Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - Marty, Aaron & Moshe, or why Sometimes its Thought That Counts

This past weekend saw a number of interesting gestures by teams. I would like to address two of those gestures in this post.
As most of the world is aware, Patriots All-Pro Tight End Aaron Hernandez was arrested last week on charges of Murder in the First Degree. The claims relate to the death of the boyfriend of Hernandez's girlfriend's sister. There has been significant speculation that the murder also may be linked to a previous shooting and that the victim died because he may have had knowledge of that prior shooting.
Immediately after Hernandez was arrested, and numerous hours before the nature of the charges was revealed in Court, the New England Patriots released Hernandez. The act of releasing the player was slightly unusual as he has not been convicted of any crime. Still, the Patriots under Bill Belichick have their own peculiar way of doing things and it was not a complete shock.
The more interesting story involving the Patriots was their gesture to the fans. Over the weekend it was announced that the Patriots would buy back fans' Hernandez jerseys and allow  them to be exchanged for other Patriots jerseys.
The hosts of the morning drive on the NFL Radio channel on Sirius/XM used this as a jumping off point to ask for input as to jerseys people have bought that they wish they could get rid of. There were many prime responses which included major draft busts, "never weres" and players who embarrassed themselves after completing their careers (OJ, Lawrence Taylor, etc...).
A different story with a more uplifting message involved the NHL Draft. At the tail end of the Seventh and final round of the draft, the New Jersey Devils traded their 7th Round pick in the 2015 draft to the Los Angeles Kings for the Kings' 7th Round pick in this year's draft. The pick was one of the last in the 2013 draft and it was used to draft a goalie.
The fact that the Devils used their pick on a goalie was not a surprise. Earlier that day, the Devils traded their 1st Round Pick to the Vancouver Canucks for goalie Cory Schneider. The more significant element of the selection was that the Devils used the pick to draft their current goalie (and future Hall of Famer) Martin Brodeur's son. And they let Marty announce the pick! The video of the selection can be seen here -
Of course my hockey bias makes me believe that the Devils gesture was more sincere than the Patriots, but both acts were done to show appreciation where none would have been required. They also made me think of Moshe and how he showed his appreciation when none would have been required or expected.
In discussing the first three plagues in Egypt, the Torah notes that Aaron and not Moshe raised his stick to hit the water for the plagues of blood and frogs and that similarly, Aaron hit the dust to cause the plague of lice. Why did Aaron do this and not Moshe? The Medrash explains that Moshe showed hakaras hatov - appreciation for the good done for him by the earth (in allowing him to bury the Egyptian that he killed) and the water (in not drowning him when he was in the basket).
As both the water and the ground are inanimate objects, they do not require one to show them appreciation. Still, Moshe felt it necessary to do so, although no one would have criticized him if he had not done so.
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