Rabbi studying during Israel-Scotland soccer match goes viral

Social media users cracked jokes after a camera caught a man reading holy text in the stands.

November 21, 2018 14:21
1 minute read.
Rabbi studying during ISR-SCO game goes viral

Rabbi studying during ISR-SCO game goes viral. (photo credit: EYTAN HALON)


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Israel may have lost to Scotland during the Nations League soccer game in Glasgow on Tuesday night, but one of the most memorable – and viral – moments of the evening was when a religious Jewish man was caught on camera in the stands studying from a holy text – inspiring jokes and memes galore.

At one point during the exciting match, the cameras panned to a man with a full beard and a large black kippa, who was reading from what appeared to be a sacred Hebrew text.
“I think he missed the goal,” joked one announcer.

“Must be a good read,” the other announcer quipped.

Video and photos of the man – sitting in the stands with his family – quickly went viral on social media and on Whatsapp, with many cracking jokes at the sight. Several Twitter users joked that the man was studying the rules of the sport, while others wondered if he was looking up spells to cast against the Scottish team.

“What you do when Kick-off is at 7:45pm and Maariv [the nightly prayer service] starts at 8:00pm,” joked Tal Ofer, a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Arsen Ostrovsky, a pro-Israel activist, tweeted: “Clearly #Israel needs all the help we can get in the football match against #Scotland happening now!”

Sports journalist Nina Tavallaey joked: “There’s superstition and then there’s this. Brilliant,” while Jewish Chronicle reporter Daniel Sugarman quipped: “There’s never a bad time to do Daf Yomi.”

So who is the man in the stands and what was he studying?

According to multiple sources, the man is Rabbi Zev Leff of Moshav Matisyahu in Israel, a native New Yorker who was visiting his grandchildren in Scotland – who certainly appeared to be more interested in the game than the their grandfather. Leff’s website describes him as “one of Israel’s most popular English-speaking Torah educators.”

According to the Yeshiva World News site, Leff was studying from Shev Shemaytsa, a study of Talmudic logic by the 18th century Rabbi Aryeh Leib HaCohen Heller.

Either way, it didn’t help the Israel team win its match.

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