The Hashgocho Protis in the naming of an American football stadium
By: D. Trenk
On August 1, 2012, the largest celebration of Jewish learning in perhaps more than two thousand years was held in of all places… a football field.
Of course, not just in any ordinary sports arena, but in a marvel of a complex built with the incredible ingenuity and sophistication of our modern age.
Completed in 2010, and at a construction cost of 1.6 billion, MetLife Stadium is the most expensive and largest stadium ever built in the history of American football. 116-foot-wide high definition video screens, thousands of plasma sets positioned throughout, and the highest quality sound system are but some examples of the impressive technology utilized in the stadium.
We must ask however, if there is some irony in rejoicing over our ancient spiritual treasure, the handbook of how to live upright lives humbly with G-d, in an arena that so loudly boasts of its own grandiosity.
As every schoolchild learns, Har Sinai was chosen just for its modest size. Yet, here we find ourselves at Kabalas HaTorah 2012 embracing the very biggest and best, with all its clamoring bells and whistles, that America has to offer! How do we make sense of this?
Interestingly, the situation could have been worse.
For we find a curious and odd back-story behind the naming rights to the new stadium before it settled on “MetLife” just last summer in August 2011.
To quote from its entry on Wikipedia:
Allianz, a financial services company based in Germany, expressed interest in purchasing naming rights to the stadium. The proposal was for a period of up to 30 years, and was estimated to be valued at somewhere between $20 million and $30 million USD. However, it sparked protests from New York’s Jewish community and the Anti-Defamation League, which opposed the move due to close ties in the past between Allianz and the government of Nazi Germany during World War II. No agreement was reached and talks between Allianz and the teams ended on September 12, 2008.
If this were successful, could anyone have thought to host the Siyum HaShas in a stadium carrying the name of a company closely associated with Nazi Germany?
As if things couldn’t get any more disturbing:
On June 10, 2010, it was reported that an internet dating site marketed primarily to married people seeking adulterous affairs made a 25 million dollar offer to name the stadium after its own website.
A stadium named after an internet site proudly facilitating one of the three cardinal sins! Can you imagine the utter contradiction in having the Siyum Hashas hosted there?
On June 27, 2011, it was reported that insurance company MetLife entered discussions to purchase naming rights to the stadium. The new name, “MetLife Stadium,” became official when all parties signed a 25-year deal on August 23.
So yes, the stadium is big and bombastic. But at least it’s not named after Nazi sympathizers or brazen adulterers. This just to catch a glimpse into the behind the scenes guiding hand of Heaven and what possibly could have been.
Read more “MetLife” Stadium- K’shmo Kein Hu