Football and the Outside Observer

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Mv”r R. Mayer Twersky is not a football fan (link):

Superseding Societal Conventions

And He (Hashem) took him (Avraham Avinu) outside, and said, “Gaze, now, towards the heavens, and count the stars if you are able to count them” And he said to him, “So shall your offspring be” – Breishis 15:5

And He took him outside – according to its Midrashic interpretation [Hashem] said to [Avraham] “go out from your astrology which you have seen by the signs of the zodiac that you are not destined to bear a son… – Rashi ad loc., Artscroll Sapirstein edition translation

It is vitally important to periodically step outside ourselves and our society and objectively asses ourselves. Societal assumptions and axioms, follies and foibles often, in ways that go undetected, impose patterns of thought and behavior on a wide range of individuals. Even individuals who do not completely identify with the surrounding society or culture are not necessarily immune. Thus Hakadosh Baruch Hu tells Avraham Avinu, step outside the astrological axioms of society and recognize that these axioms are limiting your faith. Their astrological axioms are not yours; they constrain and contradict your beliefs. And our patriarch responds to the challenge, “and he trusted/believed in Hashem” (ibid 15:6.)

“Tze’ee loch b’ikvei haTzon” (Shir Hashirim 1:8) – follow in the footsteps of the patriarchs – this is the directive Shlomo Hamelech imparts to us. So let us too, for a brief moment, “step outside.”

As outsiders let us attend a professional sporting event. What do we experience? Even as outsiders we might share the insider’s perspective. The intense competition can be gripping, even thrilling. The athleticism on display, replete with extraordinary grace and commensurate skill, posses a definite aesthetic quality. If the sporting event happens to be a baseball game and we posses the poetic imagination of the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, we would see a metaphor for the, “impulse to go out and back, to leave and return home.” (Although I wonder how many, if any, share this imaginative Giamattian perspective on baseball). Even the venue itself, magnificent stadiums, can be particularly impressive.

But as outsiders we would see and experience much, much more…

Continued here: link

And for those who remember, I’m not a football fan either: link

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

91 comments

  1. shaul shapira

    Yeah, yeah. I’m a ex-sportsfan who finally quit because I ran out of patience. But from exerience I can say that trying to explain why it matters thar Jeter be healthy for the playoffs to a non sports fan is like trying to explain a concert to a deaf-mute. I’m generally more inclined to hear Mussar on this kind of stuff from someone that’s actually watched a superbowl in their life.

  2. I watched the ’08 Superbowl, when the Giants won, at a business function and I’m comfortable saying it’s shtus ve-hevel. Although I’m still going to let my sons watch it if they want.

  3. shaul shapira

    “I watched the ’08 Superbowl, when the Giants won, at a business function and I’m comfortable saying it’s shtus ve-hevel. Although I’m still going to let my sons watch it if they want.”

    To reuse my metaphor, I think a deaf-mute would find a concert pretty dumb also. Please don;t misunderstand me, I’m not saying it’s not shtus ve-hevel, but I think it’s similar to AA where ex-addicts are often the best spokesmen. It’s much easier to hear advice from someone who’s ‘been there done that’, than from someone who’s only exposure to football is when he connects to Avraham Avinu and the stars.

  4. Perhaps, one positive midah that one can learn from watching any sucesssful team in sports is “being on the same page” or what Baalei Musar call Achdus.

  5. MiMedinat HaYam

    football is a waste of time. only the last two minutes count, unless the winner is a given by then. of course, the 08 game was decided in the last minute.

    nevertheless, read http://forward.com/articles/150733/ for an appropriate (i hope) half time show.

  6. “I’m generally more inclined to hear Mussar on this kind of stuff from someone that’s actually watched a superbowl in their life.”
    why do you automatically assume he never watched the superbowl? Perhaps the quote from Giamatti indicates he knows something about sports?

  7. Interesting observation. Probably deserves a post of it’s own. See sports dynasties and prayer

  8. so to extend the argument, one should never do anything that is not bittul zman or go anywhere where they might see something inappropiate?
    KT

  9. many people do things that are strictly speaking a waste of time. most people do need something to relax or decompress. how much is too much is a separate discussion. i don’t like singling out spectator sports negatively, becuase while it can (and of course shouldn’t be) taken to excess, I see a lot of people who have way too much focus on expensive wine or scotch, skiing, fancy clothes, fancy cars, etc. so better to focus on increase of spiritually edifying activities than to put down sports in particular in my opinion.

  10. And related…

    http://www.ravaviner.com/2012/02/shut-sms-148.html

    Q: I want to stop watching sports games on TV based on “Moshav Leitzim” (frivolity), but am unsuccessful. What should I do?
    A: Gradually wean yourself off and read Mesilat Yesharim.

  11. Moshe Shoshan

    This is another example of RMT’s extremism.
    There are serious concerns with long term brain damage and early death caused by playing in the NFL. But playing tackle football is not a violent activity, the intent is never to inflict pain or injury. Similarly condemning spectator sports out right, when so many people get legitimate enjoyment from it (not me), is similarly in approapriate. Preach against exteme obsession but throw out the baby and with the bath water and implicitly attack his elders like RAL and R. Rakeffet how see value in sports when kept i n perspective.

  12. Joseph Kaplan

    A story from many years ago. I was in R. Yehudah Parnes’s shiur in HS (for 2 years). One January 2nd he came to shiur and told us a story. He went home after shiur and took out a sefer to start learning. He turned on the radio he told us because he liked to have classical music on on the background when he learned. Someone had changed the station so he started turning the dial (remember those?) to get to WQXR. While doing si he came upon the Rose bowl game. He then told us that when he was young he used to root for USC because, although their games were on Shabbat, because of the 3 hr. time difference, he was able to listen to the last quarter after Shabbat wss over. And uSC was playing in that Rose Bowl. He hesitated, not sure what to do. And them he decided.

  13. Lawrence Kaplan

    I’m with Moshe Shoshan on this. Extremism, even if garbed in elegant English, is still extremism.

  14. I will grant that this shiur would not have been given by RMT’s zeyde and seem to recall a story about RYBS sending one of the Twersky’s (then learning in Brisk) a telegram informing him that the Red Sox had won a pennant but I fail to see how this qualifies as “extreme”. Football is a violent sport and a complete waste of time and there is nothing wrong with calling attention to the dangers posed by this sport and the addiction it engenders.

  15. I grew up in Maryland. I stopped paying attention to the NFL when the Baltimore Colts left town in the middle of the night. I had not watched a Super Bowl in about 20 years, nor anything on television for about seven, when one of the local shuls decided to have a Super Bowl party as a fundraiser last year. (I actually got married on Super Bowl Sunday one of those years — I honestly did not even know that the Super Bowl was going to be that day when we booked the date.) We decided to go to the party and it was kind of fun, mostly from the socializing. I can’t even tell you who won. And most of the commercials were obnoxious — many highly non-tzniut.

    Tomorrow we plan to attend Rabbi Slifkin’s shiurim in Washington Heights. I wonder if he has any idea what this craziness is all about.

  16. to Moshe Shoshan: RMT calmly and logically presented his opposition to football in particular, and to being overly obsessed with sports in general. Given the statistics on shortened life expectancy and brain damage to NFL players, it is very easy to back up his position. You, however, because you don’t like what he said, immediately labeled him an extremist and accuse him of implicitly attacking his uncle, RAL. As a third party, if I had to pick who was being reactionary and extreme and who was engaged in thoughtful dialog, you loose.

  17. R’anon,
    do you understsnd r’mt to be saying watching a sporting event is not necessarily a problem, just that football is violent and the (commercials? half time show? spectators?) represent pritzutz/
    kt

  18. also to Moshe Shoshan: can you please explain for us how it is muttar to see the occasional camera shot of the half-naked NFL cheerleaders? And the commercials? And the half time show? Is one an extremist if one knows it is assur to watch the pritzus of Madonna, this year’s half time performer? Or, in other words, is adhering to what halacha has to say here, as articulated in the Shulchan Aruch Even HoEzer siman 21, “extremist”? I think we need to define what “Extremist” means – adhering to the psak halacha in Shulchan Aruch, even when it goes against an American institution, it not extremist – it’s being a religious Jew.

  19. joel – my understanding of what RMT wrote is that a casual interest in sports such as baseball and basketball, which contain no violence, is fine, while football and hockey are out. Would he be OK with going to a game per se, or would he say it is a moshav leitzim? I’m not sure.

  20. James: “and seem to recall a story about RYBS sending one of the Twersky’s” there are lots of stories about RYBS making him out to be everything from a photo copy of Rav Aharon Kotler to the chancellor of JTS. If we want to talk about RYBS, how about quoting from the tens of volumes of his hashkafa/philosophy that he and his family have published instead of trying to establish normative behavior based on hearsay? There are many who find it “inconvenient” that RYBS quotes secular philosophers and had a PhD, and still others who would like to forget that in his hesped for Rav Chaim Ozer he gave the most powerful presentation and support for da’as Torah you will find anywhere, and in his hesped for Rav Chaim Heller he ripped the upper west side modern orthodoxy (both printed in his volume called “Divrei Hagos V’ha’aracha” – please take the time to READ IT before responding.)

  21. I’m with anon on this. I find Moshe Shoshan and Prof. Kaplan’s comments extremely offensive and uncalled for. I am not a student of Rav Twersky, but admire his humility and general tzidkut, not to mention his scholarship. I am a pretty big sports fan, but I have a very hard time arguing with anything he said.
    I was at a wedding recently when a rosh hayeshiva sat down next to me and asked “are you a football fan?” (the wedding was during a major playoff game). When I responded in the affirmative, the rosh hayeshiva responded “me too, it’s a real chisaron…” I think that is an appropriate attitude and fail to see how opposition to endless hours of bittul zman can be called “extremism” by anybody’s definition.

  22. It does seem extremist to me, but extremism is sometimes correct. On this issue, I think R. Twersky is absolutely right. Everyone needs down time to just have some fun but you have to do it wisely, in moderation and on a “healthy, innocuous form of entertainment” if not on something that adds to your midos and understanding.

  23. Hirhurim: very well put.

  24. Lawrence Kaplan

    anon: Believe it or not, I’ve read and written about both essays. The essay on Rav Hayyim Ozer was given in 1940. There is much evidence that the Rav changed his mind about it. As for the hesped on Rav Hayyim Heller,you can’t just choose one sentence and say it rpresents the Rav’s view on Modern Orthodoxy.

    Perhaps I should not have referred ot RMT’s essay as extreme, but I still think it was unbalanced. After noting positive aspects of sports, complete with literary quotes, RMT justly points to negative aspects of sports. The problem is that they are the final word, the positive aspects having been lost sight of. Also, I wonder what an outsider would say about Shabbat or learning Gemara, etc. It is necessary to balance outsider and insider perspectives. BTW, I am not a sports fan, and do NOT plan to watch the super-bowl.

  25. Anon,
    My comment was not intended to establish normative behavior but to point out that the article was NOT extreme. I agree with what he wrote but simply wished to add that I dont think RYBS would write something like that.

    Nonetheless, if you want sources, here are a bunch of second hand sources:

    1. See page 25 of Rabbi Mendi Gopin’s “Davening with the Rav” in which he quotes the RYBS as saying “My grandchildren [presumably the Twerskys] would kill me if I didnt know the score.”
    http://books.google.com/books?id=2HITDEPeq0wC&printsec=frontcover&dq=mendi+gopin&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rwAuT4esG86-0QHh5o3LCg&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=mendi%20gopin&f=false

    2.See this post by Dr. Jeffrey Wolf (http://myobiterdicta.blogspot.com/2007/10/rav-and-red-sox.html) cited approvingly by this blog:(http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2007/10/rav-soloveitchik-and-red-sox.html)

    3. See this interview with Rabbi Rakeffet:
    http://admin2.collegepublisher.com/preview/mobile/2.2469/2.2831/1.297788

  26. Everyone needs down time to just have some fun but you have to do it wisely, in moderation and on a “healthy, innocuous form of entertainment” if not on something that adds to your midos and understanding.

    Of all sports to criticise in this regard, picking on American Football seems ignorant to me. Much more so than Baseball, Football is a game of strategy, tactics and teamwork. And its origin was in the great American universities (Harvard and Prof. Kaplan’s McGill no less).

    Watch it, or don’t watch it — I won’t be — but the biggest bitul zman is arguing about whether it is kosher to watch it!

  27. “And its origin was in the great American universities (Harvard and Prof. Kaplan’s McGill no less).”

    You could have said Rabbi Twersky’s Harvard!

    No less a figure than President Theodore Roosevelt intervened to stop the carnage from the way football was played over a century ago.

    http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/kidscorner/football.htm

  28. “Mv”r R. Mayer Twersky is not a football fan”

    Is he a Celtics fan-basketball. Of course, the owner of the Patriots is a Jew who identifies strongly with Israel and Judaism.
    Kraft has let his his stadium be used by Hebrew HS that he went to.

    “Preach against exteme obsession but throw out the baby and with the bath water and implicitly attack his elders like RAL and R. Rakeffet how see value in sports when kept i n perspective.

    Yet another example of how he is unworthy of the mantle of his father and grandfather in which he clothes himself.”

    Agree or disagree with RMT on the merits of his ideas-it is certainly a fair question how much he differs from his father and grandfather-the Rav-remember he had two grandfathers-BUT to imply that RMT is one who doesn’t respect people is ludicrous-it is clear that RMT is a talmid chacham but it is even clearer that he is personally a mensch. He did not take advantage of his family background- if I recall unlike others he started teaching in YUs HS-although he was clearly of the ability like others in his league to have started in a college shiur.
    Unless one can show how he is distorting the Ravs viewpoints-by claiming the Rav held things that he didn’t which I have seen no evidence of-I don’t care that he may have some different hashkafot than his father or grandfather.

  29. Charlie,

    Nice find with that Teddy Roosevelt quote. Might you have thought of that quote watching tonight’s episode of Harry’s Law?

  30. “joel – my understanding of what RMT wrote is that a casual interest in sports such as baseball and basketball, which contain no violence, is fine, while football and hockey are out. Would he be OK with going to a game per se, or would he say it is a moshav leitzim? I’m not sure”

    It would make sense that RMT would have been a basketball Celtics fan-the Celtics won the NBA championship in
    1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1981,

    .I believe RMT was born a few months after the Celtics won in 1960 and had thus won 3 of the 4 years before he was born and would win 11 times before he turned 21.
    Everyone knows that the Red Sox did not win the World Series for about 85 years but they came close during RMTs youth going to a 7th game of the World Series in 1967 and 1975.
    Although the Red Sox did not win a World Series for more than a normal lifetime I believe they never finished last in the AL during the whole time when the Yawkeys owned them.

  31. “Of all sports to criticise in this regard, picking on American Football seems ignorant to me. Much more so than Baseball, Football is a game of strategy, tactics and teamwork. ”
    See Paul Hornung Tax Court Case dismissing a similar argument
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hornung_v._Commissioner
    “The court dismissed Hornung’s claims that the championship football game constitutes an educational, artistic, scientific, or civic achievement. The court reaffirmed the principle that words in the revenue acts should be interpreted in their ordinary, everyday sense. The court believed the exceptions articulated in 74(b) refer to “activities enhancing in one way or another the public good.”

  32. “This interpretation is consistent with our view that the field of activity here in question, professional football, is not an activity which is “educational,” “artistic,” “scientific,” or “civic” in the traditional, ordinarily understood, and intended sense of these words.

    We feel confident that Congress had no intention of allowing professional football to constitute a type of activity for which proficiency could be recognized with an exempt award under section 74(b). Professional football cannot be viewed as an “educational,” “artistic,” “scientific,” or “civic” field of endeavor as those terms are used in the statute no matter how fond of the sport we may be.”

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=4391163088266321545&q=paul+hornung+&hl=en&as_sdt=3,33
    BTW the whole section doesn’t exist anymore but my point was on what football is.

  33. Moshe Shoshan

    Gil,
    I am surprised that you did not censor my ad hominem attack against your Rebbe. It was wrong. No reason to bring Boston politics into this blog.

  34. for balance see the Ct of Appeals onMaury Wills

    “In Hornung v. Commissioner, 47 T.C. 428 (1967), for example, the petitioner was a well-known professional football player who was awarded a new Corvette automobile for being selected as the outstanding player in the National Football League championship game. He asserted that this award was made in recognition of educational, artistic, scientific and civic activity, but the court concluded that the car was received in recognition of athletic achievement — which was not encompassed by the terms of § 74(b), as those terms are ordinarily understood.

    The court in Hornung relied in large part upon the decision in Simmons v. United States, 308 F.2d 160 (4th Cir. 1962). The court in Simmons rejected the contention that a prize presented for catching a particular fish was awarded for a “civic achievement” within the meaning of § 74(b), and held that the crucial test for exemption under the statute is the nature of the activity being awarded. The court further refused to adopt the suggestion that the prize was for a civic achievement since it rewarded the taxpayer’s skill as a fisherman, and stated that a “civic achievement” implies positive action which is exemplary, unselfish and broadly advantageous to the community. It was also noted that all the fields of endeavor listed in § 74(b) represent activities enhancing in some way the public good.

    In light of the above standards for characterizing an activity as a civic achievement, we cannot say that the Tax Court’s finding that Wills received the car and belt for his popularity and athletic prowess and that these accomplishments did not constitute civic achievements, was clearly erroneous.

    Nor can we hold that the Tax Court clearly erred in finding that Wills was not rewarded for artistic achievements. As the term “artistic” is ordinarily used, it connotes activities of an aesthetic nature, including, for example, painting, drawing, architecture, sculpture, poetry, music, dancing and dramatics. In normal parlance, athletic achievements are not regarded as “artistic,” despite the great skill which is frequently necessary for athletic success.”
    affirming the Tax Court Case on Maury Wills which includes the following:
    which can be found in
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=6759081775747925337&q=maury+wills&hl=en&as_sdt=3,33
    “Petitioner vainly attempts to distinguish the facts in Hornung from those surrounding the award of the Hickok belt in the instant case by contending that “stealing bases over a complete major league schedule is quite different from playing one football game.” The mere fact that the Hickok belt was awarded for petitioner’s athletic skill and prowess exhibited over an entire season does not seem to make the award any the less “athletic” in nature than had the Hickok belt been awarded for petitioner’s performance in a single game. Moreover, “stealing bases” is no less exclusively an “athletic” skill than being a good halfback.

    Petitioner also contends that the Hickok award was not necessarily for especial athletic skill or prowess but for his “good conduct” as a public figure involved in sports. Therefore, he asserts that the belt comes within the exclusion for awards recognizing civic achievement. In support of this position, petitioner points to his creditable record of social service and high standards of public responsibility as a highly acclaimed professional athlete. There is evidence in the record that consideration is given to factors other than athletic skills in casting a vote for a Hickok belt candidate. Nevertheless, it is clear that the award is made primarily in recognition of athletic skills and that excellence in sport is the predominant criterion for selection”

  35. I’m not one for making generalizations, but I’ve never liked a Rabbi that admitted to being a sports fan. And not because they admitted to being a sports fan, but because of some other issue, like speaking too much Lashon Harah, or being too dismissive of other people. I guess its the sort of “Us vs Them” mentality that sports fan’s like that completely pushes me away as a religious leader.

  36. “But as outsiders we would see and experience much, much more. The amount of time squandered on watching and discussing sporting events is staggering. The seriousness surrounding meaningless games and the degree to which people are invested in their local teams attest to a profoundly worrisome, vacuous, and meaningless dimension in people’s lives. These phenomena become magnified when there is extra hype and buzz about a particular game. As objective outsiders it becomes very difficult to regard watching games, and in particular the hyped games, as a healthy, innocuous form of entertainment. It seems more like a moshav leitzim”

    RABBI REISMAN IN AN ASIDE THIS MOTZEI SHABBOS MADE A SIMILAR POINT BUT WAS MORE EMPHTHATIC ON THE VESTING OF CONCERN ABOUT WHO WINS. IF ONE WANTS TO WASTE SOME TIME ONE THING-BUT THE WORRY ANDCONCERN ABOUT SHTUS SOMETHING ELSE.

  37. “And not because they admitted to being a sports fan, but because of some other issue, like speaking too much Lashon Harah, or being too dismissive of other people. I guess its the sort of “Us vs Them” mentality that sports fan’s like that completely pushes me away as a religious leader”
    For SPORTS FANS who are concerned if one wins-but if one enjoys it as entertainment how is it different than watching a concert onTV-each is legitimate entertainment for those who are watching butAS LONG AS THE INVOLVEMENT IS NOT TO EXCESS.

  38. “For SPORTS FANS who are concerned if one wins-but if one enjoys it as entertainment how is it different than watching a concert onTV”

    I didn’t say anything about watching sports, just about people who are sports fans, who have their team that they root for and care about the stats.

  39. Moshe Shoshan

    “I guess its the sort of “Us vs Them” mentality that sports fan’s like that completely pushes me away as a religious leader”

    That funny, because the “us verses them attitude is extremely common in Frum world today, with no correlation to being a sports fan

  40. Lawrence Kaplan: i didn’t mean to imply the quote from the hesped for Rav Heller comprised his total attitude towards MO, rather meant to point out that his attitude was not as simplistic as some would have it. Regarding the hesped for Rav Chaim Ozer – my understanding from multiple students of RYBS who currently serve as Roshei yeshiva is that his attitude towards Daas Torah remained fully intact, but, like on so many issues, one can’t apply someone else’s definition of the term to him, as his position neither granted omniscience to talmedei chachomim as some would have it, nor freed baalei batim from consistently submitting themselves to talmedei chachomim on “policy” and/or “hashkafa” issues, as others would have it.

  41. …what I do find amussing, however, is those that deny omniscience to talmedei chachomim but them implicitly grant some magical insight to baalei batim by saying they are inherently more qualified than talmedei chachomim to lead on policy/communal issues, the exact position RYBS decried in that hesped

  42. “That funny, because the “us verses them attitude is extremely common in Frum world today, with no correlation to being a sports fan”

    I surround myself with people in whom that attitude is very rare.

  43. Lawrence Kaplan

    anon: That is certainly not the view of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein.

  44. Shades of Gray

    RMT’s main objection to football seems to be to the pritzus which comes along with it; baseball, in that sense, would seem to be better.

    “If the sporting event happens to be a baseball game and we posses the poetic imagination of the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, we would see a metaphor for the, “impulse to go out and back, to leave and return home”

    This is from an article by R. Emanuel Feldman in Tradition Magazine. My experience as well is that baseball games can be “a moment of relaxation”(at least if your team is winning):

    “But the sports juices of my youth began to stir within me, and the rationalizations fell quickly into place: It will be a study of Americana in the raw; it will be a moment of relaxation; you have always liked baseball, its non-violence, its patience, the solitary struggle of lonely pitcher against lonely batter. And consider its religious undertones: the goal is to circle the infield and then come back to the starting point, to return to beginnings. Unlike football or basketball, where the clock ultimately runs out, baseball is timeless: a tie game can theoretically continue until eternity… ”

    http://www.tfdixie.com/special/feldman1.htm

  45. “Charlie Hall on February 5, 2012 at 12:12 am
    “And its origin was in the great American universities (Harvard and Prof. Kaplan’s McGill no less).”

    You could have said Rabbi Twersky’s Harvard!”

    Although Harvards stadium is not in Cambridge but in Boston I doubt that either Rabbi Moshe Twersky or his father ever went to a Harvard football game.

  46. avi
    lucky you.

  47. “Regarding the hesped for Rav Chaim Ozer – my understanding from multiple students of RYBS who currently serve as Roshei yeshiva is that his attitude towards Daas Torah remained fully intact”

    The Rav was unique in that he had many close students who did NOT become RY-their viewpoints of the Rav at times tend to be somewhat different than some RY.
    Possible reason-“what is taught in shiur may not reflect the halacha lemaaseh of the Ravs thionking-it is possible that some of his comments could have been “chakirot” which Briskers were certainly capable of engaging in.

  48. “It will be a study of Americana in the raw; it will be a moment of relaxation; you have always liked baseball, its non-violence,”
    as in brushback pitches, beanballs, sliding into a base to break up a dp-attempoting to knock down the catcher while attempting to reach home.

  49. “as in brushback pitches, beanballs, sliding into a base to break up a dp-attempoting to knock down the catcher while attempting to reach home.”

    It was steroid abuse that soured me on baseball. I haven’t watched a game in years.

  50. Furthermore, the Rav had quite a few talmidim who did become Rashei Yeshiva, who would also argue that the Rav changed his position on Daas Torah.

    Even if we consider Rav’s version of Daas Torah it is nowhere near the authoritarian notion propounded by the Agudah

  51. “Although the Red Sox did not win a World Series for more than a normal lifetime I believe they never finished last in the AL during the whole time when the Yawkeys owned them.”

    Had Tom Yawkey not refused to sign black players, they might have had a much shorter championship drought. He passed on Jackie Robinson (!) and the Red Sox were the last team in major league baseball to have a black player.

  52. Shades of Gray

    “as in brushback pitches, beanballs, sliding into a base to break up a dp-attempoting to knock down the catcher while attempting to reach home.”

    You left out bench-clearing brawls.

    However, I think one follows the majority of baseball, which is non-violent 🙂

    How about the theme of “the solitary struggle of lonely pitcher against lonely batter” ?

  53. For those interested in the positive aspects of exercise, and team sports from Halachic and Hashkafic POV, take a look at the following link. http://yu.edu/half-time/I think that the annexed video is must watching for anyone interested in discussing these issues, especially to audiences who may wonder about their applicability,and how they should be emphasized in a positive manner.

  54. FWIW, when I was in YU, we only had phys ed classes in the gym in the basement of RIETS Hall. One of the best basketball players that I ever saw or played against during those years was one of my JSS rebbes who is now a prominent RY, Rosh Kollel and Posek, who, had a stellar jump shot that he demonstrated in that height challenged gym as well as on the outdoor courts. During those years, when YU did not yet have a pool or gym , we often played touch football on the grounds-regardless of the hour or the weather.

  55. A number of years ago, when the Yankees were not drawing, and fielding subpar teams because George Steinbrenner had been suspended ( but also while they had drafted Jeter, Posada, Petit and Rivera but who were in the very low minors), I wnet to a game with a dear friend and chavrusa. The game was boring and poorly attended and during more than a few breaks, we took out a sefer and learned during the down time.

  56. For the record, RMT’s discussion should be compared with RAL’s critique of MO who seem more interested in the ups and downs of sports heroes and celebrities and were unable to identify great Talmidei Chachamim.( Leaves of Faith,Vol.1 , Page 323).

  57. “Although Harvards stadium is not in Cambridge but in Boston I doubt that either Rabbi Moshe Twersky or his father ever went to a Harvard football game”

    Because of Shabbos-RMTs father was very much a Harvard man-not merely teachingthere but proud of the institution-certainly had hakarat hatov to his teacher Prof Wolfson.

  58. Someone wrote:

    “RMT’s main objection to football seems to be to the pritzus which comes along with it; baseball, in that sense, would seem to be better”

    True-but the Giants have never had “cheerleaders”.Perhaps, that is due to the ownership of the team by the Maras, who except for a grandaughter in a certain movie, are a very traditional Irish RC family, and their co-owners, the Tisches, who are major Baalei Tzedaka, and of whom, one member is involved with the publication of the ArtScroll Schottenstein Shas. May that “Zechus”, and the holding of the Siyum HaShas at Metlife Stadium be a Segulah for the Giants!While the Krafts enable many Americans in Israel to play baseball and are Baalei Tzedaka as well, as a Yankee and Giant fan of many years, we hope that the Giants, whose quarterback is a Baal Midos, win.

    Full disclosure time-for years we have invited friends and their children to watch the game. We have pictures of many of their children, more than of a few are now in either Kollel or Klei Kodesh.

  59. “Had Tom Yawkey not refused to sign black players, they might have had a much shorter championship drought. He passed on Jackie Robinson (!) and the Red Sox were the last team in major league baseball to have a black player”

    Certainly since they hired Pumpsie Green who went AWOL they have had black players-I believe they went over 40 years with important black players before they won a championship. Note of course Charlie Hall they never finished LAST duringthat time period.
    Cleveland was one of the first teams to have a black player and they have gone almost 60 years wo a championship-ma inyan shmitta ezel har Sinai.

  60. To all Tankee fans and members of the self defined entity known as “Red Sox Nation”, imagine what would have been the results for the teams and the players involved if the Yankees and Red Sox had traded Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams, which was a trade contemplated but never consummated.

  61. R Twersky has a point, and I am likewise bemused by how much loyalty is afforded to paid professionals who have no real connection to the civic polity. However, perhaps this is a more harmless form of group identification than war. See e.g. the movie Rollerball for a dystopian vision that is just a bit of a stretch from today’s sports franchises.

  62. Steve Brizel–

    The result likely would have been that the yankees with Williams would have been better than they were with Dimaggio, the Red Sox wouldn’t have been any better, and Dimaggio wouldn’t be nearly as highly regarded as he was/is. Dimaggio was a great player, but like many yankee players over the years (Mantle, Jeter, etc) he got a lot more exposure by being in NY and a lot more adulation for being on teams that won.

  63. “One of the best basketball players that I ever saw or played against during those years was one of my JSS rebbes who is now a prominent RY, Rosh Kollel and Posek, who, had a stellar jump shot that he demonstrated in that height challenged gym as well as on the outdoor courts. ”

    I remember at TLS at Camp Monroe R David Hartman played basketball very well.

  64. “cyberdov on February 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm
    R Twersky has a point, and I am likewise bemused by how much loyalty is afforded to paid professionals who have no real connection to the civic polity. However, perhaps this is a more harmless form of group identification than war.”

    Its not merely an American trait see eg Lionel Messi star of Barcelona he is from South America -yet has fans worldwide icluding both US and Israel.

  65. Carlos wrote:

    “The result likely would have been that the yankees with Williams would have been better than they were with Dimaggio, the Red Sox wouldn’t have been any better, and Dimaggio wouldn’t be nearly as highly regarded as he was/is. Dimaggio was a great player, but like many yankee players over the years (Mantle, Jeter, etc) he got a lot more exposure by being in NY and a lot more adulation for being on teams that won”

    Spoken like a true member of Red Sox Nation.

  66. ” However, perhaps this is a more harmless form of group identification than war.””

    Tell that to the Egyptians in Port Said.. I believe 70 people were killed in the last football related riot.

  67. A hilarious e-mail that I received from a bAker Street Irregular:

    “Read this- Its very funny. Some guy thought a request on the KGH shul yahoo group site was so ridiculous, that he responded with a hilarious response.

    ISO Place for Super Bowl Party

    Posted by: “mimamakim” mimamakim

    Wed Feb 1, 2012 9:31 am (PST)

    Are you going to someone else’s for a Super Bowl Party? Will your TV be alone for the Super Bowl? A group of guys with no TV is looking to rent the living room of someone’s house/apartment to watch the Super Bowl. Please let me know if interested.

    Hi,

    I live in KGH, mamesh 4 minute walk from Lander College. I will be watching the game by my in-laws who aren’t so frum so I will not be home all day on Sunday. I have a 42 in TV in my bedroom. I don’t have it in my living room because I don’t want my children to know we have a TV in the house, chas v’shalom even see me watching it. I only watch sports anyways.

    I have no problem with a few guys renting my apartment to watch the game. There are just a few conditions I need to make %100 sure will be kept.

    1) Any food brought into my house must be Cholov Yisroel (even though no shtark bocher is going to be eating dairy during the big game). Most importantly, everything must be Yashan. I take it very seriously. Some Yidden are of the opinion that that Yashan is just a chumra. That’s fine, those are the same people that don’t wear hats and jackets while they are davening. Its pashut to me that Yashan is not a chumra, but I’m not going to get into the details right now.

    2)If my wife is still in Niddah, then you can probably fit about 5 to 6 folding chairs between our beds. I’ll make sure to move the night table that separates our beds into the living room. If she baruch hashem is not in Niddah anymore, then you can probably fit 3 to 4 chairs between out beds. Oh, and please don’t eat in my bedroom.

    3) I know this doesn’t need to be said but I can’t resist. THE TV MUST BE TURNED OFF DURING THE HALFTIME SHOW! I heard there was a mysa a few years back where one of the woman involved in the show had a “wardrobe malfunction.” Well not in my house.

    Ahh but you might say that Madonna is a real masmid of Kabbalah and she is on such a madreiga that the moment won’t get to her. I hear the vort, but “safek d’orysa l’chumra” so I insist on that the half time show is not to be watched in my home.

    4) Hats and jackets MUST be worn to and from my apartment. Once you get inside you can dress however you want. You can even wear a brooks brothers light blue shirt for all I care. I can’t have my neighbors see people coming in and out of my apartment that don’t look like b’nei toyrah.

    5) Absolutely no gambling on the game in my house. Gambling is for modern orthodox people who think it’s “ok” as long as I’m not sitting at a card table with another Jew. Wrong! Not in my house. I don’t need the pictures of my Rabbeim on the wall to see bochrim gambling in my apartment.

    I am charging $36.00 dollars a head, two times chai, per person who comes to watch by me.

    If there is serious interest, please email me back soon so I can figure out an excuse to tell my wife why we have to sleep by her parents’ house Sunday night.

    I will tell you my exact address and the place I will leave the keys at a later time.

    Tizku L’mitsvos and LETS GO GIANTS!”
    =

  68. “Steve Brizel on February 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm
    Carlos wrote:

    “The result likely would have been that the yankees with Williams would have been better than they were with Dimaggio, the Red Sox wouldn’t have been any better, and Dimaggio wouldn’t be nearly as highly regarded as he was/is. Dimaggio was a great player, but like many yankee players over the years (Mantle, Jeter, etc) he got a lot more exposure by being in NY and a lot more adulation for being on teams that won”

    Spoken like a true member of Red Sox Nation”

    see prior hirhurim for a very famous member of Red Sox Nation

    from Hirhurim of 7 years ago
    “October 21, 2004
    Let me be clear that I have zero interest in sports. Even among the various sports, I find baseball to be one of the least interesting.

    However, Soloveitchik trivia is a different story. According to Dr. Jeffrey Woolf, R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik was a Red Sox fan.”

  69. “from Hirhurim of 7 years ago
    “October 21, 2004
    Let me be clear that I have zero interest in sports. Even among the various sports, I find baseball to be one of the least interesting.

    However, Soloveitchik trivia is a different story. According to Dr. Jeffrey Woolf, R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik was a Red Sox fan.””
    I independently have heard from 2 different living people who have had decent amount of contact with the Rav that he was to say the least familiar with the Red Sox-one tidbit after Bucky Dents homerun the Rav walking home from schul kept repeating “Bucky Dent”
    Of course, it clearly was not a major issue with the Rav-but he and his family were proud Bostonians.

  70. “violence. All the aesthetic virtues of athleticism do nothing to diminish the sheer violence of the sport. We have no need to delve into an erudite discussion of the Mishna (Bava Kamma 92a) regarding one who invites another to maim him. We simply intuitively feel and know that violent athletics are not a healthy or acceptable form of entertainment for ourselves or our children.”

    Why are wrestling and fencing acceptable forms of entertainment/sport for YU?

  71. And once again, Gil, no one cares.

  72. “Might you have thought of that quote watching tonight’s episode of Harry’s Law?”

    Uh, I don’t know what “Harry’s Law” is. Remember that I haven’t watched television in years.

    “Although Harvards stadium is not in Cambridge but in Boston I doubt that either Rabbi Moshe Twersky or his father ever went to a Harvard football game.”

    Particularly since the games were always on Shabat afternoon.

    “Tell that to the Egyptians in Port Said.. I believe 70 people were killed in the last football related riot.”

    Low casualties compared to this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_War

    R’Twersky has a point!

    “Bucky Dent”

    The Rav clearly controlled his language. Everyone else in the Boston area used the term “Bucky ‘Bleep’ Dent”.

  73. That all said, my first Jewish memory was Sandy Koufax not pitching on Wednesday, October 6, 1965.

  74. Gil, are you concerned that letting your children watch the game is a violation of lo tichanem? After all I imagine that they will cheer for or copliment a player at some point in the game. It is unfortunate that many in our community have been advocating the view that lo tichanem precludes one from complimenting gentiles despite the fact that so many acharonim have taken the view that lo tichanem does not apply to contemporary gentiles and despite the fact that the orthodox community has in practice historically rejected the view that lo tichanem applies to contemporary gentiles (witness the fact that many chareidi camps go to professional ball games). I am only mentioning this because of the disturbing recent phenomena in which Rabbis have been saying that cheering for and complimenting the play of sports players, which has always been accepted as halachically ok, is a violation of lo tichanem.

  75. to Moshe Shoshan & Lawrence Kaplan: Here are some “wild” thoughts/realities to ponder:
    1) The Rav was niftar almost 20 years ago. He stopped giving shiur in YU almost 30 years ago. Anyone below 40 came of age when RYBS was already off the public scene, and does not look to the Rav as his rebbe, rather as one of many gedolim from past generations stretching back to Moshe Rabbeinu.
    2) The attitudes of the generation below age 40 will be influenced/set by the mesorah they get from today’s Torah leaders, not yesterday’s leaders, even if you claim today’s leaders are Yiftach and RYBS is Shmuel.
    3) Those in the older generation who insist that no one alive in America today is worthy/qualified to lead and be listened to because today’s leaders aren’t Shmuel are clearly out of step with Chazal’s message to us – “Yiftach b’doro k’Shmuel b’doro.”
    4) RAL, RHS, RMT, etc., do not need to quote the Rav zt”l to be taken seriously – they can stand on their own 2 feet because they are gedolim in their own right and don’t need an ilan gadol to be toleh on. As such, one who never met the Rav can plausibly believe they are telling the truth, because in 2012 they gain nothing by saying something in the Rav’s name as opposed to saying it themselves. Compare that with many others who are not Torah luminaries in their own right, and their attitudes differ markedly from one or more of the aforementioned talmedei chachomim – their only chance to be taken seriously is if they can claim that they are espousing the Rav’s position, and they thus have a significant incentive to fit their ideas into his words. So if you were below 40, who would you believe?

  76. Steve Brizel–

    either a Sox fan or someone who has compared Williams’s and Dimaggio’s stats –it’s truly great (Dimaggio) vs. incomparable (Williams). Dimaggio had an ops great then 1 for four years –the mark of a truly great player. Williams had an ops greater than 1 for 18 years (!). Neither you nor I saw them play, but the numbers don’t lie.

  77. I’m with anon2 who articulates a position regarding RYBS I have previously stated on Hirhurim.

  78. anon2,
    I never said otherwise

  79. “Someone had changed the station so he started turning the dial (remember those?) to get to WQXR”

    Of course, the broadcast stations of the NYTimes, News came from their newsrooms, theyused to every Friday play the Fri night service from Temple Emanuel.

  80. *The Short Vort*
    *Good Morning!*
    * *
    *Today is Sunday evening the 13th of Shevat 5772 and February 5, 2012*
    * *
    *In the Middle of the Bowl*

    As I write these words over 163 million Americans, (that’s more than
    half of the people living in our great country) are tuned out and
    glued to the event referred to as “The Super Bowl”.
    Indeed, if you are reading this as I am writing it, you are part of a
    minority of Americans who are not glued to the tube.
    Truth be told I am not against watching the game and although I myself
    do not have the luxury of dedicating even a few minutes to indulge in
    watching twenty two men bang and slam into each other- as things go
    this is one of the more innocuous diversions which someone can chose
    from.
    However, even with acknowledging that the diversion of the Super Bowl
    is relatively banal, nevertheless a diversion or better said a
    departure it nonetheless is.
    Meaning, let us ask ourselves a basic question.
    */Why/* do we so many people spend hours and often much money to sit
    and watch the game?
    Indeed, any and every thinking person certainly realizes that none of
    the players- irrespective of their respective uniform- represents you
    as an individual.
    The life style, salary scale and entire world outlook of any of the
    players is probably very different than the average viewer of the game
    and certainly and hopefully radically different than your Orthodox
    Jewish game-watcher.
    So let’s go back to our original question.
    Why watch the game?
    The answer I believe has already been given away.
    The game is a diversion or better said ‘a departure’.
    From what do we want to ‘depart’?
    We want to depart from many things; however, most surely we want to
    remove ourselves from the reality of the pressures of life.
    Life is hard; there is no doubt about it.
    It is hard to make a living in this world and it is difficult to raise
    a family.
    It is challenging to get up in the morning and perhaps even more so to
    go to sleep on time.
    Yes my friends, life is hard.
    Therefore, for a few hours on a Sunday evening in February 163 million
    Americans escape from the lethargic doldrums of daily like and are
    transformed into the heroes of the stadium.
    For a few brief hours these couch potatoes become active athletes
    through vicarious competition.
    It is nice to escape and perhaps even necessary.
    Indeed, when I dissolve myself in the virtual world of my writing I
    escape.
    And when I immerse my being into the sea of Torah, I am also departing
    from the humdrum and pedestrian pace of daily life.
    There is nothing wrong with escaping; just make sure that the place
    you /depart to /is superior to the place you have escaped from.

    From R’ Eisenamn of Passaic

  81. The Gedolim (Giants) have defeated the K’noyim (Patriots)? Halavei!

  82. Lawrence Kaplan

    anon2: I do not know what you are talking about, and your sarcasm is entirely out of place. I did NOT invoke the Rav’s name in connection with my criticism of RMT. I only mentioned the Rav in response to anon’s invoking the Rav’s articles on Rav Hayyim Ozer and Rav Hayyim Heller.

  83. .” But playing tackle football is not a violent activity, the intent is never to inflict pain or injury.”

    Intent to inflict pain or injury is not the test of dangerous/violent the results of such activity count.

  84. shaul shapira

    Elliot Pasik on February 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm
    The Gedolim (Giants) have defeated the K’noyim (Patriots)? Halavei!

    More likely: They’ve defeated the (dati) lee-oomi-im! 😉

  85. Anon 2 wrote:

    “to Moshe Shoshan & Lawrence Kaplan: Here are some “wild” thoughts/realities to ponder:
    1) The Rav was niftar almost 20 years ago. He stopped giving shiur in YU almost 30 years ago. Anyone below 40 came of age when RYBS was already off the public scene, and does not look to the Rav as his rebbe, rather as one of many gedolim from past generations stretching back to Moshe Rabbeinu.
    2) The attitudes of the generation below age 40 will be influenced/set by the mesorah they get from today’s Torah leaders, not yesterday’s leaders, even if you claim today’s leaders are Yiftach and RYBS is Shmuel.
    3) Those in the older generation who insist that no one alive in America today is worthy/qualified to lead and be listened to because today’s leaders aren’t Shmuel are clearly out of step with Chazal’s message to us – “Yiftach b’doro k’Shmuel b’doro.”
    4) RAL, RHS, RMT, etc., do not need to quote the Rav zt”l to be taken seriously – they can stand on their own 2 feet because they are gedolim in their own right and don’t need an ilan gadol to be toleh on. As such, one who never met the Rav can plausibly believe they are telling the truth, because in 2012 they gain nothing by saying something in the Rav’s name as opposed to saying it themselves. Compare that with many others who are not Torah luminaries in their own right, and their attitudes differ markedly from one or more of the aforementioned talmedei chachomim – their only chance to be taken seriously is if they can claim that they are espousing the Rav’s position, and they thus have a significant incentive to fit their ideas into his words. So if you were below 40, who would you believe”

    A few weeks ago, the Torah tells us Vakam Melech Chadash Asher lo Yada es Yosef. I would suggest that the above comment is illustrative of a generation that views RYBS’s views as just that of another Gadol and has zero appreciation of his accomplishments as a Gadol BaTorah and the Gadol who had a major role in creating the Charedi and MO worlds of today. I can only wonder what the author thinks of Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim.

  86. For those who missed the game, which was a thriller, for one reason or another, I can proudly state that we watched the entire game with good friends. The YU half time show was superb.

  87. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft — temple emanuel has “kabalat shabat” at 630 all year long, cause you cant have a radio pgm at diff times in diff months thoroughout the year

    “theyused to every Friday play the Fri night service from Temple Emanuel.”

  88. Funny, how RMTwersky uses the same verse used by RHS for the title of his anti-WTG paper, almost exactly in reverse. For RHS, it was meant in its simple sense – “stay in the rut, don’t break down fences.” For RMT, following the metaphorical reading of ShS, and taking into account Rashi’s reading of Avraham Avinu, it’s “break down fences, get out of the rut.”

    And yet, RMT has also written against WTG’s, or at least against understanding RYBS as having tacitly endorsed them.

  89. Also, when you say ‘Mv”r’, I keep thinking “angular momentum”, which is mv/r. Yes, I know what it stands for. Interesting how he doesn’t have his shiurim broadcast on yutorah.org, much like his family’s penchant for protecting the tapes of RYBS.

  90. “MiMedinat HaYam on February 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm
    mycroft — temple emanuel has “kabalat shabat” at 630 all year long, cause you cant have a radio pgm at diff times in diff months thoroughout the year”

    WQXR used to pick up the service at 530 just before their 600 pm NEWS BLOCK

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