Enter your email address to get our weekly email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life.
Views on the News

On Quarterbacks, Linemen and Being a Part of the Team

A Lesson on Unity

October 19, 2008

Football season is back and all across the fruited plain the sounds of cracking helmets are heard. Down, and off they go.

A quick glance at the field suggests a seemingly criminal inequity. There are the quarterback and the running back, who get all the glory, the big contracts and sneaker deals, and then there are the offensive linemen. They bask in anonymity; they can be penalized for catching a pass and are fortunate if they can walk without pain after their short careers.

Who grows up wanting to be an offensive tackle? Why do they endure so much blunt force visited upon their bodies just to allow the guy with the clean uniform to prance around the end zone?

There is something remarkably informative here (there always is). Offensive linemen don't see it that way. They see themselves as part of a team, and as long as the quarterback and running back do their job, they are tickled pink (though they probably wouldn't use that particular expression) to let them scoot into the end zone while they tangle with a 350 lb. defensive player. They are part of a cause, a mission, where every one plays their part—not the same part. Unity is not conformity, it is each person doing what they do and the reward is everyone's.

This year is a Hakhel Year, when we assemble and celebrate Jewish unity. Hakhel brings together the diverse—the graceful with the powerful, the scholar with the cantor, each has something that only they can offer, even the infants.

So next time you feel cheated because someone else was on the Jumbotron, or if you think you don't matter and no one cares if you show up or not—remember that it is only "with the abundance of crowd that the King is honored."

The Presidential Debates: Who's Right?

October 7, 2008

I've just finished listening to last night's presidential debate, the second of this presidential campaign. The candidates debated many important issues, covering both domestic and foreign policy—focusing obviously on the current financial crisis. Both these candidates command the respect of millions of Americans because they each espouse an ideology which has many merits (see Left or Right). Both Liberalism and Conservatism are legitimate philosophies, each containing strong points and weak points. It will be up to the American citizens to decide which ideology is best suited for the United States of 2008.

What strikes me most about these debates is the flurry of polls that follows them. Those polled were asked which candidate expressed himself more clearly, is more fit to lead, showed he cares about the needs of people like you, had a good understanding of the issues, showed he shares your values, was more likable, etc.

I have yet to see the poll which asked the simple question: which candidate is correct on the issues. Isn't a "debate" about establishing who's right and who's wrong? Isn't a debate about individuals attempting to convert people to their philosophy and ideology by demonstrating their logical superiority over the opponents'? Why does no one seem to care whether Obama or McCain is right about taxes, healthcare, Iraq, etc.?

I think this demonstrates a very important idea. For the most part, people are not persuaded by intellectual arguments, rather they are convinced by strength of character, good example, and the perception that they are caring and moral. People would rather have a caring president who may not be so brilliant and skilled at debating than an aloof, out-of-touch president who is technically correct on the issues. This is actually a testament to the public's intrinsic integrity.

The same is true in our personal lives. Many of us have family, friends, or business acquaintances whom we would like to introduce to the beauty of Torah and mitzvot. Often people are confident that philosophical debates and discussions proving the Divine origins of Torah or the advantage of leading a Torah-true lifestyle will achieve the desired result—but are sorely disappointed to discover that the case isn't so. In fact, often these debates only antagonize the other person and strengthen their resolve not to be influenced.

Instead, we win votes by demonstrating that we truly care about another. We win people to our cause by example; by being the spiritual person they can only imagine themselves becoming.

What's the latest news? For that information, check your local or national news outlet. In this blog we will discuss the "why?"

Not "why did this event occur?" but "why did I find out about it?" There must be a reason. It must contain a lesson I can use to better myself and my surroundings. Together we will find the lessons...
Related Topics