Fighting Halachically?


Published June 09, 2010, issue of June 18, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Is it kosher to box? Thanks to Yuri “Lion of Zion” Foreman and Dmitriy “Star of David” Salita, this is no esoteric question. After all, Foreman just lasted nine rounds against Miguel Cotto in Yankee Stadium, a match he lost in a technical knockout but fought through obvious pain and with such ferocity that he made the tribe proud. And while it’s true that Salita lost his last fight in less time than it takes to sing Simon and Garfunkel’s boxer song, it was his first defeat as a professional boxer.

Both men say they are observant Jews, and won’t fight on Shabbat or holidays, and Foreman is almost a rabbi, so the halachic question is fair game. Naturally, tradition provides an answer to suit anyone’s preference.

In Jewish text, there is a prohibition against excessive violence — many rabbinic interpretations of biblical verses come to that conclusion. There is also an obvious discomfort with injuring oneself.

But other scholars say that a prohibition against boxing rests on two caveats: safety and permission. For some, it hinges on whether the activity is done in a manner that prevents harm — by wearing headgear, for instance. Others say that if permission is granted, if you enter the ring willingly, then it’s okay.

Or, as Foreman told late-night talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel recently: “Me and my opponent, we’re aware of the risks involved in the game, and we already signed the contract, and we already know what’s involved, so it’s a kind of a bit of a green light.”

Of course, Foreman also had this to say: “I started boxing way before I came to religion. Right now, boxing is my job, and rabbis’ salaries are not that big.” Yeah, that’s the answer.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love.
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. Is this money spent wisely?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.