The Pesah “Preview”
One cool aspect (IMHO) of our annual torah reading cycle does not always align with our Jewish calendar, let alone the secular one. What this means is that we often rotate parshiyot (torah portions) year to year as we approach each holiday. The torah portion preceding Pesah one year might be the one three weeks before Pesah the following year. This year, we begin Parshat Kedoshim before Pesah, but with the way the holiday falls, we take two weeks to complete the parsha.
Parshat Kedoshim deals with a myriad of laws, many of which do not seem to connect with one another. We are instructed that we will be holy, like the Lord who is holy. Then conceivably we are given ways to act/be holy. “Fear your mother and father”, “thou shalt not wholly reap the corner of thy field”, and “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind” are but a few of the laws mentioned in Kedoshim. There is a peculiar juxtaposition found in Leviticus 19:26: You shall not eat with the blood; neither shall you practice divination nor soothsaying. The verse makes a bit more sense when we realize this is a prohibition of all forms of Canaanite Customs. The first half of the verse “with the blood” refers to killing a beast and drinking its blood, with the spirits coming to partake of the blood which was their food. The second and third statements, however, become very relevant to the sports fan. “No divination” means no charms or incantations. No enchantment, magic and demonlogy. “No soothsaying” means no remarks like “We were lucky or unlucky.” That’s not to say that we can’t demonize to say have an “evil empire” or express how “lucky” we were to have the ball go just a bit foul. However, as fans, we have to realize that “rally caps” and power sticks do not win baseball games. Luck, does not win a game. But when we sing and chant from the stands, when our players are inspired and get that extra jolt of adrenaline, when we chant so loud the opposing players can’t think straight, that is not luck. The front office knows its not about luck. If they felt strongly about enchantments, I’m pretty sure they’d be out of a job.
As we approach the holiday of Passover, I always think of my favorite melody for this time of year, in honor of a hero of mine, Nomar Garciaparra (Nomar, in particular, is a baseball man who prided himself on his superstitious warmup ritual prior to each at bat). The song goes, “V’nomar Lefanav Shira Chadasha”- basically, Let us sing a new song. How great to sing this time of year- springtime, baseball time. For years, it was an important message as a Red Sox fan- that this year will be different, this year we’ll write a different script, sing a new song. If we sing this new song this year, maybe next year we’ll be in Jerusalem!! It is precisely because we do not practice divination/soothsaying that we can hope for this all to ring true. We know that it’s a partnership- that it is up to humanity to write the script. For the Red Sox, their expectations might be a tad different this year- freedom from the bondage of untimely hitting, from the opposing taskmasters who literally and figuratively whip the team, and of course, the oppression of run support. May their voices be heard on high, and may they at least beat the Yankees in the season series. Amen