Joshua Hammerman
Rabbi, award winning journalist, author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi"

Jewish Super Bowl prediction

It’s not easy for me to make my Jewish Super Bowl prediction this year, still in mourning for my New England Patriots. But since I’ve almost always been right, as a public service I must meet the challenge.

So who will it be: Broncos or Seahawks? Let’s see how the (Jewish) stars align…

Let’s start with geography. I’ve always liked Seattle and the Native American leader Chief Seattle was known for his pearls of environmental wisdom. But not even the lovely Cascades can beat the Rockies for sheer natural beauty. It’s not just about mountains, though. When Gershwin wrote “the Rockies may tumble, Gibraltar may crumble, they’re only made of clay; but our love is here to stay,” he was paraphrasing Isaiah 54:10: “For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from you.” Was God speaking to Bronco fans in that verse?

Or how about this? In Joshua 24, we read that Joshua was buried north of Mount Ga’ash, which was known to be a volcano. Seattle is situated north of North America’s most famous volcano, Mount St. Helens. It so happens that Ga’ash today is best known as a nude beach north of Tel Aviv. Seattle, like Israel, has nude beaches (sorry, no hyperlink. Just trust me, it does). Denver doesn’t have nude beaches (Denver is landlocked). So the needle seems to be leaning Seahawks here.

Since both teams come from states that have legalized marijuana, neither gets the edge derived from Genesis 9:3, where God says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”

Coffee? Howard Schultz, owner of Starbucks, is Jewish. But there is no Starbucks Haggadah. That honor is reserved for Maxwell House, and there’s a Maxwell’s Coffee House in Denver. Plus Golda Meir once lived in Denver and she was known to drink a dozen cups of coffee a day. In addition, she is best known for fixing a steaming pot of tea for guests. Jewish folklore favors tea. Jewish history favors Golda over Schultz. Edge to the Broncos.

Oh yes, and there are also more Jews in Denver than Seattle. Another plus for the Broncs.

There is to my knowledge no “seahawk” in the Bible, but hawks do appear. In Leviticus, chapter 11, the hawk is listed among unkosher birds. Interestingly, the hawk is listed just below the raven and indeed, the Ravens won last year’s Super Bowl. Coincidence?

The Eagles also appear there, both before and after, possibly indicating that while the Eagles would GET to the big game before the Seahawks, which they did, they wouldn’t win it until later, which, if Seattle wins this week, would indeed be true.

Hawk in Hebrew is “Netz.” (I thought they played in Brooklyn!) Commentaries about the bird focus on its blinding speed. And if we are comparing the two quarterbacks in this game, the Seahawks hold a definitive speed edge.

The rabbis commented on the hawk’s keen eyesight, saying in the Talmud, “It can live in Babylon and see everything that people are doing wrong in the land of Israel.” That speaks to excellent scouting and Seattle’s superior pass defense to stop long range throws.

As for the Broncos, horsesdon’ttypically do well in water. A few weeks ago in the Torah, we chanted the triumphant Song of the Sea… triumphant for Israelites, I should clarify, but not so great for the horses.

Ashira L’Adonai Ki Gaoh Ga’ah,” it begins, “(“I will sing to God, who has triumphed gloriously,”) “Soos v’rochvo ramah va’yam” (“Horse and driver have been hurled into the Sea”).

Considering the fact that thegame is taking place in the Jersey swamps, it is tempting to toss in all the cards at this point and proclaim that the Seahawks will sink Denver in a rout.

Especially when you figure in how “Ga’ah sounds like “Ga’ash” and there are no nude beaches in Denver.

But the Broncos were incredibly impressive in their win over my Patriots (sigh) two weeks ago. And there are some positive signs in our sources.

Curiously, there is a biblical character (Numbers 13) whose last name is “Soosi.” The root meaning of “soos,”(horse) incidentally, is “swift,” which pretty much describes the Broncos, both offensively and defensively. They are built for speed.

According to an onlineconcordance, the word soosappears 283 times in the Hebrew Bible. With the landof Israelbeing so mountainous, horses were not as useful as mules and oxen and therefore not as plentiful as they were in flatter places, like Egypt andArabia. On the plain, horses and chariots were formidable, but you can ask the Canaanite general Sisera how things went once it got hilly and wet. Or ask Pharaoh. And they never had to play in the swamps of New Jersey.

Bottom line – a wet, muddy field favors Seattle. A snowy field all the more.

Typically, horses are seen as instruments of war, employed most often by the enemies of Israel See (Deut 20:1) Despite their threatening status (and how often in history have Jews been chased down by the horses of Cossacks, Roman soldiers and Crusaders), they are also admired, especially for their speed (see Isaiah 30:16). Clearly, the biblical authors were aware of the Broncos’ lightning fast attack. Horses are also symbols of dignity and honor (Esther 6:11). Think of that scene in the book of Esther when Mordechai, not Haman, got to ride through town on horseback – one of those great “gotcha” moments in Jewish history.

But a horse is also a symbol of vanity and false hopes. Psalm 33;17 is rather indicative of the Broncos’ recent history: “A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.”

So, what will happen on Sunday?

Check Job 39:26“Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?

The numerical equivalent of the word “netz” (hawk) is 140. That is equivalent to the word “koom,” “arise” (without the vowel). Perhaps the numbers are hinting at something here. The Seahawks will arise late in the game – and it might come down to whether the Seahawks are headed toward the south side of the field in the fourth quarter.

Interestingly, only a few verses earlier in Job, in verse 39:20, we read: “Have you given the horse his strength? Have you clothed his neck with fierceness?” Could this juxtaposition of verses dealing with hawks and horses be the Bible’s way of hinting how they will end up on the scoreboard, that the hawks will score 26 and the horses 20?

If you need more proof, check out verse 18: “When the time cometh, she raises her wings on high, and scorns the horse and his rider.” The wings seem to have it over the hooves.

And how will it end?

In Hebrew, the name of Seattle’s quarterback, Russell, is an acronym for sergeant. With military precision and a strong ground game, Wilson will lead the Seahawks down the field for a go ahead score late in the fourth quarter.

The Hebrew word Peyton (“pie-tan”) means “poet,” or the composer of a prayer (apiyyut). So Denver’s Manning will throw up a prayer in the game’s final seconds, a “hail Mary,” as it were.

It will fall incomplete. Horse and driver will be hurled into the swamp.

Only one thing can save them. The Talmud prescribes a magical amulet where suspending the tail of a fox between the eyes of a horse wards off evil. In order to win, then, Bronco coach John Fox must head to the end zone before the game and squat between the eyes of the Bronco logo. Apparently, only the coach’s tush can save the team.

Otherwise, I’ll go with the Joban verse discrepancy and say that the final score will be 26-20, Seahawks.

…of course it must be stated that in no way do I condone gambling, and past performance should not be an indicator of future results

About the Author
Award-winning journalist, father, husband, son, friend, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and rabbi of Temple Beth El in Stamford, CT. Author of Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi – Wisdom for Untethered Times and the upcoming book, "Embracing Auschwitz: Forging a Vibrant, Life-Affirming Judaism that Takes the Holocaust Seriously." Rabbi Hammerman was a winner of the Simon Rockower award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism, for his 2008 columns on the Bernard Madoff case, which appeared first on his blog and then were discussed widely in the media. In 2019, he received first-prize from the Religion News Association, for excellence in commentary. Among his many published personal essays are several written for the New York Times Magazine and Washington Post. He has been featured as's Conservative representative in its "Ask the Rabbi" series and as "The Jewish Ethicist," fielding questions on the New York Jewish Week's website. Rabbi Hammerman is an avid fan of the Red Sox, Patriots and all things Boston; he also loves a good, Israeli hummus. He is an active alum of Brown University, often conducting alumni interviews of prospective students. He lives in Stamford with his wife, Dr. Mara Hammerman, a psychologist. They have two grown children, Ethan and Daniel, along with Chloe, Casey and Cassidy, three standard poodles. Contact Rabbi Hammerman: (203) 322-6901 x 307
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