Religion & Beliefs

Is Ryan Lochte a Talmudic Sage?

According to one Jewish swimming enthusiast, the answer is ‘jeah’ Read More

By / April 23, 2013

Move over, Aly Raisman—the gold medalist turned Dancing with the Stars contestant is no longer the Jewish community’s Olympic Golden Girl. Who has dethroned the Hava Nagila-playing gymnast? None other than Ryan Lochte, the grill-wearing, nonsense-spouting swimmer.


At least that’s what Malina Saval, a mother and lifelong swimming enthusiast, argues in a Tablet essay:

And yet, I’m here to argue that it’s time we stop making fun of Lochte, at least long enough to focus on a career achievement that has thus far gone completely unnoticed in the Jewish community. Lochte, who isn’t Jewish but believes God has a “plain” for everyone, may not be a rabbinical scholar, but what he has done—and to a much larger degree than most swimmers in the history of the sport—is spread Talmudic wisdom to swim fans, Jewish and non-Jewish, all over the world.

According to Saval, “The Talmud (Kiddushin 29a) specifies three skills that parents must teach their children: Torah, how to make a living, and how to swim.” By her logic, since Lochte has made swimming cool—not just to watch on TV once every four years but to actually do—and has toured the country encouraged kids to get in the pool, he’s done a Talmudic-level service for Jewish parents.

Read the full essay here and let us know what you think in the comments.


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