By Shmuel Miskin, Matzav.com
I thank Matzav.com for allowing me to introduce this new column, The Matzav Rant, which will appear regularly here on Matzav.com. I submitted several pieces of mine to the editors here, and they graciously offered me the opportunity to join their other writers in addressing hot-button issues relating to the frum community.
intransitive verb 1: to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner
2: to scold vehemently
transitive verb : to utter in a bombastic declamatory fashion
Now, while this column won’t strictly fit the definition above of a ‘rant,’ this column will attempt to share some thoughts on random topics that people will find of interest. My thoughts will purposely be kept brief most of the time, but I will try to share a specific opinion on the topic at hand.
For this first post, I’d like to relate what happened to me just last night. I was on my way home after learning with a teenage boy during the evening. As I was driving, I spotted a few boys who appeared to be looking for a ride. I pulled over to the side of the road, where there was room to do so without obstructing any traffic whatsoever, and I asked the boys if they needed a ride. They piled into the car and thanked me several times for stopping. They seemed like nice boys and I began chatting with them about where they learn. I joked with them that they seemed to be in a rush. One boy said somewhat sheepishly that he wanted to get back (I assume to his yeshiva) in time…for the Yankee game.
If they expected me to stop short or act surprised, they were wrong. I’ve dealt with so many boys over the years, so this was nothing new. But one boy, perhaps feeling somewhat guilty, said to me,” Of course you know what they say about Rav Scheinberg…”
I smiled, shook my head, and said that of course I do.
The boy was referring to the famous story about the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Ore, Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg shlit”a, who grew up in America. Years later, after having gone on to become a gadol baTorah, he supposedly commented that to this day, when he hears or sees that the Yankees won, he feels joy in his heart, for he was a Yankee fan in his youth. His satisfaction upon hearing that the Boys in the Bronx were victorious supposedly never went away. Rav Scheinberg’s alleged statement demonstrates the power of what one digests during his younger years.
I told the boys that I have never verified what exactly Rav Scheinberg said, and I even told them that I had just seen a more enhanced version of the story online:
A number of years ago, Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg made a kiddush in the yeshiva for no apparent reason. When asked what the occasion was, he replied that he had heard that the Yankees won the World Series, and he had not gotten excited over it. Overjoyed that after so many years he was finally able to get the baseball of his youth out of his system, he decided to host a kiddush.
To be honest, I find this second version hard to believe, but either way, I told the boys the following:
People, when they feel the need to justify following the Yankees, or any team or sport, seem to always point to Rav Scheinberg.
“When you write a monumental sefer like the Mishmeres Chaim or brilliant volumes like the Tabaas Hachoshen, authored by Rav Scheinberg,” I told the boys, “you can ‘blame’ Rav Scheinberg for your listening to the Yankees. For now, hwoever, listen or follow if you feel you need the outlet, but leave Rav Scheinberg out of it. When you talk about Rav Scheinberg, better focus on his gadlus in Torah. Enough with Rav Scheinberg and the Yankees.”
The boys were quiet, but they accepted what I said, because I had spoken with a smile and without being judgmental. I asked them to excuse my tirade, but explained that they had raised an issue that has been a pet peeve of mine – the Rav Scheinberg Yankees story. So my message is: You want to listen to the Yankees? You can’t resist? Don’t worry. Sometimes I can’t either. We’re human. We know what’s truly important, but we live in a world where we’re influenced by that which is around us. We each work on ourselves and we try to keep ourselves balanced and healthy, with a perspective on what is real and what is not, what is important and what is a fleeting sensation.
But please, don’t blame it on Rav Scheinberg.
Don’t blame Rav Scheinberg for your interest in Yankee pinstripes.