Soccer in the Talmud
We can learn a lesson from football, or "soccer" as they call
it in USA.
The Talmud Yerushalmi (Avodah Zorah 3:1) tells us that an eagle carried
Alexander the Great into the heavens. From there, the world looked to
him like a ball. Similarly, the Zohar (3:10) comments "the entire
world revolves in a circle like a ball."
In soccer, the intent of the game is to propel the ball through a gate.
Hence, the ball, that is, the world, has been given to every Jew with
a similar intent. The Mishnah comments: "Each individual is obligated
to say 'For my sake the world was created.' "The world is given to
each individual with the purpose that he bring it through the "gates
of the king," despite the many obstacles and difficulties that must
In soccer, the opposing team tries to prevent the scoring of a goal by
the players. At the same time, they try to put the ball through the opposing
players' goal, "the opening of Gehinom." So it is in our lives:
the obstacles and challenges we encounter must arouse in us the attribute
of victory, a quality that activates the essence of the soul.
In soccer, the presence of the opposing team causes a player to run and
to jump - not to be content with slow, step by step, progression. Also,
the game is won through the efforts of the feet, symbolic of deed and
action, rather than the head. Certainly, the game must be played with
thought. Nevertheless, the most important aspect is deed and action. Similarly,
in our service there are parallels to these concepts.
The remarks are not intended to take a person away from his studies and
cause him to go out and play ball. However, since there are children who,
as of yet, do not fully appreciate the preciousness of Torah and want
to play ball, they should be able to do so "for the sake of Heaven."
By "educating a child according to his way," that is, taking
something like soccer, which he enjoys, and showing him how it can be
done "for the sake of Heaven," we ensure that "even when
he grows older he will not depart from it."
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
From "Hasidim in Israel" by Tzvi Rabinowicz ( Aronson)
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