I try to keep up with the news, but between Chanukah shopping, planning my son’s wedding, my job, and monitoring the volley of wild things said by the current crop of presidential candidates, I hope I may be forgiven for slipping a bit behind the latest intelligence. Today I was determined to catch up on one of the most riveting stories sweeping the nation: the “Tebowing” craze.
I had heard of the Big T, but until today never knew what it was all about. For anyone else who got the memo late, Tim Tebow is a quarterback for the Denver Broncos. He is famous not because he’s built like a fullback instead of a quarterback (as if any normal person could tell the difference), and not because the sports mavens criticize his throwing as “awkward” and uneven, though he continues to lead his team to improbable, come-from-behind victories. No, Tim Tebow is famous because the guy is a devout, cheerful and unapologetically evangelical Christian whose faith leads him to drop to his knee on the field in prayer. Tebow will drop and thank even when the pigskin projectile is soaring toward his head from the fifty-yard line at a speed of forty-five miles per hour. The man of faith doesn’t let little things like this bother him.
Tebow’s public displays of faith have irritated loads of people.
Tebow’s public displays of faith have irritated loads of people, who find his gridiron gratitude inappropriate or just annoying. But he’s also tapped into something deep. After all, even people who have spent too much time watching mind-numbing reality TV shows cannot miss the connection between watching a man publicly express his faith and his otherwise unlikely success. That’s why “Tebowing” has become an obsession, one that is spreading faster than low-density, low-fat cream cheese. In fact, “Tebowing” has become so much the rage that it threatens to replace texting as the activity of choice among Americans of all ages – okay, maybe not all.
Even some rabbis have jumped on this kneeling fadwagon and are delivering sermons about it, even though Jews only actually kneel on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (fun fact). "It has made prayer in public something to not be ashamed of," a Jewish guy (but not a rabbi) named Jared Kleinstein told the Wall Street Journal. Kleinstein has scored his own marketing touchdown by ginning up the first web site called Tebowing.com, and therefore giving the phenom its name.
With Tebowmania so rampant, everybody seems to be getting religion. Why, I also read a sports writer’s analysis about why Tebow is so incredibly successful, in a Ten Commandment-type format: “Thou shalt score efficiently” and “Thou shalt inspire the team to play better.” Can halftime Psalm readings be far behind?
Could it be a coincidence that half the nation is now falling to its knees in prayer and the media is covering all Tebow, all the time, so close to Chanukah? I think not. Let’s be honest, folks, everything started with us Jews! Thousands of years before Tim Tebow ever considered writing Scriptural verses on his eye black before playing in the Sugar Bowl, our ancestors, the Maccabees, were Torah Tebowing. Like Mr. Tebow, the Maccabees pulled miraculous victories against their heavily favored rivals, leading the ancient Syrian-Greece bookies to lose their tunics. Siddurs in hand, kippot on head, the Maccabees also stopped to express their faith that the Almighty would deliver their victory before their version of “the big game.” Like Mr. T, the Maccabees also proved you didn’t have to be built like a 300-pound quarterback to put your better-armed opponents on the run.
Why don’t we start a Jewish Tebowing craze? No knee pads required!
So with all due respect to Tim Tebow, who seems like a real mensch, why don’t we start a Jewish Tebowing craze? No knee pads required! It’s so easy if you think about it. Just thank the Almighty throughout the day for waking up, for making sure our internal plumbing works, for a hot, strong Sumatra blend at breakfast, for the tuna sandwich at lunch, for finding that elusive parking spot downtown, and heck, for making that miserable migraine finally disappear.
Jewish “Tebowing” won’t look at dramatic as the dropping down on one knee. In fact, the Jewish style of giving thanks and professing faith is sort of like our Chanukah candles: smaller than our neighbor’s Christmas tree, but what it may lack in physical size it makes up in spiritual substance.
So let’s go, Team Maccabee! This Chanukah, don’t get left behind while the rest of the nation discovers the benefits of public displays of affection for the Almighty! Hey, that reminds me: it’s time for me to say my morning blessings.
See you on the gridiron – Happy Chanukah.