Friday, November 7, 2008

TBE Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Samuel Sterman on Parashat Noah

“And the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” This verse could either be describing the world at the time of Noah – OR, a typical Saturday or Sunday afternoon in the fall at hundreds of football stadiums across the country.

Yes, football is a violent sport. Some would even say it’s not a Jewish sport, since Jewish parents tend to encourage their kids to play less violent sports, like baseball, basketball and chess.
But last year, when I went to my parents to ask them if I could play football, strangely, they said yes. Of course they didn’t really want me to do it, but my dad said to my mom, “Give him a week and he’ll change his mind.”

They were wrong. Now, I’m a defensive captain, starting defensive back and one of the leading tacklers on the team. As you might have noticed, I’m no Brian Urlacher in size and I’m not exactly one of the larger players on my team.

But Iooks can be deceiving, and I’ve learned that success in football has less to do with how big you are and more to do with technique and teamwork, along with the ability to take a violent sport and play it in a controlled manner.

“Noah” is all about technique, teamwork and controlled violence. It’s also about football: if you think of the animals in the ark, half of the NFL was there: You had the Bears, the Lions, the Eagles, and the Falcons there. So were the Rams, and they played an even bigger role in the time of Abraham. And then there were the Ravens, who played a key role in this story. Noah sent one out to see if there was any dry land, but the raven did not return.

Technique is important for a football player, especially one who might be smaller than the opponent. The key is to get low, which is very easy for me, and to wrap your opponent with both arms. Noah used technique to craft his ark and to make sure that there were no holes. If you have holes, whether in boat building or building a defense, the result can be disastrous. (Think “Titanic,” or this year’s Rams)

After the flood, God decided that He would never destroy the world again because of violence, realizing that people are violent in nature. But that violence needs to be controlled, which is why some laws were established for all people, called the Seven Laws of the Sons of Noah.” Things that were prohibited included murder, animal abuse and grabbing the facemask. As a Patriots fan, they should also have prohibited hitting a quarterback in the knees, which is, unfortunately, what happened to Tom Brady.

Finally, Noah and the animals had to come together like a team to survive on the Ark. There were many animals that did not get along in nature very well, like the cats and dogs, but they had to work together to live on the Ark. In my Mitzvah project, I learned that it takes a great deal of teamwork to save abandoned animals. I raised money for PAWS, which is an organization that saves animals. It takes people like all of us to raise money to pay for the animal’s care. It also takes people to provide care for them, to nurse them back to health, and to find homes for them. I thank all of you for bringing items today that will help PAWS save more animals.

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