It has been a while since I held a football, so the game I recently played was an interesting experience. Based on my schoolyard experience with the game, I arrived at the park with gung ho delusions of grandeur, expecting to easily score a few touchdowns. It didn't take long for the reality to set in: I was actually awful at the real game.

I found it hard to grip the ball; my hands not being attuned to the oblong shape of the football. My arms were not ready for the throws and my body was not ready for the bruising tackles. This football game was very different than the amateur two-hand-touch football I remember playing in elementary school. This was the real thing.

After a very short stint on the field, I found myself nursing my bruises on the sidelines. I'm still uncertain whether it was me who decided to leave the game, or my teammates simply had enough of my fumbling and grouching. Maybe I'd rather not know the answer to that question...

Inspirations are kickoffs. A lackluster kick will likely result in poor field positionSitting on the sidelines afforded me the time to do a little thinking. We are meant to learn a lesson from all we experience or see. The first lesson this football game taught me was amply clear: I'd better keep to non-contact sports for a while. But are there any lessons which I can incorporate into my daily life? Here are some of the thoughts that ran through my mind as I watched my team clobber their opponents. Like the game itself, these lessons may not be easy to implement, but sitting where I was, I realized that playing the game is always more enjoyable and satisfying than sitting on the sidelines.


The defense strategically kicks off the ball, with the intention of getting the ball as far down the field as possible. Much depends on the success of this kick. A lackluster kick will likely result in poor field position, making the task of containing the opponent much more difficult.

From time to time we are all inspired to do good deeds. The neighbor isn't feeling well, and we are inspired to provide a hot supper and some Jewish penicillin (a.k.a. chicken soup), or to offer to take them to the doctor. Birthdays are notorious for circumspection and inspiration: maybe we should give more charity, study some more Torah every day, or get to the synagogue a little earlier, which would allow us to properly meditate on the prayers.

These inspirations are kickoffs. The stronger the resolution and commitment to implement these inspirations, the farther the ball will go, and the better we'll be equipped to face the challenges which will invariably arise in the quest to put the plans into action. A weak kickoff could result in a "loose ball" and decidedly disadvantageous field position.


Switching gears to an offensive frame of mind, the kick receiver catches the ball and immediately advances it up the field. If he were to hesitate before running the ball, he'd find himself lying flat on the ground in no time at all — considering himself lucky if he's managed to retain control of the ball.

Taking the kickoff inspirations and implementing them should be done hastily. As our sages say in Ethics of our Fathers: "If not now, when?" If we stand in the field and wait, we will likely lose the inspiration. We need to take the ball and run with it until the mission has been accomplished; until we reach the "end zone."


Football isn't a one man sport. The secret to advancing the ball is passing or throwing it to the open teammate.

Following through with our inspirations and commitments is often difficult. We face various pressures and formidable "opponents." Lack of time, children, and work are just some of the obstacles we encounter. At times, a partner is needed in order to implement an inspiration and reach the end zone. Partnering with another makes a dream much more tangible and provides a vital supporting environment.

Planning & Execution

The coach doesn't actually play the game, but no one underestimates the part he plays in determining the outcome of the game. The coach uses his wisdom and experience to smooth out the bumps and focus and maximize the unique talents of every member of the team.

In order for any inspiration to work it needs to be well planned, thought out and grounded. A designated mentor or Rabbi with whom to discuss one's inspirations is vital to ensuring their practical execution. While we struggle with the necessary mini-steps — a few yards here, another few yards there — in order to advance the ball, the coach never loses sight of the end zone. Take the time to plan out the next move with your coach.


You've scored a touchdown. Great. It's kickoff time again.You've done it. You've scored a touchdown. Great — but one problem remains: the opposing team hasn't given up yet... Now's not the time to relax and celebrate; it's time to plan the next touchdown. It's kickoff time again.

Do I need to spell out the lesson?


After a bone-crushing thirty minutes, it's time for a break before the action resumes. While the game is being played on the field is not the appropriate time to weigh what one has done and what one had not done. Halftime offers the opportunity to watch the replays, thoroughly analyze the first half, and see whether adjustments are in order for the second half.

The "game of life" is no different. At times we must pause and analyze what we have accomplished so far and what needs to be done in the future. Maybe an honest analysis of the first half will reveal that an entirely new game plan is required — in consultation with your coach, of course.

During the regular hours of the day we implement our inspirations. There's no time to weigh failures and where on the field we are currently holding. Instead, there are appropriate times, "halftimes," to pause and think about the success of our personal game plan. On a daily basis, this halftime is scheduled for the moments before we retire for the night. We consider where we are holding, what we have achieved in the past day and what we can do better tomorrow. We resolve to do better tomorrow and go to sleep with that thought. Yom Kippur is the grand "Super Bowl halftime," the one time of the year when we make an accounting of all the past year's kickoffs, touchdowns and turnovers.

Real fans enjoy the game. Then there are all those who watch the game for the halftime show. Yom Kippur is a nice show, but I think I know what the game's all about!