Kick the Ball and Kick the Bucket…writes Rabbi Laibl Wolf

February 19, 2015 by Rabbi Laibl Wolf
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I have often wondered why ball games are so popular, especially with children, sometimes with seals, and often with Tottenham Hotspur fans.

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

Rabbi Laibl Wolf

Pragmatists will suggest that this is because a ball is the most mobile shape nature has produced – and that is true. Indeed we may have learned to fashion spherical-like shapes from observation of bird’s eggs or species of bugs that curl into a ball upon being touched, or from raindrops. I daresay these could have even inspired the invention of the wheel. Or was it the sun or moon? Nature is a great teacher.

Most curiously, humans inflate a tube within a leather outer casing, forming a sphere, and kick it over and over again to two, three or four pieces of timber called goal-posts. Then, as this spherical shape crosses the line of these timber postings, human beings scream themselves hoarse, and jump up and down, at great risk to their Achilles tendons and larynx cords. Strange how the spherical shape excites the human species. It makes any passing Martian look askance at earth creatures’ erratic behaviour patterns.

Yet viewed from the perspective of an improbable human, kicking a leather-skinned ball by supposedly skilled humanoid creatures who obviously view it with disdain, is a perfectly reasonable undertaking. Earthlings use their considerable strength and talent to transform an inert spheroid shape into a flying projectile perfectly directed to a particular point in the space-time spectrum – often described as the goal-line. And should this ingenious exploitation of kinetic energy succeed, it is aptly called a ‘goal’.

Now why should a complex interaction of neurotransmitters in the brain be employed to direct a cow-hide sphere into a ‘goal? Here, dear reader, lies the secret to understanding the primary motivation of human endeavour: the human being uses the spheroid shape to express an instinctive truth – life’s meaning is to connect.

Connectedness is expressed in a number of significant terms: love, fulfilment, happiness, excitement, accomplishment, achievement, self-realization and contentment, just to name a few – a pretty formidable array of human desires. Each is underscored by one singular goal – to bridge the gap. The gap may exist between two people. Love bridges that gap. It may be found between two atoms. Attraction bridges that gap. It may be the distance between mind and knowledge. Knowing bridges that gap. It may be the result of opposite poles of two magnets. Touching bridges the gap. Happiness is being at one-with-the-other and also with the Cosmic Other. Excitement is the subjective experience of hope meeting reality. Achievement is cementing goal and effort into one. Every positive experience expresses a state of oneness.

These instances of oneness don’t occur at will or n cue – destiny often has other plans. So people create virtual surrogates such as football teams, soccer teams, hockey teams, baseball teams and others. We live the quest of ‘bridging the gap’ through the endeavors of the team. When the team wins we identify with that success – the team’s success becomes our success. We adopt it and own it. We bridge the gap between distance (competition) and winning (happiness). Every time that spheroid shape falls within the perimeter space of the goal posts we draw nearer to our own goal of happiness. We cheer, stamp our feet, blow hot air and stretch our vocal cords. We do so because we are exhibiting the uplift from the state of oneness. We do so because we are created in the image creation – ultimately a state of Oneness.

But being humans with the capacity for consciousness and self-awareness, we can distinguish between what is important and what is not. As we mature, the surrogate football experience is displaced by more meaningful expressions of joy and fulfilment. What excited us in our youth gives way to a more mature states. The goal posts have moved.

That is not to say that kicking the ball is totally devalued. It can still be highly entertaining – but no longer the raison d’etre of life. Continued immaturity breeds the danger of brawls, trashing of windows, fistfights on and off the field, clinical depression, all occurring when the team has gone down. Only an immature surrogate fulfilment remains, incomplete and potentially self-destructive.

The spherical shape is a good indicator of our human state. Kick the ball by all means but don’t make it your life. If you do, then you will regret it when you ‘kick the bucket’.

Rabbi Laibl Wolf is the Dean of  Spiritgrow – The Josef Kryss Center, Australia



3 Responses to “Kick the Ball and Kick the Bucket…writes Rabbi Laibl Wolf”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    When kicking the ball to win by achieving goals, there is also a side who must lose, if not draw. It is quite important to learn how to lose. When striving for a result and seeming to lose along the way, some keep trying and sometimes break through. Games can sometimes be useful for this.

  2. Schneur Naji says:

    this trendy mix of trendy new age theology, neo- pseudo -kabbalah and your quirky understanding of Chassidus Chabad where is it taking us?
    What is it all about Laibl?.

  3. Schneur Naji says:

    what are you trying to say.
    I could not follow the drift of your article.
    Do your have a comment on the disgraceful behavior and ridiculous comments of your fellow Chabad Rabbis at the Yeshivah.
    Is your Sprintgrow an open and transparent organization or a private closed shop?.
    Who do you report to?.

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