in fond memory...Cubs fans & Rabbi Schaalman
Friends, here are my thoughts from Friday night...
Last week, we mused that God is a baseball fan. After all, parashat Bereshit begins: In the big inning....
So then, if God is a baseball fan, I wonder if God may also be a Cubs fan, too. After all, I am pretty sure the Almighty made sure there were a couple of cubs on Noah's ark. And, on Facebook, I encountered today an announcement from a local church: "FYI, If you made any promises during the bottom of the 9th, service starts at 1045 Sunday morning." And, I saw many Cubs fans on tv praying from the bottom of their hearts. (Full disclosure: Indian fans were praying too, but probably not for the Cubs.) And then, after the Cubs great victory, 5 million citizens or so assembled to celebrate, the seventh largest gathering of its kind--most of which were dedicated to fervent religious moments. No surprise here as Cubs Mania is both fervent and religious. So all this being said, one can imagine God's loyalties.
I can tell you when the Indians tied up game 7 in the eighth inning I felt the pangs of grief long suffering Chicagoans must have felt over the 108 years. For a moment, I thought perhaps there truly was a curse. But, as we witnessed, the Cubs prevailed. For a historic and glorious change. And, through all the excitement--and the roller coaster ride of game 7--I thought of Rabbi Schaalman, one of the great Cub fans we know and love.
The next day, I went to visit Rabbi Schaalman and we discuss the amazing outcome. He, of course, was over-the-moon and tickled that two rabbis would sit down and discuss the great significance of the Cub's first world championship in 108 years. First, Rabbi asked me if I could imagine what such a conversation would be like if they had lost. I was glad we didn't have to carry on with such a conversation.
But, we did recognize the power of this moment--this transcendent, blessed moment--to reward our city's long-standing faith in the Cubs. And, the truth is, while we could not quite commit to God as a resolute Cubs fan, we mutually agreed in the power of faith to transform a moment. So whether you promised God that you would write a generous tzedakah check if the Cubs won or pledged some other mitzvah and God listened to your prayers or you simply believed in the players' capacity to overcome adversity with sheer will and indomitable spirit or the players themselves believed they could apply their God-given talent, finely-honed skill and deep reservoir of resilience, the moment--in some shape, way or form--seemed to redeem whatever collective faith flowed through it.
The Cubs' victory seemed to hang in that rainy November sky in Cleveland like the rainbow God painted for Noah--bringing peace, relief and joy at last--our faith so well rewarded. But, friends, let us keep perspective. And, I am sure the Cubs and Indians, even respectively in triumphant victory and agonizing defeat, would agree. The fact is even one day of homelessness or one day of racism or one day of hatred or one day of violence on our streets are too much for anyone to suffer. And while society may be cursed with these calamities, we don't have to submit to them as though they have a life of their own. Just like the Cubs (and Indians) made it clear that what really matters on the field is not curses but collective resilience and effort and faith in their capacity to make a difference, so, too, must we apply the will and energy and faith to heal our world. And, to the extent that our faith draws us closer to God in this palliative work, may we appreciate the divine inspiration.
While I pray it's not another 108 years before the Cubs' next championship, we have a lot of work do right now. May we not wait one day before we do what we can to be a force for good. May we help our new president and other elected leaders in fixing the day-to-day problems that burden our nation. And, while we don't have to finish these tasks, we are not free to desist from them. So let's get going; and, as we tackle the tough challenges of our city, let our spirits soar in faithful gratitude for the great victory of 2016. How sweet are its fruits!
Remember to get out and vote! The quality of our nation going forward depends on the conscientious practice of this sacred right. I'll reflect on the election in my next post.
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good.
Zie gezunt (Be well):
Rabbi Craig Marantz