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Newser 12 October, 2021 - 09:35am

I am talking about the award-winning Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso.”

Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is a Midwestern college football coach who is recruited to coach AFC Richmond, a British football team. Except, of course, British football is soccer.

Ted’s acclimation to his new geographical location, his new job and his changing family situation is simultaneously funny, poignant and wise.

Ted is always ready with pieces of Lasso Torah. My favorite: “Limbo. Great party game; bad relationship status.”

What can rabbis — and other clergy — learn from Ted Lasso?

As are most rabbis and clergy. In my experience, most clergy have not grown up in the communities they serve.

Like the founders of Western religion — Abram and Sarai — who make their initial appearance in this week’s Torah portion. They come from somewhere else. They are from across the River. They are Hebrews/Ivrim — the people from the other side, foreigners, the Other.

That might actually be what makes clergy effective — that they are from somewhere else. An older colleague once described his rabbinate as being “one-quarter pastor; one-quarter teacher; one-quarter manager; and one-quarter visiting anthropologist.”

That last item on the invisible job description can be a blessing, because it prompts clergy to be openly curious about what they experience, and then interpret that experience.

It is also a curse, or a mild curse, because, obviously, you have to learn the culture. That is always a learning curve. Depending on geography, sociology and one’s own instincts, that task  can take time and energy — and it often comes with errors and a pile of faux pas.

Trust me. Been there, done that.

Ted is clearly out of his depth in his new situation. His personal style — Midwestern, folksy, aw shucks — clashes with his new environment. This earns Ted the unseemly British nickname of “wanker.” (Look it up.)

In one episode, Ted appears at a local school, and a kid calls out: “Wanker!”

Unfazed, Ted goes on to introduce the team captain, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), and the kids enthusiastically welcome him. The contrast to the reception for Ted is palpable.

If this upsets Ted, he does not show it. In that sense, he demonstrates what Jewish mysticism calls tzimtzum — the ability to contract into oneself and to let others have power.

Or, if you will, the words of the Talmud:

Our Rabbis have taught: those who are persecuted and do not persecute in turn; those who listen to contemptuous insults and do not reply; those who act out of love and are glad of sufferings — concerning them, Scripture says: “They that love God are like the sun going forth in his strength.” (Judges 5:31)

Clergy get a lot of criticism. Sometimes, that criticism actually morphs into something like abuse, often from well-meaning people who simply do not know how to better articulate their needs. (To my knowledge, no one has called me a “wanker.” At least, not to my face.)

It takes moral courage and inner clarity to swallow it — to say “this only seems to be about me, but something deeper is going on” — and not to “hit back.”

In the first season, Ted benched the popular and narcissistic Jamie Tartt. This did not make Ted particularly beloved.

It did not matter to him. He was able to keep his eye on the ball (figuratively and literally). Ted showed the team that it could win, even without Jamie’s efforts.

Ted’s one-word credo is: Believe. Without some kind of fundamental emunah — faith, belief, security, value system — you simply cannot be in the game. Whatever that game is.

Season 2 spoiler here: Ted has panic attacks. He confronts his demons (with the help of a therapist), deals with his own broken family of origin and learns to be OK with the fact that a supposed friend outed him to a local newspaper.

The literary power of the Ted Lasso series is that each of the main characters embarks on a journey of vulnerability — Ted, Rebecca, Jamie and Roy.

It is not only that Ted wanted to adopt and maintain that British stiff upper lip. It was that he wanted to keep the focus on the team, and not on himself.

Likewise, with clergy. If you believe sharing your vulnerabilities will help others, go for it — judiciously and sparingly.

Because Ted knew, all along, that it was not about him.

His job: getting the players to work together, to hopefully win some games — but mostly, to get them to be the best versions of themselves.

That is an interesting way of viewing our vocation. We have a multileveled team — fellow professionals, a board, the congregation. Like all coaches, we can hope the teams under our tutelage will use their gifts to the best of their abilities. We know when we can push them and when the extra efforts will strain them.

The sports metaphor might be even more powerful than we had imagined.

The words of the wise are like a young girl’s ball. As a ball is flung by hand without falling, so Moses received the Torah at Sinai and delivered it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, the elders to the prophets, and the prophets delivered it to the Great Synagogue.

That is how the ancient rabbis imagined the great chain of tradition, that went from generation to generation: as a ball that is tossed, playfully, from teacher to student.

Watch “Ted Lasso.” You will laugh. But, as the series develops, you will wind up with a small tear in the corner of your eye.

It is that tear that clergy know so well.

Read full article at Newser

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops have not yet complied with vaccine mandate as deadlines near

The Washington Post 12 October, 2021 - 08:23pm

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and serves on the panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, on Sunday criticized the Republican Party by characterizing it as “an autocratic cult around Donald Trump” that is “not interested in governing.”

“It is not interested in even maintaining the solvency and creditworthiness of the country,” Schiff said, during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And we have to recognize that they’re not interested in governing, and so we’re going to govern, we’re going to have to do it and [if] we have to do it with our own votes we will do that.”

Schiff went on acknowledge the possibility of another Capitol attack before taking aim at Republicans who embrace the Big Lie of a stolen election, citing Sen. Chuck Grassley‘s (R-IA) appearance at a rally where former President Trump announced his endorsement for the longtime senator’s eighth term as well as House Minority Whip Steve Scalise‘s (R-LA) repeated refusal to say whether the 2020 election was “stolen” during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” (Grassley initially condemned Trump earlier this year amid the former president’s refusal to concede.)

“We saw Grassley in Iowa yesterday, unable to condemn the President’s effort to get the Justice Department to overturn the election,” Schiff said. “Scalise this morning, another Republican leader unable to acknowledge that the election wasn’t stolen. It’s these personal capitulations that are putting our country at risk.”

“We should, I think, get those documents soon because the sitting president has the primary say in executive privilege,” Schiff said. “We also want to make sure that these witnesses come in and testify, and we are prepared to go forward and urge the Justice Department to criminally prosecute anyone who does not do their lawful duty.”

Last week, the Jan. 6 committee threatened referring uncooperative witnesses for criminal contempt of Congress after Steve Bannon’s lawyer told the panel that his client will defy its subpoena. Bannon’s defiance occurred after Trump asked advisers to invoke executive immunity in an effort to avoid handing over documents or giving testimony.

“While Mr. Meadows and Mr. Patel are, so far, engaging with the Select Committee, Mr. Bannon has indicated that he will try to hide behind vague references to privileges of the former President,” Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) said in a statement.

WATCH: @RepAdamSchiff tells @margbrennan the Republican party is an "autocratic cult around Donald Trump" and is not "interested in governing" or "maintaining the solvency of the country." pic.twitter.com/f2doChgscP

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on Sunday said that President Biden “agrees with” the reconciliation…

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) on Sunday said that although he understands Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) frustration with Republicans…

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday reiterated her support for axing the debt ceiling days after 11 Republicans helped Democrats…

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