Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday's Musings on Sports - Romeo & The Yetzer Hara

After this Shabbos was over, I found myself sitting in my study, listening to an interview by Tony Paige on 660 WFAN. I had turned the radio on just to have some background noise, but I found myself riveted to the interview. The host was discussing the death of Jovan Belcher, a Kansas City Chief football player who I learned during the interview had ended his own life in front of his Coach (Romeo Crennel) earlier that day.

The person being interviewed was a high school friend of Belcher and he was talking about how Belcher had been very generous with his time by volunteering to help underprivileged kids in Long Island and Kansas City. The interview was laudatory and ended with a wish that Belcher's life be celebrated for all that he accomplished, rather than how it had ended.

Immediately after the interview ended, the calls began and I learned much more about the story. The callers blasted Paige for ignoring the fact that Belcher had taken the life of his girlfriend, leaving their infant child an orphan. I could not believe that this fact had been omitted by Paige and it significantly changed my view of the story.

The following day, the Chiefs played their regularly scheduled game against the Carolina Panthers. There had been some talk of cancelling the game and some journalists like Michael Silver who openly advocated for the postponement ( ) but the NFL did not see fit to move the game.

On Sunday Night, Sarah & I attended a family event and returned home around 10 PM. I turned on the Sunday Night Football game in time to see the half time shpiel given by Bob Costas. Although I am generally a fan of his commentary, I was taken aback by Costas' take on the Belcher tragedy. In essence, Costas blamed the entire event on the fact that Belcher was able to obtain a gun and he theorized that if Belcher had not had access to a gun, or if handguns were banned, the tragedy would have been averted.
After turning the game off, I said to my wife - does that mean that we should ban steak (G-d forbid) because people might use steak knives to kill? Or maybe cars should be eliminated, because a person could take his target for a ride and then drive off a cliff. I admit that a gun is a very potent weapon, but if Belcher really wanted to kill his girlfriend before taking his own life, he could have done it in hundreds of other ways.
The story made me think about a vort that I heard on a Rabbi Mansour MP3 about the parsha. After Yaakov bests the angel in battle, he asks the angel to tell him his name. Yaakov's request is hard to understand. Why does Yaakov care what the angel's name is. R' Mansour explained that Yaakov knew that he was battling the yetzer hara and that the angel's name was indicative of its nature. If Yaakov could learn the nature of the yetzer hara, he could tell his future generations how to defeat it. However, the yetzer hara responds to Yaakov - why do you care about my name? By so doing, the yetzer hara is telling Yaakov - my name does not matter, because in each generation I will be a different foe. You can try to plan to defeat me, but I will always find a different way to tempt and attack your people.
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