Quiz show rabbi – is it kosher?

A true rabbi is a student of the greatest rabbi, Moses.

Jack Engelhard

OpEds Jack Engelhard
Jack Engelhard
צילום: מתוך האתר האישי

Last night on Jeopardy, the popular quiz show for smart people, one of the three contestants introduced himself as a “rabbi.”

“That ain’t no rabbi,” I said to my wife who watches the show religiously. For her it’s a test to get the answers and questions right. She’s good!

For me, maybe since I can’t keep up, or maybe because men are more competitive than women (am I in trouble already?) it’s like hockey, or boxing, or worse, a blood sport. It’s about finding someone to root for, sometimes on looks alone, and picking someone to root against. That’s the fun part.

I want that person humiliated and destroyed. I want that person dragged through the mud. I want that person hanged, drawn and quartered.

I want that person floored, knocked out and stomped on.

Like this “rabbi.”

I took an immediate dislike to him because he looked like no rabbi to me. 

To me a rabbi looks like the Rebbe did. Or like my father did. Or like the men who taught me Torah and Talmud from Montreal to Cincinnati. Not all had beards, but all had been ordained…granted smicha by other rabbis, none of whom, I am sure, ever appeared with Alex Trebek on Jeopardy.

Nor would a true rabbi ever appear on “The Bachelor” or “Dancing with the Stars” – which is probably what’s coming next.


From what yeshiva is my first question.
Because in a world so full of fakes anybody can wake up in the morning and declare himself rabbi. (From what yeshiva is my first question.)

That is still no reason for me to be so agitated about this contestant, a man I do not know. Does he know unclean from clean, meat from milk? This much is certain: no man goes public like that for the glory of Heaven. He is in it for himself and if he makes a fool of himself unfortunately it reflects upon all of us.

Was he even Jewish, this “rabbi?” Damage done, either way.

No man who’s the real deal would ever precede himself on a game show with that honored title, a title earned through years of toil in Torah.

A rabbi is a master of Jewish Law and Divinity and there ought to be a law against man or woman trifling a designation so treasured.

Women rabbis – that’s another problem for me but let’s leave that for another day, okay?

I tend to be old-fashioned about these things or to put it kindly in my favor – traditional. I like my rabbis traditional, though a touch of hipness is also good. The Rebbe, as I recall, steeped in Torah and mitzvot, but he still knew last night’s score between the Yankees and Red Sox.

None if this explains my annoyance when I come across a person who, like the pig, proclaims itself kosher because it has split hooves. But hides the fact that it does not chew the cud – rendering it unclean and unkosher, like the tricksters who say look at this but don’t look at that and who flourish in our midst.

Playing loose with titles can seem harmless but on the whole, deception can be deadly.

The Jewish people suffer from it every day. That’s the big picture when it comes to deceit and it is the portrait of my alarm.

I mean besides missionaries who come dressed as Jewish holy men.

For at a time when Judaism is being so misunderstood, when Israel is being so mischaracterized, do we really need more murky business? More theft?

Our enemies say our rights are their rights…our traditions are their traditions...our holy sites are their holy sites, even, they say, our Biblical heroes are their Biblical heroes. Surely and above all, they say that our land is their land. Hence, a stabbing a day and everything is justified on their behalf.

As the Land is inviolate, so ought to be the disciples of our first and greatest rabbi and teacher, Moses.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes a regular column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the international classic “Indecent Proposal” now followed by the prophetic thriller “The Bathsheba Deadline.” Engelhard is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: www.jackengelhard.com



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