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A Lesson on Judaism that Can be Learned From Soccer!

Published on Wednesday December 16th, 2020

One of the boys who regularly participated in Rav Shalom Schwadron evening class suddenly stopped coming. One day, two days, then three. Rav Shalom was determined to find the young man and bring him back to Torah study.

Rav Shalom therefore went to the young man's parents' house and knocked on the door. The young man himself opened the door. At first, he was frightened. But then a fascinating discussion between them took place; a discussion that Rav Shalom told as if he were the young man himself, every time he remembered it, to everyone near him.

-Rav Shalom: ''Hello to you my dear. We missed you these past few days. We were worried that perhaps you were not well G-d forbid, or that something happened to you…''

-Young man: ''No, Kavod Harav, thank G-d I am well. I enjoy learning Gemara, it is a real pleasure for me, but this week I cannot attend. Next week, I will come back to attend your class as usual. I apologize to the Rav that I disturbed him and that he came to see what happened to me.''

-Rav Shalom: ''And why can't you attend this week, is someone in your family not well?''

-Young man: '' No, thank G-d, I have another reason why I can't come to your shiur. But as I already told the Rav, I promise you that I will attend the class diligently as soon as the temporary factor disappears."

-Rav Shalom did not give up: ''Interesting. I am very curious to know what impediment can disturb a young man like you from participating in the class which takes place at a fixed time and is relatively early. "

- The young man tried to evade the question: "It's hard to say, I'm embarrassed ..."

- Rav Shalom then spoke from his heart: "Why be embarrassed, especially, of me. Tell me everything my child, and I promise to help you ... "

- The young man: "No, I can't ... It is not for the stature of the Rav. Next week, I will rejoin the benches of the Beit Hamidrash. There is no reason for the Rav to worry ..."

- Rav Shalom: "I am not worried. I am simply curious. Tell me quickly, if it's not something particularly personal, why this week, no, and next week, yes? What can be the reason? "

Finally, seeing that he could not get away with it any longer, the young man answered Rav Shalom's questions, and began: "I will tell the Rav the truth. This week the most important soccer matches of the year are held. Not Shabbat on of course, but the games are during the hours when the class takes place. And unfortunately, I cannot, I really cannot give it up. I'm addicted to soccer ... "
Rav Shalom listened to the young man's words and was silent for a long time. After that, he lifted up his eyes full of love of Heaven and man, and said, "My dear son, I have heard, and I have understood. But the secret of the happiness that you find in this ball game interests me ... I do not know enough about this game, and I would like to know how it works because maybe I am missing something...''

The discussion then took a friendly turn.
Rav Shalom sat down next to the young man who began to tell him, with great excitement and pleasure, how the game works: "If the Rav really wants, I will explain it to him," he said. "In the game, there are two teams, and if you want to know in a few words how to win, I would say that whoever scores a goal by bringing the ball into the goal wins. The moment the ball enters the goal is the pivotal moment. The young man finished speaking, the excitement visible on his face. He never thought he would sit one day next to the Rav and talk to him about football.
Rav Shalom shook his head as if he did not understand, and asked, "What is it intelligent about getting a ball into a goal? Come with me and I'll show you how I get twenty balls into a goal, one after the other ... "
The young man smiled and replied, "I forgot to tell the Rav the most important thing. Near the goal stands a guardian, in professional terms, we call it a goalkeeper, and he tries to prevent the ball from entering the goal... "
"And how do you beat him? asked Rav Shalom.

"That is where all the skill and wisdom of the gamed lies.'' replied the young man, "That is the great satisfaction of the game."

"I want to understand," said Rav Shalom. "This guardian doesn’t go to sleep? He stays put 24 hours a day, eating and sleeping there? "

"Not at all!'' The young man burst out laughing ... "Of course, he goes to sleep. He's only there during the time of the match. After that, he goes back to his life."
"If that's the case," concluded Rav Shalom ... "What's the problem? We will go at night, when he is not there, and we will score a goal without problem ... "

The young man, still thinking that Rav Shalom did not understand the secrets of the game, continued to explain, while raising his voice: "That's exactly it. It is precisely because the goalkeeper is not there and that there is no difficulty in kicking the ball into the goal that is not smart if one sends it into the goal. The skill and wisdom in this game is demonstrated in the hard times when the goalkeeper stands and watches. There are also other players who help to ward off the goalkeeper. In fact, each team prevents the other from getting the ball into his goal. "

At that point, Rav Shalom got up, looked at the young man, and said loudly;
"Let your ears hear what your mouth says. Will coming to class next week take effort on your part? You want to learn Torah, and next week you will have no impediment to come and learn. The wisdom of studying at this time is not particularly great. But at a time when there is an obstacle in front of the doors of the Beit Hamidrash that prevents you from entering, it is at that moment that you have to know how to score a goal. Please, don’t break the rules of the game, and pass the doors of Beit Hamidrash at this difficult time, so you'll be the winner of the match ... "

Rav Shalom extended his hand warmly, and the next day, when the young man gave up the football game and appeared in class, he stood in front of him in satisfaction.

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