And the High Priest goes in for the field goal…

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In the mid-’90s, Israeli television personality Gil Kopatch brought Rabbi Mordechai Gafni on his sports/talk/news show to discuss the weekly Torah portion. Sometimes they’ll broadcast with glasses of wine, sometimes, as below, with tiny camels parading across the SportsCenter-like desk. Note where the videos are embedded — it’s from Spike.com, the website of the “television network for men.”

This caused a stir among everyone you’d expect it to (remember, this is Israel), along with several folks you wouldn’t — for instance, the religious political party Shas, which said they didn’t show enough respect for the text. On the other hand, Kopatch’s “special guest” was Marc Gafni, a rabbi and New Age guru with an alleged history of sexual misconduct that’s pretty thorough and disturbing.

(After seeing this, we had a whole discussion in the office about the improprietous allegations, which brought us to a website that exists for the purpose of providing information for sexual offenders in the Jewish community. Pretty disturbing, although more disturbing is the fact that I learned about it from his own website bio, which basically says the sexual equivalent of “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” — that is, it immediately insists that Rabbi Gafni was accused of unreasonable things and that he treats each of his relationships as individual and beautiful. (And yes, it does say “each of his relationships.”)

Back to the movies, though. If you can, and if you understand Hebrew, focus on Gil Kopatch — he’s the bald dude in the hoody. He’s hilarious, and has a sometimes unconventional way (he calls Eve “the first sex bombshell”) of getting to the heart of the Biblical text. I can’t believe no Christian televangelist co-opted this approach — although, then again, I can’t really conceive of two sportscasters discussing whether Jesus and Mary Magdalene ever “got down.”

Posted on November 24, 2008

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