Baseball is back! The crack of the bat and the smell of freshly cut grass ushers in the summer months. Whether it's the Duluth Huskies getting back to playing or the kids little league games, baseball is a part of our lives.
The Baal Shem Tov teaches that everything we encounter is not by chance and must teach us a lesson in the service of G-d. What lessons can be learned from baseball?
Once a bar mitzvah boy came to see the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
"Are you a baseball fan?" The Rebbe asked.
The Bar-Mitzvah boy replied that he was.
"Does he take you out to games?"
Well, every once in a while my father takes me to a game. We were at a game a month ago.
"How was the game?"
It was disappointing, the 13-year-old confessed. By the sixth inning, the Dodgers were losing nine-to-two, so we decided to leave.
"Did the players also leave the game when you left?"
Rabbi, the players can't leave in the middle of the game!
"Why not?" asked the Rebbe. "Explain to me how this works."
There are players and fans, the baseball fan explained. The fans can leave when they like — they're not part of the game and the game could, and does, continue after they leave. But the players need to stay and try to win until the game is over.
"That is the lesson I want to teach you in Judaism," said the Rebbe with a smile. "You can be either a fan or a player. Be a player."
While we enjoy being spectators this baseball season, let's be professional Judaism players.