With the football season coming to a close, it’s a great time to apply the wise Jewish teaching that everything one encounters can teach us a lesson in how to serve G-d. Here are four lessons I learned:
Every Player is Crucial
The star quarterbacks, wide receivers and halfbacks get the lion’s share of the attention, while the offensive linemen are hardly noticed. But if it weren’t for their tasks of blocking for those stars, the most well-designed play would fall apart before it had a chance to develop.
We’re celebrating a year of Hakhel—Gathering—which is a once-every-seven-years biblical tradition focused on unity. It reminds us that while some of us may get more attention than others, each and every one of us is a crucial part of the team.
Don’t be Embarrassed of Who You Are
Football fans can be some of the loudest and proudest in sports. The most passionate among them don’t suffice to go to home games—they follow their team on the road, proudly sticking out amid the sea of the other team’s home jerseys.
As one of very few rabbis in the area, when I walk the streets in my black fedora and jacket, I know how those fans feel. And just as they’re confident in their fandom, I’m confident in my Jewish pride. If you know you’re doing the right thing for you, be proud of it, even if others don’t look the same.
Invest in a Good Plan B
While 11 players from each team are on the field at a time, the team’s roster has 53 players. There are backups—sometimes more than one—for every position. When a player is injured, ineffective, or simply needs to catch their breath, the second-string player steps in. On the one hand, seeing the backup player on the field may not seem ideal—after all, if he was that good, he’d be a starter—but teams with quality depth can take the knocks and wear of the season in stride and still put a quality product on the field.
In our own lives, we often have ideals that we strive for—but don’t reach. We wish we were perfect, but we often aren’t. We make mistakes. But G-d gave us a plan B. It’s called teshuva—return. Yes, we may have done something that was less than ideal, but we can’t give up. Instead, we bring in the backup plan, and strive to return to the way our lives should be lived.
There’s No Such Thing as Mr. Irrelevant
The Bay Area was glued to the seemingly-impossible and meteoric rise of Brock Purdy. From his lowly role as Mr. Irrelevant—the very last pick in the draft—Purdy won all five of his starts and two playoff games.
We may sometimes feel that we are irrelevant—that the place we have in the world is of no consequence. Not so, taught the Rebbe. The very fact that you were born means that the world could not be complete without you; you have a mission to fulfill, and a purpose that only you can accomplish.
Rabbi Mendel Liberow is the director of Chabad South County Jewish Center in Morgan Hill, which offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For information, visit JewishMH.com. Please be in touch with any comments, questions or feedback at [email protected].