Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
What an exciting match-up we have today: Joseph Caro versus Isaac Luria. Two titans of Torah commentary, taking it to the floor! While they both can call the Galilee region their home, these competitors’ styles could not be more dissimilar. Both have majestic coaching trees filled with famous disciples, similar to other greats, and both have systems of philosophical belief that continue to impress long after they lived their lives.
For today’s game, the fans of both rabbis have shown up in full gear and ready to cheer. But, while Luria’s Lions are doing their traditional “Zo-har! Go hard!” chant, Caro’s Caballeros continue to pore over the event program without looking up or making noise.
The referee is ready to start the tip off, but for some reason, Caro has not walked out to center court. As it turns out, he’s gone to the tournament director to complain about his jersey. Apparently, the apparel company spelled the rabbinical great’s name using a K instead of a C. The referees have warned him to get out on the court or the game will start without him, but he’s gone to the scorer’s table because something is amiss.
Hold on now — whoa, what’s this? He’s rearranging the placement of us, the announcers, as well as the various television screens because, as he says, “this is not how you set a table.” Luria’s fans are booing Caro for his needless attention to detail, while Caro’s fan’s boo the Lions for being too hippy-dippy to care about the important aspects of the entire game.
The referee has tossed the ball without Caro on the court and Isaac Luria has reached up to get it. However, he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere with the ball. In fact, he seems to be retreating the wrong direction. We’ve seen this before, but it’s never worked. Luria is committed to his West Coast style tzimtzum offense, withdrawing from his opponent’s side of the court to make space to shoot the ball. But, as always, he steps out of bounds to produce a turnover! Caro is finally ready to get in the game and gets the ball on his end of the court. He seems to have pulled out a book. He’s poring over his playbook, but it’s too long and complicated for him to find the authoritative play to inbound for a score. If he’s not caro-ful, he might violate the 5 second inbounds rule! BRRRRRRR! That’s the buzzer. Luria gets the ball. He inbounds the ball, closes his eyes, and shoots without looking. He’s apparently trying to feel his way to the basket.
I’m sorry folks, but this game is turning out to be a lackluster offensive performance.
We’re in the final quarter of play and the time is ticking down. The score is still tied 0-0. Will either of these teams step up to make a basket?! Caro, finally employing his more traditional East Coast offense, seems to be driving toward the lane. As Caro finally pops off a midrange jumper, Luria decides that, instead of attempting to block the shot, he’ll meditatively chant at it not to go into the hoop.
That method does NOT work, and Joseph Caro gets out of the first round with only one basket scored.
Somehow, Caro’s deliberate method of dribbling managed to just-barely overcome Luria’s free-flow offense… but overall, these scholar’s skills seem more suited to the study hall than the basketball court. Tune in next week to see if Caro can shake the dust off his tablecloth, and use some common sense in the next round.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.