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The Super Finger

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons; Feb 8, 2012 at 12:42:12 PM

Of the six closest Super Bowls of all-time, the New York Giants have won three of them, and this year was spectacularly close. But the real buzz in the news grinder is M.I.A.’s finger malfunction. The rapper’s impromptu salute during the halftime show has got the Parents Television Council and others up in arms about indecency during family programming. 

The Vince Lombardi Trophy I'm not a TV watcher, but something tells me that children today are exposed to a lot worse than an errant finger gesture. Of course, this doesn’t mean that watching an episode of Glee will turn a child into a social delinquent. But in Judaism we have a saying: “You are what you see.” Images that enter the mind have a lasting effect – at the least, subconsciously desensitizing us to whatever “indecency” we’re exposed to. 

And yes, it can escalate. In the article, “The Truth about TV,” Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen cites research that posits a clear correlation between the viewing of “indecencies” like violent crime, drug use, marital discord – and the rate they occur in the real world. 

Mussar, the Jewish character-building system, speaks about the idea of Shmirat Einayim – lit: “guarding one’s eyes.” When it comes to inappropriate images, we have the ability to make a choice. Just because something is out there (think of an Islamic beheading video) doesn’t mean we have to watch it.  

Making discriminating choices is a value – a skill, actually – that we need to teach our children. And the need for this is growing, with the increasingly constant bombardment of images and information on the Internet, billboards and smart phones. Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt”l offers some practical tools here

Maybe this Super Bowl incident will draw much-needed attention to what seems to me a genuine educational priority for today.

P.S. Now is a good time to say "hats off" to Rabbi Yaacov Deyo, who invented the concept of SpeedDating in 1998 while teaching at Aish Los Angeles. SpeedDating has garnered dozens of TV and film mentions over the years. On Sunday, before an audience topping 100 million, SpeedDating made its Super Bowl debut in this hilarious commercial for e-Trade.

February 8, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Michal, February 9, 2012 10:08 PM

You were right in all you wrote, but the possibility to get into an article of Rabbi Weinberg, was wonderfull

I like on your articles, that they are "up to the point". I read a lot of other things also (all about spirituality). And normally I have to find, what is important. Here I mustn't look for the most important thing. I get it immediately with every word. -

(2) salem, February 9, 2012 6:47 PM


I have been an M.I.A. fan for many years and her doing somthing like "flipping the bird" is not out of the ordinary : ) If you have never heard her music, you must! It was not appropriate for the Super Bowl. I think parents should take this time to discuss what that hand gesture means and why it is offensive with their children. Also, in response to the other comment, Madonna was Liz Taylor in "Cleopatra" not an Egyption Goddess : )

(1) Eric, February 8, 2012 9:09 PM

What about...

...the blatant idolatry of the halftime show? Egyptian goddess & the whole works...? Didn't Israel even notice? Doesn't Israel care? Or was it just for show? Because if it was, then "whoever's" finger was just part of the stage show... But which was the bigger finger- Madonna's or the other woman's?

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