It was July 2012, when over 90,000 Jews gathered at MetLife Stadium to celebrate the Siyum Hashas, the completion of the global daily Talmud project called Daf Yomi. This was a smaller venue, it was a baseball stadium, and more importantly, it was not a celebration. Several thousand people had gathered to pray for the teen hostages in Israel. But there were similarities.
Both nights were about harnessing Jewish unity. Both nights adapted the state-of-the-art resources to broadcast a matter of vital importance to the community. On both nights, a peaceful and dignified atmosphere reigned.
And though neither event had anything to do with sports, I saw a connection.
Sports help us understand that life has consequence, that the actions of an individual carry weight, that there is something powerful about aligning our will with a mass of people. The intensity with which we follow sports points to how deeply we want to know these things.
The Siyum was our Super Bowl of Jewish wisdom, except there was only one team. The prayer rally became our night to pitch our prayers – literally. One by one, distinguished rabbis and family members of the hostages walked out of the dugout, stepped up to the podium on the pitcher’s mound, and took turns leading the stadium in prayer.
Everyone, though subject to distractions, off days, and other ailments, is capable of being an ace and delivering for his team.
May we merit to take to heart the pain and difficulty facing Yaakov Naftoli ben Rachel Devorah, Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim, and Eyal ben Iris Teshura and their families.