The runner and the rabbi

July 25, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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It was erev Pesach and the runner had a problem. He needed lots of carbohydrates before a major meet and that meant eating chometz…could the rabbi help?

Rabbi Levi Wolff and 400m Olympic contender Steven Solomon

And so the athlete sought advice from Sydney Rabbi Levi Wolff whom he had never met before….

Let the Central Synagogue rabbi tell the rest of the story….

“This past Erev Pesach a young fellow came to see me in the Shule office. When he walked in I quickly recognized him from a story in the local Jewish media about a Jewish boy who was the fastest under 20 runner in Australia.

He told me that he came to speak to me about a big dilemma he had. The following week was Pesach and he had one of the biggest races of his career ahead of him and he needed to eat lots of carbohydrates. Although he is not AT ALL religious, he told me he never ate chametz on Pesach! His coaches thought he had gone absolutely crazy by refusing to eat chametz as he had been training for this race for months. If he won that race he stood a chance to be selected as a member the Australian team competing in the Olympic Games in London.

When I asked him if matzah counted for carbohydrates, he laughed saying ‘it doesn’t even let you run to the toilet… never mind the field!’  So that was not going to be an option. I asked if rice could do the job. He said it is not the ideal choice but it might be suffice. So I took the chutzpah to tell him that since many Sephardic Jews eat rice on Pesach, it would be the only carbohydrate I could think of that he might be able to eat. I then went on to tell him the story of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Bardichev who went searching for bread amongst all the Jews just hours before Pesach and he could not find any….yet other things banned by the local government were secretly available. He turned to G-d and said, “Look how special your children are!”

I then said to him, I believe that if you do what you need to do, Hashem will do His part in looking after you! We put on tefillin together and he committed that on Pesach, come what may, he would not eat chametz regardless of the pressure he was under!”

Steven Solomon is representing Australia in London and will compete in the 400m and 4 x 400m relay. Rabbi Wolff added: “He is very proud to represent his Jewish people!”


One Response to “The runner and the rabbi”
  1. Harry Joachim says:

    What a Kiddush HaShem! The pintele Yid shines through! Even Jews divorced from all other vestiges of Judaism will still avoid chametz on Pesach!

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