to choose whatever side I want and if God happens to be on the other side then so be it." I believe these two quotes capture the essence of the film " A Price Above Rubies". The main character, Sonia Horowitz, a Hasidic Jew, embarked on a journey in which she sought to find herself through questioning her faith and the strict Jewish life.In doing so, she paid a heavy price. This, I believe, to be the message of the film.

The movie starts off with a close up of a ring being crafted, incomplete. Then we see sonia?s brother, Yossi, telling her the story of the woman who broke free of the Jewish community. The woman?s father wanted her to marry a great scholar and lead a good spiritual life. After leaving, she wanders back years later, with child. The community shuns the child, and when she dies, heaven rejects her, so she goes to hell, but the devil cannot bear to see her suffer anymore because he recognizes her as his niece, so she wanders the earth for eternity. The woman is the daughter of a demon. Sonia tells Yossi -
" I love you more than anything", when Yossi asks her if she loves him more than God. Yossi tells her she is a sinner and will end up just like the woman in the story, wandering the earth for eternity, like Cain. Yossi then gives her a fake ruby, which she immediately recognizes and rejects. Perhaps the jewel symbolizes her soul, what makes her complete, and she won?t accept a fraud, something in place of the real thing, even at that young age.

The film goes forward a number of years, to when Sonia and her husband Mendel have just had their first child. Mendel is the perfect example of the devout Hasidic Jew. He is a scholar, and respected by everyone in the community. The Hasidic Jews believe that wisdom, not folly, and the studying of God?s word, knowledge, is the way to happiness and to God. " Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, yields better return than gold. She is more precious than rubies. " Proverbs 3:13-15. They also believe that to fear God is the way to wisdom and understanding and a better spiritual life. " He who heeds discipline shows the way of life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray." 10:17 and " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but the morally deficient despise wisdom and discipline." 1:7. These thoughts, or beliefs dictate every aspect of the Jewish life. From the very beginning we can see Sonia feels choked by such a ridged lifestyle. As Sonia and her husband make love, and Sonia starts to enjoy herself, Mendel says " That?s enough Sonia! I?m supposed to be thinking exalted thoughts. Sex is a holy act, sanctified." To which she replies " I?m supposed to enjoy myself knowing you?re up there thinking about Abraham and Isaac and the Rebbe?" She can?t even quench the fire, the passion she has inside of her by enjoying marital sex with her husband.

After this scene, a dinner party takes place in which Mendel?s brother Sender, asks her if she has lead a good spiritual life. She hesitates and doesn?t answer. She has already begun to have serious doubts about her faith When Sender offers her a job though, she has a panic attack. Her sister in law Rachael suggests she get some help.The next scene is in the Rebbe?s office, where she tells him about her problem. " There is a fire inside of me. It used to keep me warm, but it?s getting hotter, it makes my stomach burn, and my nerves, and my skin. It?s too hot. Everything is too hot. Every touch burns me. I have no soul."
The Rebbe replies " God gave everyone a soul."
" Maybe, but if I do, was it God who gave it to me?." Sonia is questioning whether her desire comes naturally from God, or from the devil. There is a void inside of her and she is trying to find out how to fill it. It relates to the story of the woman