One of America’s Great Rabbinic Minds Weighs in on a Football Player’s Name

Last week, the Indianapolis Colts signed a rookie player whose name, Adonai Mitchell, testifies to the strong Hebraic strains in American culture. It also poses a problem for devout Jewish football fans, as Louis Keene explains:

Adonai is a Hebrew name for God that Jews use during worship; halakhah, or Jewish law, forbids its use outside of ritual contexts. (Hashem, which means “the name,” is generally substituted.) So what do you say when Adonai catches a pass—or drops one?

I reached out to Rabbi Avi Schwartz, an NFL fan who works at Rutgers University Hillel, to get some guidance. It turned out Schwartz had already consulted his own rabbi, Aryeh Lebowitz, a leader at Yeshiva University’s seminary—who in turn asked his rabbi, YU’s Rabbi Hershel Schachter.

Schachter, who is perhaps the leading posek, or halakhic [authority], for Orthodox Jews in the United States, had an answer ready because the question had previously been posed by someone who worked with a doctor whose name sounded like the Hebrew word for God.

“He thought that it’s fine,” Lebowitz said in a voice note Schwartz forwarded. The rationale, Schwartz said, was that “it’s obvious that you’re not calling” a wide receiver . . . “your god.”

Read more at Forward

More about: Football, Halakhah, Names


Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security