Halftime Torah for Haredi Football Fans

In haredi circles, watching sports is an activity that is generally frowned upon—above all, it is a distraction from the sacred pursuit of Torah study. Yet it is also at least tacitly considered less pernicious than many other forms of worldly entertainment. Enough Haredim now watch the Super Bowl that an Orthodox organization based in New York City, called Chazaq, offers a “Halftime for Torah” consisting of online lectures by popular rabbis and lay speakers. The idea is to get devout Super Bowl-watchers away from the immodest displays of the halftime show, and to make sure they intersperse their football with some Torah study. Ben Rubin describes the idea:

Rabbi Elya Brudny, a scholar at the Mir yeshiva in Brooklyn and a member of Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages, . . . said that allowing children to watch the Super Bowl is not ideal, especially the halftime show. [But] Brudny acknowledged that among some haredi families, concessions must be made to reality. In some cases, if children aren’t allowed to watch the Super Bowl at home, they’ll watch it at friends’ homes instead. For those people, Brudny said, he had a better solution.

“Bring an outside device, just for tonight,” he said, referring to those who don’t otherwise have television sets at home. “And watch the football as a family.”

The “Halftime for Torah” event has been taking place at least since 2019. Last year, [a representative of Chazaq] said, there were 3,000 separate devices tuned into the program. He estimated that those connections represented around 10,000 people, as viewers tend to watch in group settings.

Read more at Shtetl

More about: American Judaism, Haredim, Sports

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security