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Lessons from cricket

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It took much convincing from my kids, but finally I relented and accompanied them to a cricket game. Admittedly, I don’t have much personal interest in sport, but the time spent with my boys was rich! Yet, amateur spectator I may be, but there were some ideas that seemed relevant to our lives today.

Entering the stadium, there was a palpable excitement, a certain vibe that was felt among the spectators as much as the players. As we just began the double joyous months of Adar, I couldn’t help but feel the cheer inspired at this time of year. Genuine happiness stems from understanding one’s purpose and meaning in life, not just from fleeting moments of jollity. When we’re filled with purpose, meaning, and connection, true joy overflows, giving us the strength to face any challenge. Without a clear sense of purpose and direction, we become vulnerable to negative influences. To succeed in life’s battles, we must embrace joy, which comes from our connection to our higher purpose.

As the game dragged on, I engaged in some people-watching. I noticed three types of spectators. First were the ones that seemed like myself: enjoying it overall, but not particularly attached to the game. Many on their phones, or engaged in conversation, hardly noticing the goings-on on the field below. Next were fans who were watching the game attentively. These can recognise the players and follow the plays as they come about. Not desperately invested, they simply relish in the experience of watching the game. Finally, were the die-hard super fans, passionate about the game, expressing their emotions and noticeably invested in the team’s performance. These are the zealous, devoted fans who know each player by name, and can rattle off his statistics and history.

It got me thinking about ourselves – what type of fan are we in our Judaism? What’s our relationship with our Yiddishkeit? Do we take a “laid-back” approach, or do we strive for a truly passionate “super-fan” one? Our bond and connection with Hashem should be akin to being a super fan – enthusiastic and all-encompassing!

Consider our brave Israel Defense Forces soldiers entering the dangers of Gaza. Before they deploy, they receive a pep talk from their commander. He encourages them with timeless words from our Tanach, words that have accompanied and motivated our warriors since the beginning of our nation. They speak of the soldiers not entering alone, but that Hashem Himself is accompanying them. The commander blesses them that Hashem lay down their enemies before them. And then he instructs them each to put a hand on their fellow’s head and bless one another. Thus inspired, they go forth on their mission.

In the current Torah portion, we describe the building of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that accompanied our ancestors in the wilderness. There are so many rigid laws about the precise details of how to do it. More commandments, more rules? It may seem overwhelming.

Let’s focus on studying the intricacies of our own heritage and the significance of the mitzvahs. Of finding happiness. Of motivating one another with the inspiration that comes from Hashem Himself. We’re in the big league now, let’s do our part. And let’s pray for victory and everlasting peace.

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