This has been niggling in the back of my mind for a while already and I have alluded to the thought before here. Aren't we Jews just too nice to be taken seriously? The Muslims stridently screech for what they want, as unreasonable as it might look. By none too subtly, regularly reminding us of what they are prepared to do if they don’t get their way, they are shamelessly pandered to by, frankly, everybody with a healthy respect for their own hide, not least Jack Straw.
We Chassidim do not follow the Olympics closely. Most, I dare say, are not aware the winter games are in full swing. Certainly there is little enthusiasm for the Hellenistic ideal. There is indeed little trace of the Adonis in the fellow who shared the showers with me this weekend in my local mikve. As he massaged soap over his generous limbs he wondered aloud to the equally gross Neanderthal studiously shampooing his forehairs in the next shower what the point of the Olympic games is. There was a kind of triumphant superiority to his repeated mantra; “What difference does it make to mankind that some skier from Austria can go faster than anybody else down a mountain?”
“Yes. Does he deliver emergency medicines at the bottom of a mountain?” That spark from chimp number two proved he had understood the profundity of the argument.
It was a scrawny little Gollum who earned my respect though. He had been washing himself quietly and doing his best to melt into the background as some people do when those with more lung than processing power take the floor. I couldn’t help noticing wryly that only in a Chassidic mikve could a forty year old man wash his hair with Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and leave with his manhood intact.
“It is not about winning” he said and I smugly awaited the old canard about taking part. “It’s about losing.” He had everyone’s attention.
“Think about it. Let’s say each sport has a hundred competitors and you have fifty sports, that means by the end of the games you have fifty winners and four-thousand-nine-hundred-and-fifty losers. And look how well behaved and civilized that whole thing is.”
I think even the moulting bears understood. As I looked at that man his gnome’s forehead had turned into the dome of a learned man and his nondescript face had taken on the allure of a diminutive scholar.
There is, it is true, a certain dignity to being sporting and I do not feel our situation is dire enough here to warrant actively promoting a more active and forceful method of getting noticed. I am however worriedly watching the situation in Israel now with the new Hamas government being sworn in. Regardless of my positions on specific governments or policies in Israel I will not be able stand by and be silent as I see governments, who refuse to deal with terrorist organisations in their own countries, open negotiations with and support for a group who openly refers to the Protocols in its constitution.
In sport there is indeed dignity in losing but in war dignity is in victory or death in its pursuit.