The World is a Ball
Large, round object. Move it towards the goal; get it through the
doorway. Outmaneuver those big, burly guys trying to stop you, trying
to take it from you. Be quick. Use your feet.
Sounds familiar? Sounds like my life.
"From everything that one sees or hears about," taught Rabbi
Israel Baal Shem Tov, "one should derive a lesson in the service
of the Creator."
Perhaps the most popular sport on earth today is football, (or "soccer"
as it is called in the United States). [Hundreds of millions of people,
in practically every country and community in the world, are currently
following the World Cup games. Thats a lot of seeing and hearing.
So if were to take a cue from the great Chasidic master, in addition
to the games entertainment and therapeutic utilities, there is some
significant lesson-taking to be gleaned as well. --Simon Jacobson]
As is the case with every phenomenon in G-d's world, this game can serve
as a model and metaphor for our mission in life.
The objective of the game is to move a ball into a "goal" or
"gate." This would be fairly easy to achieve were it not for
the fact that facing the players is an opposing team which will do everything
in its power to prevent them from scoring a "goal." But then
again, if there were no opposing team, the full extent of the players'
skill and power would never be actualized. For such is the nature of the
human being: our most potent potentials are awakened only by challenge
The ball can be maneuvered with various parts of the player's body, but
the game is played primarily with the feet. The game requires much skill,
but no less important is the player's speed--much depends on whether a
player can outrun his opponent and move more quickly than he.
What can all this teach us regarding our daily endeavors and inner lives?
The earth is a sphere--a fact noted nearly two thousand years ago by
the Jerusalem Talmud.1 The objective of
life is to move this "ball" into the shaar haMelech--the gate
of the King.2 By fulfilling the mitzvot
of the Torah, we move the world toward the goal of its creation.
At our every step, we are challenged by a formidable opposing team--composed
of our own negative traits and habits and a host of external foes--who
obstruct our advance toward the goal and seek to move the ball in the
opposite direction. But it is the perpetual presence of this opposition
that provokes our deepest potentials and maximizes our achievements.
A key factor in achieving victory are speed. The most skillful player
will be quite ineffective if his movements are slow, plodding, and unenthusiastic.
Similarly, a person's life must be animated with alacrity and joy in order
that his deeds should translate into scored goals and a true impact upon
The other important lesson is never to underestimate the power of the
feet. To advance the ball towards its goal, we make use of the full array
of our faculties, from "head" to "foot"--our minds,
our capacity for feeling, our talents and our physical energy. But our
most important faculty is the "feet," which represents our capacity
for action and "mindless" obedience. Although it constitutes
the "lowest" and least sophisticated of our faculties, it is
our unequivocal commitment to the divine will and the physical action
of the mitzvot that has the greatest impact upon our world and is the
most powerful force for its advancement and ultimate realization.3
1. Avodah Zarah 3:1
2. Book of Esther 4:2.
3. Based on an address by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Nissan 26, 5740 (April
Yanki Tauber is a well-regarded writer and author, as well as the chief
editor of Chabad.org, which this article was taken with permission.
© 2001-2010 Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center
Back to Sports Desk