Fourth Down and Goal to Go
I understand that fully one-half of the people reading this probably have no idea what the title means. So I will explain.
In the U.S. game of football, a team has four chances to advance ten yards closer to their goal. Once they traverse the entire field and arrive within the last ten yards before their opponent’s goal-line, they still have the same four chances, but they must either score their “touchdown”, settle for less by kicking what’s called a field goal or lose the ball.
Many times a team will march closer and closer, yard by yard until they have only one yard to go to score. Naturally, the defense digs in and becomes more and more determined so that crossing the goal line becomes that much more difficult. That’s why when the team finally scores, the one who takes them across gets the credit for the entire effort.
Judaism looks at a person as if he is on ladder, much like a vertical version of a football field. The goal is to reach the top. Sometimes a person starts out closer to the top (much like when a team intercepts a pass on the 50-yard line) because perhaps s/he was born into an observant family or because they had the benefit of an intense Jewish education. But as s/he goes through life, they never advance any closer to their goal. Others might begin on their own one-yard line and have to march the entire one hundred yards of the field to meet their ultimate goal. But they plug away, sometimes advancing, sometimes retreating, but always regaining that chance to advance to the next rung. It doesn’t matter where you start out in life, it only matters that you keep trying to move forward.
Together all of the Jewish people have been striving to bring about the final redemption leading to world peace and the universal knowledge of God. That has always been our goal. The sages of this generation tell us that we’re on our opponent’s one-yard line and all we need is that final surge. But the defense is pushing back harder than ever. If we all pull together, outsmart the defense and focus on our goal, then this could be the generation that gets the credit for the entire 3300 year effort to bring the Messiah. Let’s not settle for less and let’s not lose the ball.
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