Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday's Musings on Sports - Braylon and the Telshe Yeshiva Boys

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. Although Max resigned from 1050 more than a year ago, I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

Over the last two weeks, the Jets and football fans at large have been "treated" to the best and worst of Braylon Edwards. During the Jets game on Sunday September 19, 2010, the Jets were victimized by Braylon's emotions which could have potentially undone the good that he accomplished. After Braylon caught a ball for a touchdown, he was doing an "in your face" type of activity to a player on the New England Patriots and was flagged for "taunting." Variations on this penalty have been existence for the last fifteen years or so in the NFL, but the bottom line is that a player cannot be engaged in "excessive celebration."

As a result of Braylon's actions, the Jets were forced to kick off from 15 yards behind the usual spot, but they did not suffer any serious damage since the Patriots were unable to capitalize on this gift as they did not score on the possession and the Jets ultimately won the game.

The day after the game, Braylon again caused potential damage to the team, his image and the public at large, based on his simple inability to think before he acted. As was reported in the newspapers, on Monday evening Braylon visited a charity event which was hosted by a teammate. After he left the event, Braylon got drunk and was arrested by a New York City Police Officer after he blew a .16 (double New York's legal limit) on the Breathalyzer.

After Braylon was released from lockup, the Jets decided to "punish" him by benching him for the First Quarter of Sunday's game against the Dolphins. They then allowed him to play the final three quarters and he factored heavily in the outcome as he caught a touchdown as well as a very important third down pass.

While I can't truly fault the Jets (the NFL determines the suspension for criminal activity and they have not done so yet) for their slap on Braylon's wrist, I have to admit to wondering whether there is any line that Braylon can cross which would permanently "undo" the good he does between the lines on the field. When he taunted the other team he could have potentially cost his own team the game. When he drove drunk he could have potentially cost an innocent person his life.

The question reminded me of a story that Rabbi Kelemer told in his Shabbat Shuva Derasha this year. Rabbi Kelemer mentioned that one year when he was in the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, a local reform Rabbi drove onto the campus in order to partake in the Simchas Torah celebration. Although the Rabbi parked in a remote area, some of the boys in the yeshiva saw him and let the air out of his tires.

Rabbi Kelemer said that the following week the Rosh Yeshiva gave a derasha on Shabbos wherein he ripped into the boys for their actions. As told over by Rabbi Kelemer, the Rosh Yeshiva noted that this Rabbi had visited the yeshiva because he felt compelled by something in his neshoma to dance and celebrate upon completion of the Torah. Rather than allow this Rabbi to join in their celebration and possibly influence him l'tov, the boys created a chillul Hashem which "undid" their Yom Kippur and its teshuva.

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