Super Bowl Busha: My Super Ma’acha


super-bowl-xlvii-in-the-superdome-in-new-orleansBy S. Friedman

I think it is a fair summary to say that an important goal of a frum Jew is to live one’s life in the way of the Torah.  How do we as Jews know how to live our lives according to the Torah?  Well, for standardized halacha, we have a Shulchan Aruch and contemporary poskim who have applied halacha to more modern circumstances.  If we really want to follow the correct halachic path of Judaism, all we have to do is look something up (or ask a local rov).  Navigating the Torah path becomes thorny when certain things are not clear cut in halacha.

Societal nuances seem to be one of the challenges of today’s generation.  For instance, a few decades ago, when it was more widely accepted for Orthodox women to not cover their hair, that was a clear violation of what was already recorded in our halacha.

Another example of a major shift is secular entertainment.  Go back not too long ago and many (perhaps most?) families had a TV.  Now, in an Orthodox enclave, it would be taboo to have a TV, or at the very least to openly admit that you do.  Yet, there still remains grey area as to what is an acceptable form of entertainment. A Jewish kid’s video?  Drama productions with a Yiddishe lesson?  TV shows watched on a laptop?  Sports games?

While there never will be an unanimous arbitrator as to what is considered in line with Torah values, sometimes you can perceive that while something may not be halachically wrong, it isn’t what the Torah had in mind either.

In other words, people sometimes do things that are not defined as wrong, but they know it is not right either.  These are things we tend not to bring attention to.  Many people would go to a baseball game (something considered mostly benign when I grew up), yet they would be embarrassed to tell their rov that they went.  That is usually a good barometer of when something may or may not be wrong, but it certainly isn’t right.

I think that it is virtuous of our society that most people keep their “grey area” indulgences tightly under wraps.  They “shter-zich” when they proverbially let their hair down, and while we all either partake in questionable outlets or know of people who do, most of this goes unspoken.  I may know that someone is going to a “not so Jewish place” for a vacation, but he wouldn’t openly talk about it.  It is the Jewish attribute of busha.  People may rent movies that they know it’s better not to, but they won’t show up to shul with a bag from the store so all can see. The hope is that people will grow up and grow out of whatever it is they are doing.

With the above in mind, here are some rhetorical questions: Would any self identified right wing/ultra-Orthodox/chareidi/yeshivishe publication advertise a business that sells tickets to NY Knicks games? Would any yeshiva offer a signed Derek Jeter ball as a prize to their Chinese auction?  We know people in our community are sports fans, but we try not to draw attention to this.  Wrong or not, it isn’t something we advertise.

Or is it? As Super Bowl Sunday approaches, it seems that [almost] every frum local paper has advertisements from eateries for “Super” specials for party platters, hero sandwiches, etc., including the deadline for getting orders in before Super Sunday.  While ads won’t even reference football, the intent could not be clearer.

What happened to our busha?  Bad enough we have vices (and one can debate whether the Super Bowl is a kosher sports outlet or a nefarious media extravaganza with a non-tzniusdik half time show), but why do we accept participation to be trumpeted in such an overt manner?

The same weeklies, as well as local retailers, always complain about an overly sensitive (read: “yeshivish“) readership that dreams up of new cockamamie ways to complain about the Torah standard of what is and isn’t acceptable.  People call business establishments irately because they feature a four year old girl in an ad.  And so on.  Now they’ve asked for it.

Here is my complaint against these publications, as well as the food establishments.  Call me too yeshivishe, call me narrow-minded, call me crazy. I don’t care. I’m calling you out.

[P.S. Kudos to those, including the two largest national frum newspapers in the U.S., who do not feature such ads.]

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  1. wait until next – if Moshiach doesnt come, the Super Bowl will be in Met Life stadium – likely a once in a lifetime event. No doubt tickets will break all records and who knows how many Yarmulkas will be present there

  2. The amount of time people like you spend making Machaa’s, far outlasts the the actual ‘problems’ you are being Mocheh.

  3. Ma’acha is the last word in vayeira. I believe the headline should read “Mecha’a”. This is unless the headline meant “my super ma’achal”, which would go against the content of the article.

  4. u’ve goy a point!
    but let e/o do what they think is rite according 2 their own discretion. we’ve each got out own individualized brains! tnyvm!

  5. I got no problem with someone who watches the Super Bowl. Let them enjoy it. They shouldn’t watch the ads as that compromises their standards. But the problem comes when we blend the two – football and a pre-game Mincha with a post game Maariv and a halftime Daf Yomi shiur. That’s a chilul Hashem!

  6. HUH,,this is the Busha of the generation, having some friends over and eating a Super Bowl nosh? Please we got problems within our kehilla except this is not it.

  7. to quete ayn rand social rules of this kind are placed at unreachable standards so that you will break them and we can hold the guilt over your head and then we scratch our heads y ppl go off maybe they aren’t interested in shouldering the hidden “guilt” of being “bad” all day

  8. Ten years too late. One of the local (now closed) boro park food establishments, had big screen tvs in one of the room for people to watch the game.

  9. All these comments about “mind your own business/ everyone will do their own thing” or that the Frum community has more important things to worry about don’t understand the writer’s point.
    First of all, the writer called this issue “societal nuances” which means small differences. No one said this is an issue like teens at risk or shidduchim.
    Secondly, in my opinion, this is a MAJOR issue. It’s called naval b’rishus haTorah. These are the things that make our community more goyish. If you think that won’t have an effect on your yiddishkeit and on our children’s, then you think you know better than chazal, and you’re ignoring the history of American Jews before the war. They were orthodox but kept on compromising on things and becoming “americanized” until their kids weren’t even frum.

  10. #23 has an even SRONGER point if u think the newspapers / a/t else is compromising on ur yiddishkeit x read it!

    and if i wudn’t have read this article i prob. wudn’t have known that it was superbowl season!

  11. I think the writer presented his point in a very clear and thought out manner. Such a shame that many of those responding are more interested in taking cheap shots at him – or trying to be cute. Some of the comments are downright mean.
    Whether I agree with him, or whether I came away with anything from his piece is irrelevant – what is relevant to me is that he took a position, articulated it eloquently and chose to share it with others. We should all respect him – and if one is so moved to – respectfully disagree – with intelligence and sensitivity.
    Wishing everyone well –

  12. Agree with #10 on the spelling issue.

    Also, why does this bother you? These publications need to make money and this is a good way to sell advertising space?.People are going to be watching the game anyway. Get in touch with reality and realize that as much as you protest against this, there are hundreds of millions of people who are going to be watching the game, and many of them are frum people. It’s just the way it is. No one looks to the local free newspaper for their da’as Torah (I hope). So it makes no difference at all whether they are against, condone or even support watching the game.
    Why don’t you spend more time worrying about things that you might actually be able to change instead of worrying about food advertising?

  13. Leaving aside sports worship in general (I have no problem with baseball ;-D) it’s very sad that rachmanim bnei rachmanim should find football entertaining. Read an article in last December’s Reader’s Digest from a sportswriter who can no longer watch football. Football players put their lives at risk… for what? That they’re well compensated is irrelevant. Especially considering how many kids vie to get there, play with high hopes or even just for fun, yet bear the long-term repercussions.

  14. i am a avid sports fan , and i have to agree with this post. would you advertise the night of the oscars for a oscar party !
    mark my words its going to happen in the future