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Perseverance: Torah Lessons from Football

rocks_R Akiva

By Rabbi Yaakov Silverman

As if the Browns season was not bad enough. LT Joe Thomas, the consistent beacon of hope and slight ray of success tore his tricep and is out for the rest of the season. After 167 straight starts since his rookie season in 2007, 10 Pro Bowl appearances, and an impressive 10,363 uninterrupted snaps, Thomas was finally slowed down and forced to watch from the sideline for the first time in his career. Keep in mind, this streak was done for a Browns team that went through 18 quarterbacks and held a 48-119 record. In our history, we had a leader that impacted our entire nation in a powerful way. Rabbi Akiva began his studying of Torah at the age of 40. He did not have the background and upbringing that are so important to become a Jewish leader. The story is told that he passed by a rock that had water dripping on the same spot over and over and it had bore a hole deep into the rock. When Rabbi Akiva saw that he recognized that, although it may take a long time, even the most impenetrable mind could succeed in the study of Torah as long as there is a consistent and continual attempt at learning. He continued to live by this mantra and after all 24,000 of his students perished, he started again and recreated the next link in the chain of our heritage that we still hold on to today. In our personal lives, we tend to give up and sometimes avoid trying something that may be in our best interest because of the magnitude of the project and the difficulty of reaching the goal. Rabbi Akiva’s lesson rings true and we can do our best to take small steps, with short gains, one snap at a time until we succeed in accomplishing our goals and being better and more elevated people.

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