Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Musings on Sports - Second Chances for Vick and the Jews

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. As Max has resigned from 1050 and has not yet resurfaced on the NY area radio waves, I have decided to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Over the last few days the Michael Vick story has begun to percolate. Not long after Tony Dungy intimated that Vick's return was imminent, the news broke that he had been signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. While driving home from camp on Sunday Night, I heard an interview with an Eagles reporter where the question was broached as to the extent of the protest over the Vick signing. The reporter responded that the first day there were protests, but that soon after there were only a handful of people, many of whom just wanted the publicity. He then stated that Vick has been accepted by his teammates and appears to be just a member of the team. As a result, very few Eagles fans were expected to stay away (according to the reporter) since the fans will continue to root for their team.

The interview called to mind an expression I attribute to Michael Kay as well as a concept in Torah thought. When discussing player changes in the era of free agency, Kay often remarks that "you root for the laundry" (i.e. the uniform) "not the player."

In Torah thought we value the concept of being part of the group as this increases the chance of having one's prayers being accepted by Hashem. Leaving aside the obvious negative consequences of being poresh (separating) from the community, the Torah specifically values prayer said in group form (i.e. with a minyan) as we are promised that tefillah b'tzibur will be accepted.

Recently, I heard Rabbi Rosner explaining the value of tefillah b'tzibur to some younger boys. He made reference to the "story" about the college student who was taking an exam being proctored by an outside individual. The proctor instructed that the students were required to finish writing by a certain time and then turn in their papers. When the time arrived, one student continued to write, although he was specifically instructed to stop.

When the student completed writing, he approached the proctor with his test booklet, but was rebuffed by the proctor who said that it was too late. The student then asked "do you know who I am?" The proctor said, "No." The student then asked again, "do you know who I am?" The proctor responded, "I don't know who you are and I don't care who you are."

The student said "great" and then jammed his exam booklet into the middle of the pile of tests.

We have a similar concept -even if we are not individually worthy of having our prayer heard, if we throw our prayer in with a minyan, we are guaranteed that it will be heard by Hashem.

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