CBS Sports Commentator Clark Kellogg channeled Hebrew school in an upset alert during coverage of the NCAA tournament.
“There’s a word that I came across about a month ago,” Kellogg said live on air. “‘Tohu va-vohu,’ it means chaos and this is the chaos of the most joyful and disappointing variety that we can encounter. There’s nothing like March Madness.”
Found in the creation story, ‘tohu va-vohu’ is used to describe the condition of the earth before the creation of light.
וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃
“The earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water,” Genesis (Bereishis) 1:2.
There are many interpretations and translations of the phrase, but generally it is seen as ‘chaotic nothingness.’ Rashi’s commentary states: “The word תהו signifies astonishment and amazement, for a person would have been astonished and amazed at its emptiness.”
Considering the season many college basketball teams are having this year (with heavy weights Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Kansas and many others losing or not even in the tournament), the phrase holds up in our book.