Tag Archives: olympics

To be the best

I must have seen at least ten medal ceremonies of the Winter Olympics that just ended yesterday. I mostly watched the ones where the gold medal winners were Canadian. Every time, without fail, I cried as they played the national anthem. I deliberately watched a medal ceremony where it wasn’t Canada who won, just to see if maybe I was just being patriotic, yet I still cried.

I think KoD was a little taken aback with these specific tears – because really, it doesn’t seem logical. I tried to explain to him why I cry, why I am so moved. (He is used to me crying at commercials and movies, and really, pretty much at the drop of a hat….)

Imagine, being the best in the world at something. Working most of your life towards this one goal, that may one day be attainable. Due to hard work, talent, blood, sweat, tears and perseverance, you achieve your goal. To be awarded a medal for that achievement, to have won that medal for your country – that is huge. To be able to tell yourself that you are the best in the world. How many people get that chance in a lifetime? Being crowned the best is truly an awesome moment. Humbling and self-affirming all at once. It is indeed a God-given moment. I cry because I recognize the gift in that moment and my soul is touched.

I know I will never be the best at any sport, nor pretty much the best at anything other than being the best mother and wife. I am totally ok with that. I don’t need a gold medal or a country cheering me on. I am content to know I try my best every single day to be the best me I could possibly be. But what a trip that would be to be awarded a medal for being the best HSM I could be.

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Olympic Meshugass!

I actually listened to the rabbi’s speech today in shul, and most of what he said ticked me off. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe he is usually controversial and I never listened before.

 

First he talked about being Jewish – that in order to be counted as being Jewish one has to keep the mitzvoth. What? In my understanding if your mother is Jewish, that makes you Jewish whether you keep one mitzvah, 613 mitzvoth or none. I guess his point was really that if the Jews don’t keep mitzvoth there will be no Judaism left. But saying you are not Jewish if you do not perform mitzvoth was wrong. No wonder secular Jews sometimes feel alienated from organized religion, if this is the prevailing attitude,

 

Then he decided to lambast the Olympics, calling the amazing feats of athletic prowess “meshugass”, ridiculing the respect we have for people who can jump higher, run faster, dive cleaner etc. Apparently according to the rabbi, this is totally wrong. We shouldn’t admire anyone who obviously has these talents because it has nothing to do with who we are as Jews. We should admire people because of their Jewishness, their fear of G-d, their belief in Him, and their daily struggles in order to serve Him. Surely a person who is faster, can jump higher etc is blessed by G-d, surely these are G-d given talents? Ok, maybe worshipping them is too much, but how can anyone fail to see G-d’s gift in Michael Phelps’s swimming? There is something totally unworldly and beyond the norm in that. There were many Jewish Olympians this year – should we not be proud? Is the rabbi saying we should be ashamed to put any emphasis on physical accomplishments?

 

I am guessing that this rabbi, well into his 70s, has a different mind-set than I do, and sees evil and anti-Jewishness everywhere he looks. What I really hate about rabbi’s sermons is that there is no Q and A period after, that there is no arguing with his point of view. The rabbi speaks, the service continues, and I am left to stew with my thoughts. Of course, I could have discussed it with him after mussaf, at the Kiddush, but would he have spoken to me, a mere woman? Not just a woman, but one with an opinion too. Perish the thought! This Rabbi seems to be all fire and brimstone. I hate that.