soccer goalie

When discussing the building of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle), Moshe Rabbeinu’s instructions seem out of order. Moshe first told Betzalel about constructing the utensils and only then the construction of the Mishkan. The common procedure as we know it is to first build the home and then build the furniture. The Rashbam explains that Moshe understood this as well, but still instructed him in this order, as the goal of the Mishkan is for the utensils used in the services and one must never lose focus of the goal! Once the goal is established, one can worry about the technicalities. Exercise companies advertise “No Pain No Gain”. Once one has the goal in place, he is well equipped to endure the pain and have the determination to deal with all obstacles that come his way.

Reb Sholom Shwadron, the renowned Jerusalem Maggid – spiritual educator on ethics and values – related an invaluable lesson and a fascinating story that occurred to him when he was a young educator. Reb Sholom noticed that one of his students had been missing several days of school. Reb Sholom decided to pay the boy a visit to inquire on his well-being. The boy was shocked when Reb Sholom arrived at his home. Noticing the boy looked healthy and was in good spirits, Reb Sholom asked him, “I know you for two years. You’ve never missed a day of yeshiva. I’m sure that something important is happening. Please tell me what’s going on.” The boy did not want to say, but after some prodding, the boy finally blurted out. “I would tell, but, Rebbe, you just wouldn’t understand.” “Try me,” begged Reb Sholom, “I promise I will try my hardest to appreciate what you tell me.” “Ok” said the boy, conceding to himself that whatever explanation he would give would surely be incomprehensible to the Rabbi, who was from a previous generation and was fully immersed in Torah study and to be assumed not familiar with the challenges and temptations younger students face. The boy started his explanation “I missed yeshiva because I was watching the Maccabi Tel Aviv Soccer finals. The boy said yes, he’s usually in yeshiva to do his work, but he’ll be right back to yeshiva as soon as the finals are won.

Reb Sholom was not at all condescending. Instead, he stroked his beard in interest. “I am sure that this game of soccer must be quite exciting. Tell me,” he asked, “How do you play? What is the object – How do you win?” “Well,” began the student filled with enthusiasm, “there are eleven players, and the object is to kick a ball into the large goal.”Reb Sholom’s face lit up! “Oh! Is that all? So you just go there and kick the ball into the goal – that does not seem too hard – how narrow is the goal?” The boy laughed. “Rebbe, you don’t understand! There is an opposing team that also has eleven men and a goalkeeper, and their job is to stop the other team from getting the ball into their goal!” “Tell me,” Rabbi Sholom whispered. These other men on the other team, are they there all day and night?” “Of course not!” laughed the student. “They go home at night!” Reb Sholom huddled close and in all earnest continued with his brilliant plan. “Why don’t they sneak into the stadium in the evening and kick the ball into the goal when they are not looking!” The boy threw his hands up in frustration.”Oy! Rebbe! You don’t understand. You can’t score if the other team is not trying to stop you! It is no challenge to kick a ball into an empty net if there is no one trying to stop you!”

Reb Sholom knowingly smiled and said “It’s no challenge to come to yeshiva if there is no one trying to stop you!” As we said earlier, “No pain, no gain.” In our own lives when things are easy we do get credit for what we do accomplish but it’s what we accomplish when times get tough which is what shapes us.

Have a great Shabbos!

Elli Bohm

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