Becoming Michael Jordan, Off The Court

This is a guest column by Rabbi Da-vid Rosenthal, from Aish Minnesota.
I remember an advertisement by Michael Jordan:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

It’s a powerful thought. All the years of work, sweat and grueling punishment that went into Jordan’s success.
All the failures and missed attempts.
Can you imagine if Jordan had shown up to the games without any practice? Just strolled up and played, without any preparation. How do you think he would have performed? Probably better than me, but definitely not up to par. Basketball, like any sport, is won more off the field than on. It’s much more about what you do off-court – when the lights aren’t shining – that makes the difference.
In this weeks parsha, we are introduced to the Mishkan(Tabernacle – the portable Temple). The verse states:
“And you shall make me a Mikdash(Temple) and I shall dwell in them”.
Everyone takes note, that the more accurate Hebrew term should have been “and I shall dwell in it”.
What is the message?
Nowadays, there are some pretty impressive Synagogues. People come to these edifices with varying degrees of frequency. Some come once a day, some once a week, others maybe once or twice a year. And of course, we treat these buildings with respect and reverence, or at least we try to. Yet the Torah is telling us, that the purpose of the “House of G-d” is more about bringing Hashem into our lives than it is about bringing Hashem into our Shuls.
Living with G-d is the purpose of Jewish life. A Shul that exists as the centerpiece of our community is merely a culmination of our actions in our daily lives. If we live Judaism in our homes, then Hashem’s presence will be with us and our communities. If however, we use our Shul as our sole source of Jewish activity – our homes being no different from our non-Jewish neighbors – then Hashem’s presence will not be felt or experienced – neither in Shul or out. Our Synagogues will be hollow structures, filled more with pomp and ceremony, than holiness and substance.
How we play off-court is what makes the difference to our on-court game. If we include Hashem in the team that plays when the cameras aren’t rolling, then He’ll be sure to join us during the “play-off’s” as well.
So how do we bring Hashem into our homes? Perhaps by sharing a Dvar Torah at the table(check our for a great supply). Perhaps by playing the “Thank You G-d” game. Having (and reading) Jewish books in the home. Saying Kiddush and Havdalah on Shabbat. There are a myriad of ways to bring the Divine Presence into our dwellings.
May we all merit Hashem’s presence and have a Good Shabbos.
(Photo: simplistic designs)