Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday's Musings on Sports - Is Osama Feeling The Draft?

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 (he has recently resurfaced on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles), I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

This past weekend was the NFL draft. In the post which follows the draft, I traditionally write about a story or two which comes out of the draft and is inspiring to me. This year there were two stories which appealed to me involving: (1) Tejay Johnson - an All American safety who could have gone in the fourth or fifth round of the draft, but instead decided that he wanted to work with the deaf (to see a great piece on Johnson click here and (2) KJ Wright - a Mississippi player who was drafted by the Seattle Seahwaks while he was in the middle of his graduation (to see an article about Wright click here -

Although these stories would normally be post-worthy, the NFL draft stories paled in comparison with the news about Osama Bin Laden. Following the President's announcement about Osama, people across the country had very strong reactions to the news. People went to ground zero or Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate the demise of the hated architect of 9-11. Those in attendance at the Sunday Night Game of the Week between the NY Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies broke out in a spontaneous U-S-A chant which prompted Mets third baseman David Wright to comment "I don’t like to give Philadelphia fans too much credit. But they got this one right."

Besides those who celebrated the news, there were others who were more subdued. Numerous articles and radio sound bytes contained statements from people that they were happy about Osama but this would not bring their loved ones back. These stories made me think of R' Zev Cohen's yizkor derasha on the 8th day of Pesach.

Speaking less than two days after the death of his mother, R' Cohen asked from the pulpit - is Yizkor a time to mourn the dead? R' Cohen posited that yizkor cannot be a time to be sad about the loss of a relative as there is a commandment to be happy on yom tov. While the yizkor on Yom Kippur could be construed as a proper time to be sad about the loss of a loved one (since both the living and the dead are judged on Yom Kippur) it would be antithetical to be sad about the loss of a loved one on a day when we are commanded to be happy.

Of course this begs the question - they why do we have yizkor on Pesach, Shavuous and Shemini Atzeres?

R' Cohen addressed this issue by telling the following story. In the 1920's a wealthy Jew was being driven in his chauffeured car when he saw two Jewish children playing in the street. When the man came closer to the boys, he saw that they were covered with coal dust. He motioned the boys over to his limo and asked them why they were dirty. The boys told him that they lived in the coal room of their apartment building. The man asked the boys to take him to their home and they obliged.

Upon arriving at the apartment, the man asked the boys' mother why they were living there. The woman explained that her husband had lost his job a number of months before and was having a difficult time finding a job as he would not work on shabbos. The man was touched and wrote the woman a check for $5,000.

When the husband came home, his wife told him the story and showed him the check. The man said to his wife - we cannot take this money - Mr. Bookman keeps his factory open on shabbos. The man asked - how can we benefit from money made on shabbos, if I will not work on shabbos?

The following day, the man went to see Mr. Bookman. He thanked Mr. Bookman for his generous gift, but explained that he could not take the money as it was earned on shabbos.

When the man had left, Mr. Bookman said to his wife - do you recall the first shabbos that we decided to keep the factory open? Business was poor and we thought - if we could only stay open one shabbos, maybe we could break even. Mr. Bookman reminded his wife that over the following fifteen years they never closed the factory on shabbos. Mr. Bookman then said to his wife - we will close for shabbos this week. That Friday, he went to the factory and sent all the workers home and told them not to come back until the following Monday.

The following week, Mr. Bookman went to the man and told him - I am closed on shabbos - take my money as it is not earned on shabbos.

Forty years later when the man died, his coffin was carried by Mr. Bookman's grandchildren who were all shomer shabbos.

R' Cohen explained that every person who passed on and was being remembered at yizkor had done something which touched the life of the mourner. Whether or not the deceased lived a perfect life, he must have done something which had a positive impact on the mourner. Yizkor is the time to remember the positive things done by those who have passed on and how they have impacted our lives.

If I were to speak to those who mourned on Sunday, I would tell them the same message. Yes, the evil acts of Osama and Al-Qaida have deprived you of your loved one. Now that justice has been served, remember the positives of the one who was taken from you and how he has touched your life.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

No comments: