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The Theology of Football
** This is a revision of a post from January 2013. Lucky for us, we have lots of January football in Baltimore.
Black is the color I’m wearing today. It’s been a short week and I forgot to wear my usual purple. You would think it would be hard to forget with all the excitement surrounding our home playoff game this Saturday. But the truth is, even in a regular week, Purple Friday and Erev Shabbat is a hard sartorial combination.
Without a doubt, I am sure that tonight or tomorrow in shul I will be asked, “Rabbi, you’ll pray for the Ravens won’t you?”
There is so much strange about this I don’t even know where to begin. Yes, I’m a Ravens fan. Yes, I hope they beat the Pats on Saturday. Yes, I’ll be watching (after Havdalah) and yelling encouragement at the TV screen. But, my praying for a Ravens win? Let’s talk about why that theology doesn’t quite work.
Number One – My prayers are no different from your prayers. Judaism does not believe in the necessity of prayers by intercessors. We don’t need priests or even rabbis to mediate our personal relationship with God. If you have something to tell God, tell God yourself!
Number Two – Do we really imagine that in a world of Charlie Hebdo and Hurricane Sandy and Har Nof and … and … and that God cares about the outcome of a sporting event?! That prayers could impact the score of a football game?!
C’mon friends. Let’s be sophisticated Jewish thinkers here. So I can assure you that I will be praying over the course of the next several days and I will also be looking for a Ravens win, but I won’t be confusing the two.