Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday's Musings on Sports - Rooting for or against and R' Zera

Although this post is generally devoted to sports with a link to Torah, I heard a vort in a R' Mansour shiur on Parshas Shemos (downloaded from which actually made me think back to sports from Torah.

The gemara in Megilla 28a contains numerous discussions between illustrious Rabbis and their students, wherein the students asked - why did you merit to have a long life. Each Rabbi responded to the questioner about his own particular middah or middos (attributes) which he felt was the reason that he was zoche to long life.

In answering the question that was posed to him, R' Zera responded that he was zoche to long life, in part due to his not rejoicing at the downfall of his friends.

This concept was foreign to the Rabbi who was giving the shiur. He posited - how can anyone be happy when something bad happens to someone else? He answered that what it must mean is that the person was genuinely happy for others and felt bad when something bad happened to the other person. This is the sign of a "gadol" - one who feels a sense of community responsibility and does not think solely about himself and his needs.

While R' Mansour could not conceptualize being happy when another fails, a sports fan finds this fairly routine. As a Jets fan, I could never root for the Patriots and actively hope they will fail when playing. Although the Mets have been non-competitive for the last two years, I still find myself happy when the Phillies fail. And don't get me started about the NY Islanders, even though they have not had a decent season since before my 13 yr old was born...

Back to the vort, -- R' Mansour tied the vort into the phrase said at the bris that the small child will grow to be a gadol. It is fairly obvious that the child will grow to be big, so why is there a need to say it? He answered that the baby is the ultimate "taker" or selfish being. When a baby wants to eat, it wants to eat. If the baby wants to be picked up - it must be done NOW! A baby does not care that the parent does not feel well, or just got home from work or was up all night. But when the baby grows to be a gadol it becomes aware of the needs of others and abandons its selfish activities.

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