Jews & Sports

from Big Mo's Sports Desk

Soccer in the Talmud


We can learn a lesson from football, or "soccer" as they call it in USA.

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Avodah Zorah 3:1) tells us that an eagle carried Alexander the Great into the heavens. From there, the world looked to him like a ball. Similarly, the Zohar (3:10) comments "the entire world revolves in a circle like a ball."

In soccer, the intent of the game is to propel the ball through a gate. Hence, the ball, that is, the world, has been given to every Jew with a similar intent. The Mishnah comments: "Each individual is obligated to say 'For my sake the world was created.' "The world is given to each individual with the purpose that he bring it through the "gates of the king," despite the many obstacles and difficulties that must be overcome.

In soccer, the opposing team tries to prevent the scoring of a goal by the players. At the same time, they try to put the ball through the opposing players' goal, "the opening of Gehinom." So it is in our lives: the obstacles and challenges we encounter must arouse in us the attribute of victory, a quality that activates the essence of the soul.

In soccer, the presence of the opposing team causes a player to run and to jump - not to be content with slow, step by step, progression. Also, the game is won through the efforts of the feet, symbolic of deed and action, rather than the head. Certainly, the game must be played with thought. Nevertheless, the most important aspect is deed and action. Similarly, in our service there are parallels to these concepts.

The remarks are not intended to take a person away from his studies and cause him to go out and play ball. However, since there are children who, as of yet, do not fully appreciate the preciousness of Torah and want to play ball, they should be able to do so "for the sake of Heaven." By "educating a child according to his way," that is, taking something like soccer, which he enjoys, and showing him how it can be done "for the sake of Heaven," we ensure that "even when he grows older he will not depart from it."
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

From "Hasidim in Israel" by Tzvi Rabinowicz ( Aronson)


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