As we all are, I am reading blog upon blog and email upon email and have lost count of the Zoom calls and webinars. But many, especially some of the “Jewish” ones, add such a different take on all that is going on in our world. Today, David Ackerman, the Jewish Education Consultant from the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, combined a few of my favorite topics — Judaism and football (yes, I do like football). Here is what he sent:
“The NFL draft is a chance for football team owners to gamble obscene amounts of money on individual players’ potentials. And while it’s true they collect a lot of player data, it’s also true there’s no guarantee the first quarterback drafted will end up more successful than the next quarterback drafted. In fact, Richard Thaler, a Nobel Prize Laureate, and his colleague, Cade Massey, proved the NFL’s prediction rate in the draft is only 52% — slightly better than flipping a coin. Predicting the future is hard.
“Classic rabbinic thought holds only God knows the future and it is impossible for humans, on their own, to predict other human behavior. Jacob’s deathbed scene is the prime example: Jacob summons his children to tell them their futures (Gen. 49:1-2). But the subsequent blessings lack any specific predictions. This is because God’s presence abandons him, leaving him unable to prophesy (Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 56a).
“Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (scholar, philosopher and author) says this is a fundamental feature of Jewish spirituality. We cannot predict the future because the future is not yet written. However, we can make the future through our individual choices. With so much up for grabs because of COVID-19, it’s nice to know we can each make decisions today to shape the future we hope for.”
If the NFL, classic rabbinic thought and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, can’t predict the future, who are we to try? The important challenge for today is to live in the present and to be fully present with those you are with whether in the house or virtually. Another wonderful book that took off in the tornado, was about “moments.” We remember the moments more than the totality of the experience. It is something I remind myself of when we have gone to Disney World with all the grandchildren. They will never remember the long lines, or the ice cream that fell or the gift they didn’t get. They will remember the special moments when we laughed and screamed and met Tigger. Let’s work hard today to make those moments and remember them!
From the Shabbat Lady
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas.