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Embracing 'Tebowing'

For the uninitiated, Tebowing is defined as, "to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different."
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Tim Tebow played poorly this past Sunday in a losing effort against the Detroit Lions. I have nothing more to say about that. What I do want to address is the new craze that has captured the hearts and minds of millions of Tim Tebow fans around the world: "Tebowing."

For the uninitiated, Tebowing is defined as, "to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different." While Tebow has been caught Tebowing at different times in his young career, the rage only began last week when he led the Broncos to a thrilling overtime victory over the Miami Dolphins. At the end of that game the cameras panned to Tebow and, as if on cue, he began Tebowing.

The definition and concept of Tebowing, as well as its name, are the brainchild of Denver native Jared Kleinstein, who now runs the popular website On it you can find hundreds of "up to the minute" uploads of people Tebowing. Among the many pictures, there is one of a young boy Tebowing while undergoing chemotherapy, which actually caught Tebow's attention. I find the pictures amusing, cute and mostly done in good taste.

Admittedly, Tebowing has its detractors. For them, Tebowing is just as silly as planking. The only difference is that instead of lying flat in a public space, they are kneeling on one knee. Some argue that Tebowing is an affront to those people who actually pray to God and take their religion seriously.

Tebow, however, is supportive of the concept. Here's what we had to say about it after practice this past Friday: "Yeah, some people don't necessarily take it seriously but they're on their knee praying, so who knows what you're going to think about after that and how that can affect you? Hopefully, it's a good example for people."

Tebow's assessment -- that the pros of Tebowing outweigh the cons -- is found in the Jewish tradition. The Talmud teaches, Mitoch shelo lishma ba lishma. This means that if a person, initially, develops good habits or good behaviors for the "wrong" reasons, eventually he will begin to do those same behaviors for the "right" reasons. Based on this concept, Maimonidies asserts that people should be encouraged to fulfill God's will by being offered incentives for religious observance.

It's true that most of the people Tebowing are not praying at all; they're just having a good time with it. But is there a downside to Tebowing? Instead of planking, which is highly dangerous, they're practicing something that is not only safe and family friendly, but something that is deeply connected to prayer and to God. That, I believe, is a beautiful thing!

As a rabbi, I find myself extremely envious that Tim Tebow can get so many people around the world thinking about prayer. I, and many other clergy, dream about having the platform to "preach the gospel" like he does. If Tebow's football career doesn't pan out, as the experts have been predicting for the last couple of years, ad nauseam, his contributions to faith, religion and God are Hall-of-Fame worthy.

I hope and pray that Tebow's quarterbacking skills improve over the rest of the season and that he has a successful and fulfilling football career. More importantly, though, I hope he continues to do the holy work of bringing people closer to God.

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