Monday, January 20, 2014
Euphoria. Delight. Unadulterated Joy. Pure Happiness. Contentment. These are the only adequate words to describe my mood yesterday. No, I did not have a child. Yes, the Broncos dismantled the New England Patriots.
As I left synagogue after dutifully reciting the afternoon and evening service, and became aware that the score was now 20-3 in favor of the Good Guys, I was astounded at my genuine sense of delight and happiness. Utter joy, that I literally have not felt since holding my youngest in my arms on the night he was born a year and a half ago. Indeed, I was one very, very happy rabbi.
This feeling of genuine simcha (happiness) kind of surprised me. I have not lived in Colorado in over ten years. I am now in my late twenties. I do not own a television-- not wanting to be bothered by the values promoted on it. I traded in my Eminem CDs for 8th Day CDs. I like to wake up early in the morning to immerse myself in the vast Sea of the Talmud. As I matured, I came to realize, at the end of the day, how futile professional sports are. After all, what personal connection do I have to the Broncos? Because I happened to be born in Colorado, the Broncos success can really determine my happiness? Do the players know I exist, care about me, or root for me in my own life? Some might be good guys, while others mights be arrogant, violent, and downright nasty people.
And when I reflected further, I grappled with some of my emotions: How I was delighted when Wes Welker took out Akib Talib from the game; how I was cherishing Bill Belichek's scouring, kvetching, and downright suffering; how I was savoring the Tom Brady pout, with his head buried miserably in his shaky hands; and most satisfying of all--how I vengefully mocked the miserable Boston sports fans who were so nasty in their arrogant comments about the Rockies in the 2007 World Series. I eagerly opened Boston Sports news articles, and websites, rejoicing over their misery.
And yet, I am a peace-loving, revenge-hating rabbi. I don't want people getting injured. I don't want people to be sad. And I don't believe in revenge.
These mixed emotions really troubled me, and I asked my better half why it is that I love the Broncos so much. As always, she told me something incredibly profound:You have spent your whole life investing crazy amounts of time in the Broncos-- you cannot suddenly stop loving them. That love does not just disappear. She is right. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler famously teaches that in hebrew, the root of the word for "love" means "to give." The Torah teaches that the more one invests, and gives to another, the more he comes to love them. And I have invested hours upon hours of my life into this team--I love them.
I will conclude this piece as confused, and bewildered and perplexed as I began this piece: On one hand I have the pure joy of victory under my belt-- and absolute confidence that the Broncos will take care of business in two weeks in New York shutting up Richard Sherman for hopefully a very long time. And yet, on the other hand, I have profound disappointment in my sadistic emotions about my team defeating the other team. I am better than that.
However, one lesson that I can take out of all of this with absolute clarity, is the following logical argument: If I have invested immense amounts of time and effort into loving my local football team- your Denver Broncos, the best offensive team in the history of the National Football League, who I do not even know, who don't know me, who have never tangibly ever given anything to me, then certainly, without a doubt, I ought to invest all the time and effort in the world into loving my fellow man--those I interact with on a daily basis. The Torah teaches us that we are required to love our fellow human being as we love ourselves. This is puzzling--after all, how can the Torah command us to feel an emotion such as love? One answer is that we can in fact choose to love-- by investing, and giving to others. The more you invest, the more you love. Any parent can tell you, the more sleepless nights you have taking care of your children; the more diapers changed, the more you absolutely adore your precious child.
My New Years resolution is to start to love others, the way I love the Broncos-- to learn from the way I invest time into the Broncos, and to apply that to everyone else around me. Maybe then, will I discover the futility of my relationship with the soon to be three time Super Bowl Champs--The Denver Broncos.