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The Power of Tradition: Chanuka Lessons from Football

By Rabbi Yaakov Silverman

As we wrap up the festival of Chanuka, I would like to thank everyone that joined us or wanted to join us for our party and hope to see you all soon. In honor of the last day of Chanuka I would like to share a quick thought that the legendary Bill Walsh really helped me understand. The originator of what is now known as the West Coast Offense, Walsh really created a revolution that drastically altered the course of the NFL and formed the game we follow and play. Starting with the weak-armed Virgil Carter of the Bengals, Coach Walsh devised a series of plays to embrace the low-risk short passing game that turned Carter into the most accurate passer in the NFL. From that point on, he successfully turned the least talented of QBs into the best of their respective leagues and colleges. His tenure with the 49ers included one of the greatest of them all, Joe Montana and his successor, HOFer Steve Young. The impact this one man had on the game of football is particularly noticeable when you take stock of the current Head Coaches in the NFL and college. Some of the biggest names are students, both directly and indirectly of Walsh and they include: Andy Reid, John and Jim Harbaugh, John Gruden, Mike Shanahan, Gary Kubiak, Tony Dungy, Jack Del Rio, Lovie Smith, and Mike Tomlin. This style of play developed by this one brilliant man has affected so many players and teams in the broad football world. The festival of Chanuka is different than Passover or Rosh Hashana in the sense that there is no mention of it in the Torah. The events that led to the establishment of these 8 days of celebration and thanks to  G-d for all He does in our lives, happened thousands of years after the Torah was already given to our nation at Sinai. That being said, it is a holiday that is only celebrated because of the tradition our Rabbis began following the miracle of Chanuka. As we celebrate and enjoy our holiday this year, it is crucial to reflect on the difference this tradition has on our lives. Our Rabbis have guided us and changed our relationship with G-d by introducing this time to enjoy with our families and connect to our nation and to G-d with a new level of profundity each year. We need to treasure that tradition for it is what shaped us and created the nation we are today. It is in our best interest to cherish and do whatever we can to learn more about our heritage and pass it on to the next generation in our families and communities so we can continue the great gift of Judaism we have for posterity.