« Question authority | Main | Harry Potter & Jewish law: healing spells »

July 20, 2005



i talked about some of these issues a while back:


Fine, I’m with you, at least against professional American tackle football. As you said: “I heard that R' Lichtenstein (who was quite the baller in his day, mi-pi ha-shmu'a) distinguishes between sporting activities where the violence is incidental (baseball, basketball) and where it's an integral part of the game (boxing). This latter category constitutes real chabalah [ed. injury]. Some might argue that violent contact is incidental in the game of football. That's crazy naive. … And it's worse than violent movies, because here the violence is real and valued. No "kids can distinguish between reality and fiction" nonsense here. Implication: I don't think it's a good idea to participate in, encourage, or otherwise promote the culture of college and professional football. Bad chinuch, as they say.”

BTW, might you track down a written source for R. Lichtenstein? And what sport did he play?

Leaving American excessiveness for a moment: How would you explain/condone the Lubavitcher Rabbi Joseph Gutnick, president of an Australian football team (Melbourne Demons)?


are you sure that gutnick runs an american style football team and not what we yankees call 'soccer', which would probably go along with baseball and basketball? rugby would be more problematic, i think. nevertheless, i'm not going to lose any sleep over this because of gutnick. he's not best known for his rabbinic credentials.

R' Lichtenstein played basketball (that's the usual connotation of 'baller').

i heard his position from hearsay - reliable hearsay, though. i don't know if it's written anywhere.


The Australian team is definitely not American football, but rather rugby and without much protective gear. The "AFL" website contains a well-stocked section called "injury news". I'll post more on injuries...


The inherent dangers of Quidditch seem to me so great that I don't understand why Molly Weasley inter alia permit their children to play. What about the bludgers? Please note that although there are Jewish children at Hogwarts (or at least, children with Jewish surnames) they do not play Quidditch. My own dear father tells me that he doesn't think he would have permitted any son of his to play football, because it is a dangerous sport. But he is not a halachic authority, merely a concerned Jewish parent (in internet lingo, a CJP.)


Forgive my naivete, but please tell me ASAP, who are believed to be the Jewish children?

Important caveat: my post deals with halakhah, which only applies to Jews and perhaps not even Jews, given relevant gentile law (dina d'malchuta dina). I was planning to explain this in a future post about HP and Noahide laws.

And let's not forget touch and flag football...

What is your reason for thinking Quidditch is so dangerous? Doesn't wizardry protect these poor youngsters?


Well, there is, uh, Anthony Goldstein. I wasn't the only one to notice him:


Of course we don't hear much about him, because he doesn't play Quidditch! This person writes more about the ethnicity of the Hogwarts students:


(The author wrote this before the most recent book, but I think she got a lot of things right.)

Now about Quidditch: the Bludger is an iron ball that has been enchanted so that it will attack the players! The beaters hit the bludgers with bats in order to redirect them to hit players on the other team. In book 4, a professional Quidditch player says of his post-Quidditch ambitions, "I can't be hit by bludgers all my life, now can I?" (I will not reveal more of the plot as you haven't read that one!)


Balabusta -- thanks, that Sugarquill article is a thorough analysis. Are you saying that bludgers wound players enough to qualify Quidditch as a contact sport, like football?

Also, thanks for the tip on Anthony Goldstein. Has anybody written about his halakhic duties (violations) in Hogwarts? I don't suppose he's avoiding Quidditch because his rav considers it a contact sport?


The Minchat Chinuch in his disucssion of hitting parents, takes for granted that they (and individuals) can waive their right not to be hit.

The Rav, reportedly, thought this was absurd, because of the prohibition against self-battery. There is room, though, to distinguish between violence, and violence that results in bodily damage.

(MC in several places tends to view slef directed nagative prohibitions as being different than the other oriented versions: e.g. suicide, self-cursing, and self-battery. Some other time, though...)

MC is actually followed by at least one posek. Rav Unterman (the former Israeli Chief Rabbi) in Shevet Mihuda permitted boxing in British schools, on the grounds that the hitting is not intended to hmiliate the other player, but the whole enterprise is designed to improve them. (Perhaps, shades of permissivities for cosmetic surgery?)

As is well known, there are two different versions of Maimonides's definition of batter, whether it's by way of fighting or humiliation -- these words differ in only one leter in Hebrew).

In any case, I have to admit that regarding sports where people can really get hurt, done recreationally, I do find the argument of the Rav compelling. (When I saw Shevet Mihuda, I couldn't believe what I was reading. From MC, one expects such things ;-> .)



When I get back home I'll look into the sources you cite, thanks. But it sounds as if Shevet Mihuda is based on a different assessment of the bodily damage incurred in boxing. It would be helpful to investigate the relationship between harm to self and to others, eg Minchat Chinuch, because it bears directly on occupational health cases. (And sometimes environmental cases, e.g. a community that is willing to negotiate w/a polluter to accept a degree of harm. Cf Aaron Levine of YU).


Oh, this is totally delightful! I'm a big fan of the Harry Potter books, and it's fun to see halakhic reasoning applied to the legitimacy of playing Rowling's charmingly quirky (imaginary) game.

Though it's true that Bludgers are enchanted to go after players, I think that danger is alleviated by the healing skills of Madame Pomfrey (and, in a real pinch, the mediwitches and mediwizards of St. Mungo's), so I don't think the dangers are such that they would make Quidditch impermissible.

Sora Lucent

No one makes a big deal out of it, but there have always been Jewish kids at Hogwarts. Not many, and not any of the famous ones, but still there are students from the entire U.K. there and from some of the former colonies so it shouldn't be a surprise that I attend.

A huge effort is made to keep the wizarding world secret, so to date only my immediate family knows. It hasn't been easy keeping that secret from the extended family who seem to know every single religious school in the world, who attends it and who has graduated from there. But I got a letter when I

was almost eleven, just like every other muggle-born wizard in England. My parents in Golders Green assumed it was some advert and tossed it, but a few more identical letters arrived and they finally took a look. I was attending the local Akiba Day School and was intending to go the same Bais Rivka that all sisters and cousins and aunts had attended.

Haha. Now I know better. Hogwarts does not take NO for an answer. I never got to meet Headmaster Dumbledore. That would have been something.

He spoke over sixty languages, including Hebrew and a good bit of Yiddish. Some of the Jewish alumni told me that he would astonish their families with his linguistic ability and that would soften them up for the Hogwarts pitch. Professor McGonagal doesn't have quite that ability, but she did win points with my mum when she said that faculty and housemates would be "mispocheh" while I am at school. That didn't impress my dad though. What kind of Jewish kid goes to a school called Hogwarts?

In the end, they relented, although I found out later that all muggle parents do. It's part of the process and Hogwarts headmasters and headmistresses have the recruiting and convincing down pat, thanks to a bit of harmless magic. However, I think my mum is the first muggle mother to ever inspect the Hogwarts kitchens. Professor Mc had to relent on that. My parents weren't going to allow me to go anywhere that didn't provide kosher food.

Believe it or not, she trained two house elves and made sure that my dishes and silver and cooking utensils are kept separately. Becher and Benscher even got special tea towel uniforms. I thought they'd complain about all the extra trouble but they are very proud of their special status.

Hogwarts: A History mentions a bit of Jewish history at Hogwarts. All the Jewish students there have been muggle-born, and they have all been in Ravenclaw House. In the whole recorded history of Hogwarts, there has only been one Jewish student on the Quidditch team, but lots of notable Gobstones players.

So that's it. I guess everything thinks that English boarding schools are totally goyishe, but I just want to put a word in that the most famous one isn't, completely.

buy viagra

I think there are many points that are in discussion about such issues and there will always be that regardless of whether they are unable to adapt to the different changes over time are necessary

uk phone sex

Beautifully reasoned and well written but what impresses me the most is the respect with which you address the concerns of this parent. Well done!


I had to read this post for the title alone, Harry Potter & Jewish Law! Good read anyway, pretty sure there is something in it.


Really, we're going to discuss an ideology based on a harry potter movie ? Jesus...

John Bell

enjoy reading your blog and intend to continue visiting it daily.

Free Poker

I will definitely be back to view some more. Thank you for your very kind comment to me, I'm glad you dropped in to say hi and even better, I have now found your galleries!

Free bonus no deposit

Thank you for your visit,kind words and vote....I am happy you like my paintings...

Poker No Deposit

Thank you for your comments.
You work is excellent! I really enjoy navigate through your blog.
Best regards

No Deposit bonus

Thanks for your kind comments, you have some very colourful and impressive topics on your site.

Free Poker Money

Thanks for your kind words. You have been to some fascinating places, and have done a great job with your online blog.

Poker without purchase

Thanks for openning up my eyes and keep up the good work.

rc helicopter

Impressive blog! -Arron


Nice for share this post. Keep up the good work. Really interesting stuff. That's one thing I'm really looking forward. Looking forward to reading more from you. Thanks for info and good day for You. Till next time.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

March 2007

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Blog cosmos

  • Jewish Blogging

  • Subscribe in NewsGator Online

  • Listed on 

  • <<List
    Jewish Bloggers
Blog powered by Typepad

Google and Newswire

  • Google
    %(domain)s %(domain)s