The Matzav Rant: Don’t Blame Rav Scheinberg for Your Interest in the Yankees



By Shmuel Miskin,

I thank for allowing me to introduce this new column, The Matzav Rant, which will appear regularly here on I submitted several pieces of mine to the editors here, and they graciously offered me the opportunity to join their other writers in addressing hot-button issues relating to the frum community.

Pronunciation: ‘rant

Function: verb

intransitive verb 1: to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner

2: to scold vehemently

transitive verb : to utter in a bombastic declamatory fashion

Now, while this column won’t strictly fit the definition above of a ‘rant,’ this column will attempt to share some thoughts on random topics that people will find of interest. My thoughts will purposely be kept brief most of the time, but I will try to share a specific opinion on the topic at hand.

For this first post, I’d like to relate what happened to me just last night. I was on my way home after learning with a teenage boy during the evening. As I was driving, I spotted a few boys who appeared to be looking for a ride. I pulled over to the side of the road, where there was room to do so without obstructing any traffic whatsoever, and I asked the boys if they needed a ride. They piled into the car and thanked me several times for stopping. They seemed like nice boys and I began chatting with them about where they learn. I joked with them that they seemed to be in a rush. One boy said somewhat sheepishly that he wanted to get back (I assume to his yeshiva) in time…for the Yankee game.

If they expected me to stop short or act surprised, they were wrong. I’ve dealt with so many boys over the years, so this was nothing new. But one boy, perhaps feeling somewhat guilty, said to me,” Of course you know what they say about Rav Scheinberg…”

I smiled, shook my head, and said that of course I do.

The boy was referring to the famous story about the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Ore, Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg shlit”a, who grew up in America. Years later, after having gone on to become a gadol baTorah, he supposedly commented that to this day, when he hears or sees that the Yankees won, he feels joy in his heart, for he was a Yankee fan in his youth. His satisfaction upon hearing that the Boys in the Bronx were victorious supposedly never went away. Rav Scheinberg’s alleged statement demonstrates the power of what one digests during his younger years.

I told the boys that I have never verified what exactly Rav Scheinberg said, and I even told them that I had just seen a more enhanced version of the story online:

A number of years ago, Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg made a kiddush in the yeshiva for no apparent reason. When asked what the occasion was, he replied that he had heard that the Yankees won the World Series, and he had not gotten excited over it. Overjoyed that after so many years he was finally able to get the baseball of his youth out of his system, he decided to host a kiddush.

To be honest, I find this second version hard to believe, but either way, I told the boys the following:

People, when they feel the need to justify following the Yankees, or any team or sport, seem to always point to Rav Scheinberg.

“When you write a monumental sefer like the Mishmeres Chaim or brilliant volumes like the Tabaas Hachoshen, authored by Rav Scheinberg,” I told the boys, “you can ‘blame’ Rav Scheinberg for your listening to the Yankees. For now, hwoever, listen or follow if you feel you need the outlet, but leave Rav Scheinberg out of it. When you talk about Rav Scheinberg, better focus on his gadlus in Torah. Enough with Rav Scheinberg and the Yankees.”

The boys were quiet, but they accepted what I said, because I had spoken with a smile and without being judgmental. I asked them to excuse my tirade, but explained that they had raised an issue that has been a pet peeve of mine – the Rav Scheinberg Yankees story. So my message is: You want to listen to the Yankees? You can’t resist? Don’t worry. Sometimes I can’t either. We’re human. We know what’s truly important, but we live in a world where we’re influenced by that which is around us. We each work on ourselves and we try to keep ourselves balanced and healthy, with a perspective on what is real and what is not, what is important and what is a fleeting sensation.

But please, don’t blame it on Rav Scheinberg.

Don’t blame Rav Scheinberg for your interest in Yankee pinstripes.

{ Newscenter}


  1. I dont know how prevalent sports is in the Yeshiva world today, back in the day (mid ’70s) it was quite prevalent.
    In the Modern Ortho world where I currently live in, sports is it. On the one hand, it seems relatively non-treif, on the other, it is all-consuming for men and boys, especially when men retain their boyish intensity and focus. There’s more to life than sports, it is a great time waster(certainly my time) takes away from studies (Chol and Kodesh) and just seems very childish being concerned what others (the players) accomplish.

  2. I related to my Rosh Yeshiva, R’ Shmuel Kaminetzky, shlit”a the above story about R’ Chaim Pinchus being a yankee fan, etc… then making a kiddush becuase he finally got over it.
    R’ Shmuel told me, “I don’t believe it.”
    So I said, “that R’ SHeinberg was a yankee fan?”
    “No,” responded the Rosh Yeshiva, “that he got over it.”

  3. #2:

    I’m in Philly and just asked the Rosh Yeshiva. Rav Shmuel said he doesn’t know one way or the other, but that the story of Rav Chaim Scheinberg being m’sameach that he finally got over his taste for the Yankees to be in line with Rav Chaim and likely true.

  4. i read the article and comments and am appalled

    the only one i find credible, intelligent and bearing some semblance to truth is #2

    # 3 – you are an embarrassment to frum people – nebach – such words coming out of your mouth !!

    # 4 – ask his children, son in law and grandchildren – betcha they confirm he was a fan and no such kiddush was tendered

    # 1 – me too, although not a sports fan – my girth will attest to that – however i do hope my friends and their children continue enjoying a venue for relaxation

    as for the author.. echad me elef will be a gadol, the rest .. let them be kids for G-Ds sake

  5. #2, as a former Philly talmid, how can a current bochur in yeshiva have acces to the internet?
    Regardless, first of all, this happened a number of years ago, so it seems funny to me that people are hearing the kiddush story for the first time.
    Anyway, the point R’ Shmuel was making to me, which he explained not that I deduced, is that the yetzer hora for following sports is very strong, and he felt that once you had it, it probably never goes away (completly- we’re not chas v’sholom saying that any Choshuv talmud chochom that once upon a time followed sports runs to a bar to watch every game- just that it never truly leaves your system)

  6. Sports is in everywhere and with almost all bochrim.. The sound of the wooden slammer, the ball caught in outfield and the faragrance of the leather glove is part of the Jewish Orthodox DNA. We grew up hearing about ball from Rav Yaakov, Rav Moshe and many others. Its an innocent chilling out activity and …..its one, two, three strikes you’re out in the old ball game.

  7. Rav Scheinberg Shlita just lost his Rebbetzin and everyone is talking of the Yankees? My heart was broken when I thought of his loss of his beloved Rebbetzin. Let me tell you a true story of Rav Scheinberg. When I was in Yeshiva in Yerushalayim twenty years ago, my Father had a massive heart attack and had bypass surgery. I was a nervous wreck and only had time to see Rav Scheinberg for a bruchah for my Father that he should live and recover before the surgery. Rav Scheinberg gave him a brucha for “chaim.” My Father was just nifter a year and a half ago. Rav Scheinberg’s brucha gave him Chai – 18 – more years !!! May HKBH bless Rav Scheinberg with Arichas Yomim and Shanim. Thank you Rav Scheinberg. You are a great tzaddik and I will never forget the power of your bruchah.

  8. Yishar Koach R’ Shmuel Miskin, you started on the right foot. Just from reading the comments so far, your excellent point is well made, even if one person seem to have missed it. May you have continued Hatzlocho for the benefit of Klal Yisroel, especially our young children.

  9. #9 , I basically gave up with baseball and rarely follow it at all since the last baseball strike, I got pretty turned off by baseball.

  10. Imagine, a frum kid liking baseball…..a shanda!

    Like we don’t have enough problems in our communitities we are worrying about baseball.

    May Hashem have ruchmonos on our neshamas.

  11. Mommy bear and Daddy bear were in divorce court.

    The judge looked down and asked the Baby Bear, “Do you want to live with Daddy Bear?”

    “Oh, no,” Baby Bear replied, “I don’t want to live with Daddy Bear. He beat me.”

    “Well, then you should live with Mommy Bear,” answered the judge.

    “Oh no, I don’t want to live with Mommy Bear. She beat me.”

    “Well then, Baby Bear, who do you want to live with?”

    Baby Bear said, “I want to live with the Chicago Bears. They don’t beat anybody!”

  12. I have had the opportunity to know Rav Sheinberg personally and through his talmidim.

    I am quite sure that Rav Sheinberg was a fan of the (B’klyn) Dodgers and not the Yankees. It is a documented fact that he was called Lefty as a child because of his prowess at stickball. it is said that he recently heard about a Dodger victory and said “it still feels Geshmak” (even though he and the Dodgers have moved over the past eight decades).

    I hate to argue with Rav Shmuel shlita, but both versions of the story about the kiddush are quite unlikely and uncharacteristic.

    The lesson of all this is that Gedolim too had normal childhoods and that no child should write off his chance at Gadlus just because he enjoys pitching.

  13. I agree with azh. In Rav Scheinberg’s youth, yiddishkeit demanded allegiance to the Dodgers. It is difficult to believe that a Yankee fan could develop into a godol.