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Parshas Re'eh - It Takes Three Strikes Until You're Out      24 Av 5780

08/14/20 12:10:36


"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" is a 1908 Tin Pan Alley song by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer which has become the official anthem of North American baseball, although neither of its authors had attended a game prior to writing the song. The song's chorus is traditionally sung during the middle of the seventh inning of a baseball game. Fans are generally encouraged to sing along. Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd; Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don't care if I never get back. Let me root, root, root for the home team, If they don't win, it's a shame. For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, At the old ball game.

Baruch Hashem, I am in he eleventh cycle of writing a weekly message. There were two times that I took a forced hiatus due to my brother and mother’s illnesses where I did not have the time or head space to write. To be honest there may have been a week here and there that I missed a week, but never more than three in a row. A few weeks ago, amid Covid-19 I missed two weeks in a row and teetered on a third. Well I need to thank an avid reader (I know that now) of my weekly message who said to me “no pressure, but I really miss reading your dvar Torah message”.  At that point I realized and said to myself I need to get back to it, because if I miss another it will be my third strike and I am out.

Baseball season began late this year and I am not into it as much as I should. Typically, I watch more of the games, am following scores, standings, and stats, but so far this year I watch some highlights if I am in the mood. I do not think my age has anything to do with it, rather baseball in my humble opinion has two strikes against itself, at least for me. Covid-19 created a shorter season of fewer games and are playing without fans in the stands, strike one. At this point the season nevertheless starts but amid a wave of social unrest in this country that has stained professional sports. Whenever I attended an event that commenced with the singing of the national anthem I for one was very proud and would sing purposefully out loud (despite the fact in some arenas and stadiums they only play the music without the lyrics). Who would have ever thought we would face such challenges to our national pastime? Oh, I almost forgot, to make up for missed games they scheduled double-headers of seven inning games instead of nine. When do we sing “take me out to the ballgame”? Oh yeh, I forgot, there are no fans in the stands to sing… It is for these reasons that at least for me baseball has two strikes and I do not want to strike out

The last six months have been trying times for everyone around. Like any other situation everyone handles things differently, not necessarily better, or worse but different. Unfortunately, some areas of life are more manageable under stress than others and naturally some handle it better than others. Throughout the pandemic we watched and heard speakers give chizuk, inspiration, techniques in how to get through the challenges we each face. As of today, some things have gotten better but other ways of life continue under pressure and stress. We all have our up and downs, our successes, and our failings. But the key element is to build upon, maintain and continue that which is good, and if by chance we fall, stumble, and break the streak it can not go past the second strike. We need to stay shy of that third time because three in Jewish law establishes a "חזקה"  a pattern for positive and negative. The concept of Chazaka or threepeat is found extensively throughout the Torah Sheb’Al Peh the Oral law, but also alluded to in the Torah SheBichsav the Written Torah as well.

In this week’s Parshas R’Ay the Torah states in Devarim 16:16 "שלוש פעמים בשנה יראה כל זכורך את פני ה' אלוקיך במקום אשר יבחר בחג המצות ובחג השבועות ובחג הסוכות, ולא יראה את פני ה'    ריקם" “Three times each year, all your males shall thus be seen in the presence of God your Lord in the place that He will choose: on the festival of Matzahs, on the festival of Shavuoth, and on the festival of Sukkoth. In those times you shall not appear before God empty-handed”. There is an obligation that three times a year a person needs to come to Yerushalayim and visit Hashem at the Beis HaMikdash. In Gemara Pesachim 8b Rabbi Elazar says that “whoever owns land in Israel must go up, and whoever does not have land need not go up.” Tosafos brings up a fact that Rebbi Yehuda Ben Beseira did not ascend these three times because he did not have land in Eretz Yisrael. The Vilna Gaon (for my special reader) raises a difficulty as to why Reb Yehuda Ben Beseira did not have land, surely he lived during this time and all Jews received a portion during the capture and dividing of land in the time of Yehoshua? Reb Eliyahu of Vilna explains that land was given to those who either were part of the exodus from Egypt or to thos who came to the land itself. But the Gemara in Sanhedrin 92b states the individuals whom Yechezkel/Ezekiel HaNavi brought back to life were the ones who left Egypt early and married women from ‘outside’. Reb Yehuda Ben Beseira stood up and announced “I am from the sons of the sons who left Egypt early and here are the Tefillin (to prove his lineage) that my father’s father left for me. Ezekiel had revived the people of Ephraim who were included in the count but nevertheless were not part of the actual group who left Egypt and not part of the group to come into the land together. Therefore, Reb Yehuda Ben Beseira who did not own a piece of land in Israel did not have to go up, but nevertheless connected in other ways as he knew the importance of the Chazaka element. In the absence of the Holy Temple there are those that say a person should visit their Rebbi those three times a year no matter where we are in the world. The connection to the Rebbi is the connection to Hashem. Three times strengthens the bonds and the recognition of who we are no matter when or where we are. That third Yom Tov of Sukkos is approaching and that will have completed the cycle of the three Chagim. Let us do what ever we can at every opportunity to strengthen

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Wed, September 30 2020 12 Tishrei 5781