The Super Bowl & Tu B’Shevat

This last Sunday, I was shocked to discover that the Super Bowl was watched by millions and millions of people. Someone asked if I planned on watching it.  My response was, “What for?” I then found out that the owners of the competing teams are Jewish, to which my response was, “That should make me want to buy a team, not watch them!”

But the Super Bowl buzz was strong. I even heard about two shuls (in the respective teams’ cities) that made a fundraiser/bet with each other on the outcome, with the winning city’s shul taking home the entire, quite considerable, amount donated from both cities.

Apparently, the estimates were that over 140 million would watch the game! What really struck me about the massive scale here is that more people would be watching a football game than had voted in the Presidential election!  (After the fact, I looked up the numbers, and ‘only’ 111 million people watched it, while almost 140 million people voted! Whew! I was quite relieved…)

This led me onto an interesting train of thought: Why do so many people care about sports? Elections and choosing a leader is a matter of real impact and importance; it can shape the direction of a country in social, moral, and financial matters. What could be so attractive about watching a game? (And it’s not just us in the USA. The World Cup had over a billion viewers!) I think that it boils down to society’s need for entertainment. For the most part, we all need escape valves, and different people wind down in different ways: some watch sports, and root for their team; others play sports; for others, a good book or a glass of wine and some music will do. I ride my bike to decompress.

Spiritually we also need these pressure release valves. That is what – in some ways – the holidays are for. We are in the middle of a long stretch without many holidays.  Biblically, from Sukkot to Pesach; practically, from Chanukah to Purim.  But even now we have a little spark of light – Tu B’Shevat.  A holiday that can seem mysterious.  Do the trees really need a New Year? (Do they even like champagne?) But there are deep messages in the roots of this day. This year, Tu B’Shevat is on Shabbat: all are welcome to join us for a themed Kiddush in honor of the holiday. And on Sunday, our new Sisterhood, Nashim BeRamah, will be celebrating with a lovely light luncheon exploring the Kabbalah behind Tu B’Shevat. So ladies, be sure to be there, and enjoy a truly spiritual escape!