Rabbi Keeps Word, Wears Rival Team’s Jersey During Sermon

Rabbi Yisroel Bernath, director of Chabad NDG in Montreal, “reluctantly” kept his word and donned a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey to deliver his Shabbat sermon this past weekend after losing a “spiritual wager” with a colleague in Florida.

From the Canadian Jewish News:

The friendly bet began when the Montreal Canadiens, of which Rabbi Bernath is a devout fan, were down two games to none in the Stanley Cup semifinals.

Prayer seemed to be the only answer – that and social media. He posted his wishes of “good spiritual vibes” to the Habs on his Facebook page.

Friend Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski of Chabad of South Tampa responded on his wall that such good vibrations should not be wasted.

They set up a Skype meeting to discuss the issue further. With a phone video camera rolling, the rabbis commiserated just before the third match. Rabbi Dubrowski is a faithful Lightning fan and is friendly with the team’s owner, Jeffrey Vinik, who is Jewish.

Both wearing their team’s jersey, they tossed around ideas. They agreed that when the odds were against them, Jews have always turned to prayer.

But which prayer? Rabbi Bernath suggested the Shema because it is the fundamental prayer expressing belief in God.

They then decided to encourage as many of the teams’ respective Jewish followers to perform a mitzvah and upload a video of themselves reciting the prayer and post it on Facebook or Twitter at #HabsShema or #BoltsShema, and tag their friends. And it was “game on!”

Perhaps to his regret today, Rabbi Bernath went a step further and suggested a personal wager between the two of them about wearing the opposing team’s jersey.

“Sometimes I get these crazy ideas,” admitted Rabbi Bernath, who also created the “Quebec kippah” at the height of the values charter debate.

Rabbi Dubrowski readily agreed, confidently offering to send his own jersey up to Montreal to collect his bet.

The 2-1/2-minute video went viral on YouTube and Facebook and, if it is any consolation, the Montreal rabbi won in the Shema contest.

More than 300 Canadiens fans prayed for a miracle, while only 50-60 Lightning supporters did likewise, said Rabbi Bernath.

Click here to continue reading at the Canadian Jewish News.

8 Comments

  • 1. Geck wrote:

    Would you write this in a duch to the rebbe? What do you think his response would be? Chassidim shoitim!

    • 2. Milhouse wrote:

      The Duch would say that 350 people not only said Sh’ma but publicized it, and an unknown number said it without publicizing it, and more people who were unaware that there was even such a thing as Sh’ma Yisroel read about it, all at the expense of a pair of shluchim exposing themselves to a little shteching. I’m sure they have both put this in their duchos, and that Rebbe is very proud.

      If the Baal Shem Tov “lowered” himself to get people to say “boruch Hashem”, then these shluchim can certainly do so to get people to say Sh’ma.

  • 3. kavanna wrote:

    So now we have shluchim getting yidden to daven about sports games? Our holy Shema prayer uploaded with hashtags? Shluchim are ‘devout’ fans?
    Oy Rebbe!

    • 4. Milhouse wrote:

      What difference does it make what they daven about? Abi m’davent. And yes, Sh’ma with hashtags; why on earth not? For what was twitter created, if not this?

      And no, of course neither shliach is really a “devout” sports fan, and anyone with any sechel understands that.

  • 5. Moshiach Now wrote:

    I thought our uniform was a fedora, sirtuk/ suit, gartel. #1 you said it perfectly. The problem is that those who stand behind “Shluchim” let the free for all continue.

    • 7. Milhouse wrote:

      Are you worried about “ponim” or about mitzvos? The whole mivtzo’im has “aza ponim”. It’s all about “shtus dikdusho”, being willing to drop ones dignity for the sake of fulfilling Hashem’s will.

  • 8. Don't be afraid. wrote:

    The non-frum yidden won’t like us more if we go down to their level. When they see our standards, that were not afraid of being who we are, then they respect us even more. Very embarrassing.

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