DAY 1163: What the NFL and Rosh Hashanah Have in Common

September 6, 2015
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1163: What the NFL and Rosh Hashanah Have in Common


I’m a big football fan and this week is the lead-up to the regular season of the National Football League (NFL).  Each week/game is important because there are so few games in the year (as oppose to all other professional sports who play multiple games a week). That being said, certain weeks are bigger than others because the opponent is either a hated rival or a contending team. Those weeks are often called by the name of the opponent, as in “Dallas Week” when my favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, play the hated Dallas Cowboys. That week boasts a lot of hype and a lot of energy and enthusiasm because you really want your team to win that game. That week, even in a season of important weeks, is bigger than the rest.

With that in mind, today begins “Rosh Hashanah Week” for us as a community and for Jews around the world. Of course every week of the year is important because every week culminates in Shabbat which, according to some interpreters, is the most important holiday in the Jewish calendar. But weeks leading up to the holidays — especially the High Holidays and Passover — are unique because with them come the last minute preparations associated with preparing holiday meals, organizing travel logistics for family and friends, and getting excited for the holiday service/experience.

Yet all of that hype and preparation would be for nought if the “main event” it is leading to does not satisfy your expectations. When it comes to a football game, the most obvious expectation is that your team will win (and hopefully win convincingly). But what should our expectations be for the main event of the high holidays? People come to shul for the High Holidays for many reasons, but at the core of the experience is the opportunity to do t’shuvah, to do the work of becoming a better person. Each of us have highlights and lowlights from this past year and this time of a year is a chance to take stock of our emotional and spiritual selves with an “accounting of our souls” (heshbon hanefesh). This is the time to openly wonder and be truthful about whether we are the best we can be and how we can grow to be even better as an individual, a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling, a friend, a neighbor, a Jew, and a person.

So though it may not register the same level of excitement as preparing for a hated rival NFL team, let us take some time during “Rosh Hashanah week” to get ourselves hyped with some spirited heshbon hanefesh:

  • What are my successes this past year and what do they teach me about my strengths?

  • What are my mistakes this past year and what do they teach me about my weaknesses?

  • How can I emphasize my strengths and strengthen my weaknesses this year?


Get ready for game time!

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ari Saks


Photos taken from…

NFL — [CC BY 2.0 (]

Shofar  — Universidad Nacional de La Plata [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Rosh Hashanah
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