Perashat Nasso 5779
Perashat Nasso 5779Friday, June 14, 2019
It is a week of the underdogs.
The Stanley Cup went to a team that had never won in its 52-year history, as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins. Game six of the NBA Finals was a nail-biter down to the last fractions of a second, but in the end, the Toronto Raptors, who had never been to the finals, defeated the Golden State Warriors, the franchise of the decade, for the championship.
I want to shine a light on one weird little fact about the Raptors' victory. Of all six games it took to declare Toronto king, all but the first game was won by teams AWAY from home! The Warriors ONLY won in Toronto while the Raptors won three of their four defeats in Oakland! Home court advantage over a period of ten years has shown itself to be nearly 80%!
Both teams this year were pretty evenly matched due to Warrior injuries. So it really boiled down to who pushed themselves harder. Walking into a building knowing it’s not your home turf makes every player realize that if they don’t pull out all their tricks, there’s no way they’ll win. The disadvantage proves itself to be an advantage. The very fact they are expecting to lose fuels their energy, focus and drive to win. Everyone roots for the underdog, but no one roots harder than the underdog themselves.
One of the most difficult chapters in the Torah deals with the laws of the Sotah, the wayward wife who is suspected of adultery. While the scope of this process is beyond a short article such as this, there is a roundabout lesson hidden in the details which is very powerful for me.
If the Sotah admits that she was unfaithful the whole story ends there. She divorces her husband and they each go their separate ways, which would be the ideal scenario at this stage. If not, the Kohen must erase Gods’ name and have her drink the waters with their cursed conclusion. The Talmud says that at the moment of truth when she can either admit or deny her guilt, we do not allow her house workers to be there. As she is liable to "שלבה גס בהן - (have) her heart emboldened by their presence”. Influenced by the sight of the people she usually orders around, she may feel in charge of the situation. That false sense of security may cause her to do something that she will dearly regret later. Home court disadvantage.
Sometimes being comfortable is not a good thing. It makes us let our guard down and become oblivious to things that might be lurking about, ready to hurt us. The uncomfortable nature of feeling that tiny bit off balance can propel us forward in ways we never imagined. We become better because we must. Do or die.
Often people ask me for advice regarding what to do in a given challenging situation. I will think about the situation, and sometimes, if I feel it is appropriate, I may give them the advice they came to ask for. My favorite response is, “But Rabbi, that’s really hard!”. Obviously! If this was going to be really easy, they probably wouldn’t have needed to come to ask for my help to work it out. When we shrink back from hard work we don’t solve big problems. Get comfortable being uncomfortable! You'll never believe the impact that discomfort can make on your trajectory of growth and development!
In fact, often, the difference between the champion and the loser is feeling a little uncomfortable and rising to the challenge to overcome what stands between you and the win!
Rabbi Shlomo Farhi
May 29 2020
Sivan 6 5780