Friday, February 17, 2012

Rabbis letting their hair down?

The Archbishop of Toronto is now in Rome, where he is going to become a Cardinal. As I heard it on the radio this morning, he entered St. Peter's Square wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, to demonstrate that his new position won't distract him from serving his Canadian constituency. [You can see pictures here.]

All jokes about Cardinals and Maple Leafs/Blue Jays aside, I wonder about this. "Cardinal" is a pretty serious position within their hierarchy; a Cardinal can become Pope. We don't have their system of authority, and I don't mean to make any sort of equation between what they believe and what we believe, but I imagine a rough corrolary, in terms of solemnity, would be a rabbi becoming a Rosh Yeshiva at YU, or a member of the Moetzes Gedolei haTorah, or the Chief Rabbi of a country.

So I'm imagining a rabbi who has been selected for some prestigious position doing something similar on the cusp of his inauguration - donning a sports jersey in the plaza before the Kotel, perhaps. I know some rabbis who would do it; I know others who would never dream of it. Certainly, I know many Jews who would consider it a diminution of respect for the position he is accepting; I get raised eyebrows just for having a blog!

What do you think - is this a playful nod to home, or a disrespectful lack of solemnity?

Note: It isn't clear to me that this photo-opportunity was during any sort of public event; perhaps it was done outside of any formal context. I still find the question interesting.


  1. Is hockey as a religion in synch with his official religion?

  2. It looks like this was done as you say "outside of any formal context". But as you note, it depends on the individual; and how serious he takes himself. From what I've heard on the radio he is an unpretentious "regular guy", so this is in character. And I don't think doing it outside in the square is disrespectful of his current position; maybe it would be after he gets his official "promotion".

  3. Perhaps they realize the difference between a mosheil and a melech per the Gra - the former latter rules with the love and consent of the ruled.

    Joel Rich

  4. It must have been about 25 years ago or more, The RCA OU's Rabbi group, if I remember the initials correctly, had an Israel convention and a day trip to Shiloh. A few dressed down, bermuda shorts and it just seemed so strange to us locals.

  5. Anonymous 9:24 AM-
    I have yet to see a Second Coming of Mark Messier.

    Definitely one way to look at it.

    Is this about ruling or worshipping?

    Some people just shouldn't be wearing shorts...