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    They told me this
    morning at the Daf that
    Super Bowl Sunday is
    the busiest pizza day
    of the year. And 1.33
    billion chicken wings
    will be consumed! As
    everyone gets ready for
    a gastronomic infusion, I would also like to
    weigh-in with some thoughts. At the outset,
    I would like to make a very un-American
    confession: I really don’t like football. I
    just don’t relish the idea of watching people
    hitting another human being down to the
    ground. However, as I realize that millions of
    people do not share my feelings, but are rather
    glued to this sport, I would like to share some
    thoughts on this very American pastime.
    The Chofetz Chaim, Zt”l, Zy”a, used to
    say that we could learn something vital from
    everything that goes on around us. He would
    say that, from the telegraph, we learn that
    every word counts. From the radio, we are
    taught that something said on one side of the
    world can make an impact even on people
    on the other side of the world. From trains
    we learn that being even one minute late can
    make all the difference in the world. I would
    like to suggest that from the sport of football
    we could also learn many vital fundamentals
    of life.
    One of the basics of the game is that you
    have four tries to get to a first down. Many

    strategies and machinations are employed
    to reach that objective of a first down – and
    a whole new start. This is a very important
    Jewish philosophy for life. The Torah Jew is
    always trying to make a fresh start. In Ashrei,
    which we say three times a day, we conclude
    with the statement, “Va’anachnu n’vareich
    Kah, mei’atah v’ad olam, Hallelu-Kah – And
    we will bless G-d, from now and forever, we
    will praise him.” The word mei’atah, from
    now, is extremely puzzling. After all, this is
    not the first time we are saying Ashrei. Many
    of us have been saying Ashrei three times a
    day, every day, for many decades. Yet, each
    time we say ‘from now!’ The reason we do
    so is that we are emphasizing that each time
    our praise is new, it’s fresh, it’s a new start –
    and, from now on, it will be more meaningful,
    more heartfelt. We say this every time because
    each time we’re going for a first down.
    The smart person is always trying to make
    a new start in his or her Torah studies. He
    doesn’t make the mistake of looking back and
    crying over all of the wasted years. He doesn’t
    sigh about what he could have known by now
    – for this is the road to yiush- hopelessness,
    despair, and giving up. Rather, he looks to
    make a new start. For example, he looks to
    start the Daf Yomi cycle this coming March.
    This is why the Jewish People are always
    compared to the moon – for it constantly
    renews itself. We, too, try not to become stale
    in our marriages but rather attempt to always

    make a fresh start, a new approach to our
    relationship with our life’s mate. Indeed, the
    laws of Taharas HaMishpochah are explained
    in Masechtas Niddah to achieve the ideal that
    a wife should always be to her husband like a
    kallah, a new bride.
    The objective of football is to score a
    touchdown. This too is a very important
    lesson. In life, we need to focus on goals.
    Too many people live aimlessly and routinely
    without defined ambitions and goals. In order
    to succeed in the “game” of life, we need to
    establish a set of goals for ourselves. Such
    goals might include spending a certain amount
    of time per week with each of our children;
    it might embrace giving a certain amount
    of our income to tzedakah; it might include
    ambitions of Torah study such as being
    ma’aver sedra, reviewing the weekly parsha
    each and every week with the goal of finally
    finishing Chumash and Rashi from cover to
    cover; it might be a halachic ambition to get
    an overall knowledge of the Mishnah Berurah
    or the Kitzur Shulchan Orech; it might be the
    aim of finally learning the meaning of all of
    our daily prayers including the Shir shel Yom,
    the Daily Psalm. Our goals might also include
    plans to finally learn Tanach – something
    many of us were unable to ‘tackle’ during our
    yeshiva days. Of course, there are many other
    goals such as giving parents nachas, helping
    one’s spouse fulfill a dream, acquiring a good
    friend, doing something for your community,
    visiting Eretz Yisroel, and many others.
    We will find that when we set goals for
    ourselves, our life will take on a much more
    purposeful and meaningful existence. And
    with the fulfillment of our goals, comes the
    joys and thrills of scoring touchdowns.
    Then, there’s the field goal. Sometimes,
    when a team is at the 4th down and the
    objective of scoring a touchdown in the
    conventional manner is bleak, the coach will
    opt for a second best – to kick – with the
    hope of scoring a field goal. While it’s only
    3 points instead of 6 or 7, it’s far better than
    nothing at all. This too is a very great lesson.
    Sometimes, our goals are too grandiose
    and, when we attempt to do too much, we
    fall on our faces and end up accomplishing
    nothing. This is why so many of our new
    year’s resolutions are left behind in the dust
    – since, when we made our kabolos, our
    commitments, we tried to do too much.
    A classic example of this problem is when
    someone is motivated to pray with more
    kavanah, more concentration. He or she
    attempts to go cold turkey from no kavanah
    at all, all the way to concentrating on every
    single word. This is setting oneself up for
    almost certain failure and disappointment.
    It behooves us to think about the words of
    the Orchos Chaim L’HaRosh who says that
    we should aim to have kavanah in the first
    bracha of Shemone Esrei and the first chapter
    of Krias Shema. Likewise, if we see that we
    can’t find time to be with our children every
    day, let’s at least go for a field goal and
    find ample time for them over the weekend

    instead of giving up entirely. This concept can
    be applied to most areas of life.
    Finally, when the receiver catches the
    football, he runs and employs evasive
    maneuvers with one sole aim – not to get
    tackled. He never turns around and puts up a
    fight. Our Yeitzer Hara, the evil inclination, is
    likewise constantly attempting to tackle and
    derail us from our spiritual mission. The wise
    person learns to employ evasive maneuvers
    in order not to come head-to-head with the
    Yeitzer Hara. Indeed, the Gemora teaches
    us, in Masechtas Avodah Zarah, that if one
    has the choice of two roads to take, and one
    of those paths passes by women while they
    are bathing, if he chooses to take that path
    (figuring that he will turn away when he
    comes to that area) he is considered a rasha.
    Such is the condemnation for one who opts for
    open confrontation with the Yeitzer Hara!
    Therefore, when we are in Shul, we should
    not choose to sit at the table (which is generally
    located in the back) where people are talking.
    Similarly, if we know that a group of people
    is talking Shul politics, neighborhood politics,
    school politics, bungalow politics, or office
    politics, we should head for the hills rather
    than participate in such potentially spiritually
    lethal conversations. Remember, the name
    of the “game” is to avoid being tacked at all
    costs. Exposing our children to unfiltered or
    unsupervised Internet is like standing in the
    middle of the football field and proclaiming,
    “Come! Hit me!” Similarly, hanging around
    with the wrong crowd can be detrimental to
    married life and, of course, to yeshiva boys
    and girls as well.
    May it be the will of Hashem that we can
    follow these “rules” improving our lives, and
    earning the blessings of Hashem for a long
    life, good health, and everything wonderful.