Rabbi Snir Gueta, once a promising player in Israel’s national Under-21 team, is now a rabbi who teaches prominent soccer players the Torah. The 31-year-old former midfielder discusses his personal journey and explains why playing on weekdays, instead of Shabbat, will increase the number of soccer stars in Israel.
He grew up in the Maccabi Haifa’s youth department, played in the Israeli Premier League for Maccabi Netanya, and starred in Israel’s national Under-21 team. Today, Rabbi Snir Gueta is considered one of the most recognized rabbis among Israel’s younger generation.
Seven years ago, the promising midfielder decided to retire from soccer. Driven by his religious beliefs, he chose to forgo the sport he loved in order to uphold further the halachot of Shabbat. Today, he is a married father of three. He receives such a large volume of inquiries that he has an assistant to help respond to the people seeking his advice. Committed to helping others learn the Bible as he has, he dedicates his time to give lessons every evening, throughout the country.
The rabbi’s lessons are mostly about virtues, courtesy, faith and what it means to be God-fearing. The audience in his lectures is very diverse: Yeshiva students, Orthodox Jews, sitting amongst well-known and secular soccer players of Israel’s Premier League is a common sight. “Struggling with the modern balance of today’s personal and professional lives, these motivational speeches help us to gain clarity,” said Rabbi Gueta.
When explaining his decision to quit soccer, the Rabbi Gueta said, “It was a very long process. Through lessons of various righteous rabbis, I realized that I was not on the right track as a Jew. I found myself at a crossroads. One choice was to wait until I’m 35, finish my career then begin my path to becoming the rabbi I knew I could be. The other option was to follow my heart and do what I felt God wants for me, beginning immediately...In the last year of my career, I had plenty of offers from soccer clubs, but I made the decision to retire. I salute my wife—without her, it would have been more difficult to make the decision; She would have been willing to go anywhere with me.”
“Giving up a soccer player’s salary and retiring was not an easy thing to do, especially for those who were in the position I was in, at the time.” When discussing what he feels when thinking of the life he left behind, Rabbi Gueta quickly answered “I’m not missing anything. It must have been the right decision for me. When football games are scheduled on a Saturday, it automatically keeps a large religious fanbase away from the sport. Who knows, maybe a few more soccer stars are hiding in the religious sector, and it’s not worth losing them,” added Rabbi Gueta.