Thursday, January 29, 2015

Superbowl or Baby?

Dear Henry,
      Usually I try to space out my posts at least a week, to keep my thousands upon thousands of dedicated fans readily awaiting my next post in suspense. I know my readers are constantly checking their twitter feeds, eagerly anticipating my next post, just as my 6th grade Nepalese Pen Pal awaited my letters in Matchu Piccu. However something happened this morning that absolutely blew my mind. The day began innocently enough. I drove my kiddies to school, and then pulled up to my bank to make a transaction. And as I pulled up, I noticed that on the ESPN Radio, Mike and Mike were talking about an interesting scenario regarding the Superbowl. You see, dear Henry, the Seahawks best player is a guy named Richard Sherman. Richard Sherman and his girlfriend happen to be expecting a child, that is due right around the same time as the Superbowl. What that means, dear Henry, is that Richard might have a little dilemma on his hands: Should he play in the Superbowl, or be present at his child's birth? Mike and Mike were discussing this very dilemma with former Denver Bronco Mark Schlereth. As I pulled up to the window, about ready to enter my pin number, my mouth literally dropped at what I heard:

Mike Greenberg: Would you have played?
Mark Schlereth:  I'da played. 
Mike Golic: What would have Lisa said? 
Mark Schlereth: Uh, Lisa? I was there for the other ones... I would play thats what I get paid to do. This is my job and this is biggest game of my life. I got 53 other guys who depend on me, and my wife understands that.... For me its a non decision I would certianly play, I'll spend the rest of my life with the kids. Heres the deal Mike, I know its hard decision..I don't know if its the right decision...

Mike Golic: "Well there is no right or wrong...I do think a high percentage of players would play..." I do believe I would have played, and would play in the Superbowl also, I'm 99.9 percent sure I would play. Herm (Edwards) said he would play, Justin Tuck said he would have played...Tim Brown would have played.... 

      After hearing this, I immediately did the mandatory ear wax check-- maybe I've suffered from a serious ear wax build up over the years and I did not hear correctly. But I soon realized that in fact my ears were cleaner than a new born infant after bath time. Henry, I got to tell you, I was stunned at what I heard. It is only two weeks after my wife gave birth to our little Princess, and I cannot fathom missing the birth. I am a rabbi, and I had the opportunity to visit Poland with 15 students that I adore, on a life changing trip, which was set two weeks before our due date. And yet, the idea never entered my mind, because of the remote possibility that my wife would go into labor early, and I would be several thousand miles away. Mark Schlereth said that he would play, because that is his job, that's what he's paid to do. I am grateful that my employers know that as much as I love and cherish my job, if ever there is a conflict between my job and my family, my family wins out all day, every day. 
      He then said that he would have to play, because, after all 53 of his teammates depend on him. I hear that, as I myself am an enormously accomplished athlete. But Mark, WHAT ABOUT YOUR WIFE? YOU KNOW, THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE?? You know, the lady you will grow old with, and build a family with?  Is it not more important for you to be there for HER?!?! And Mark, its great you'll spend the rest of your life with your kids, but what message are you conveying to them? You're all real important, but not as important as a game in which a bunch of big guys run around and tackle each other? REALLY???
      I was also dismayed over Mike Golic's authoritative claim that, "there is no right or wrong." Mike, I love you man, but I vehemently disagree with you. There is a right or wrong, and the right thing is to miss the game and be there for your partner in the most momentous moment in both of your lives. 
      After last year's 43-8 Great Debacle, (for more check out
I disdain the Seattle Seahawks with a passion, and I would love nothing more than for the New England Patriots to decimate them and quiet down their players and fans once and for all. However, if in fact Richard Sherman misses the Superbowl to be present for his baby's birth, I will become a Seahawks fan, and buy a Richard Sherman jersey for myself and my children. Because like the great Sandy Koufax before him, who missed a World Series game that was played on Yom Kippur, Richard Sherman would yet again be making a very bold, mind blowing declaration: At the end of the day, it is just a game.

Danny Wolfe

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Marshawn Marshawn Marshawn

Dear Henry,
      Yesterday was Media Day in Arizona, a day during the week preceding the Super Bowl in which players are obligated to speak to the Press and answer the questions. One player, named Marshawn Lynch hates speaking to the media more than a little light grey field mouse hates cats. Marshawn has been fined many times for his refusal to speak to the media, so yesterday, he had the great idea to show up for the required time, and just repeat the same line, over, and over, and over again. The line he decided to use was, "I'm just here so I won't get fined." So the interview went something like this: "Marshawn, did you eat your Wheaties this morning?" "I'm just here so I won't get fined."
"What are your thoughts on world hunger? "I'm just here so I won't get fined."  "What are your thoughts on the Patriots illegally deflating footballs." "I'm just here so I won't get fined."
        While quite entertaining and amusing  to watch, I wanted to explore his choice of wording, "I'm just here so I won't get fined." What he really means is, "It is a darn shame I have to be here right now. I would rather be watching reruns of Full House for the fourth time than be here right now. Heck, I would even  rather be watching an UnAmerican sport such as soccer right now. One thing I know, is that I do NOT want to be here now, and the only reason I am is to avoid a financial penalty." 
        While Marshawn has got some serious football skills, I think this attitude is a terrible one. But it is an attitude that I think many of us are guilty of. How many of us go to work every day for no other reason than the fact that we have to, or else we will be fired, and then have no money, and then have to beg for food and sleep on the streets? I used to have to take a commuter train to work every day, and 98 percent of my copassengers looked more miserable than the good folks from Green Bay looked last week after the Great Debacle. How many times have you told a person, innocently inquiring  about your well being, "I'm okay, I guess I am surviving." Surviving is what Robinson Curusoe tried to do on a desert island. We spend most of our lives working. G-d forbid we should do something that we hate, something that we dread waking up for everyday. As a great rabbi says, it's time that we stop surviving, and start living. 

Danny Wolfe

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Joy of Having a Child on Shabbos

Dear Henry,
      As a Sabbath observant Jew, I had very mixed emotions about the prospect of my Better Half going into labor on Shabbos. While usually on Shabbos I do not drive, use electricity, my phone, computer, or any other technologies, when a woman is in labor, she, and her husband are required to violate the Sabbath for her safety, as she is viewed as an individual whose life is endangered. Nevertheless, it felt very unnatural as I picked up the phone to call the taxi, and as the taxi driver turned on gangsta rap, a genre of music I usually like, to calm his nerves as he drove us to the hospital.
      However, there was one unmistakeable, unforgettable upside of my wife giving birth on Shabbos, and that is that after my precious daughter was born, and the danger had subsided, I could no longer use my phone, or violate the Shabbos in any other way. What that means, is that in the first magical moments of my Princess's life, there were absolutely NO distractions whatsoever. My wife and I arrived at the hospital as two people. Suddenly, in the middle of Shabbos, we became three; a phenomenon I pray each and every one of my thousands of readers experiences in their lives. And the three of us had a beautiful Shabbos lunch together. We each took a lovely Shabbos nap. And I was able to hold my daughter, and bask at G-d's kindness and His creation. Unlike in previous years, when I would immediately snap pictures and call loved ones, this time, my Princess had 100% of my focus, and I simply held her in my arms, unknowingly giggling with blissful delight. I was not in a rush to get home to relieve our incredible babysitter who was watching my other three angelic children at home, because I could not get in a car for six hours. My only concern was living in this holy moment of time, experiencing my love for my wife and daughter, savoring every second of it, and cherishing the holy Sabbath.
     This experience taught me that this is what Shabbos should always be. Many of us (especially me) live our lives enslaved to our technology. Instead of cherishing a sunset, we have our phones out, snapping #sunsetSelfies so all of our "friends" on Instagram and Facebook can 'like' it.  Instead of contemplating G-d's wonders as we gaze at the Grand Canyon we are too busy making sure we take enough pictures from enough different angles. Thank G-d we have Shabbos, which requires us to put our technology away, and to live our lives, to engage this sanctified moment of time. It enables us to truly experience our families-- to be present with those we love. Shabbos is a time where we put everything away and we delight in G-d's incredible world. This past Shabbos, I further realized just how miraculous His world is.

Danny Wolfe