February 27, 2024
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Vayigash: Snatching Victory From the Jaws of Defeat

Bereishit: 45: 26

“Dad, come here, you gotta see this.”

Ron Dworkin tried to ignore his son.

“Dad! Hurry up!”

Ron walked over to the den, where his son Michael was planted in front of the television, as he had been for the last three hours. The New York Jets were playing the Buffalo Bills, and the game was close.

“You’re not going to believe it. The Bills had the game all wrapped up. All they had to do was run two or three handoffs and take a knee. Then, with less than two minutes left, J.P. Losman, the Bills quarterback, tried for a passing play. He got sacked and he fumbled the ball. Shaun Ellis of the Jets scooped it up and ran 11 yards for the touchdown.”

“Wow, Mike, that’s amazing.”

“Amazing? It’s huge! It’s enormous! It’s gargantuan! If the Jets had lost, they would have been knocked out of first place in their division. Now they retain first place and still have a great shot at the playoffs.”

“That’s great,” Ron said, patting his son on his shoulder. Ron had introduced Michael to football when he was a little boy. For three generations the Dworkins were New York Giants fans, and Ron figured he could pass on the tradition and share his love for the sport with his own son.

But Ron never imagined how much Michael would get into football. Michael watched every game he could. On the weekends he organized two-hand-touch games with his friends. He read every football article in the sports section of the New York Times each day, and he dreamed of being the Giants’ quarterback when he got older. Football was not a pastime for Michael. It was an obsession.

“Do you know what this reminds me of?” Michael asked.

“What?”

“The fumble that Giants’ quarterback Joe Pisarcik committed against the Eagles in 1978 that lost an easy game for the Giants. Remember, Dad? That’s the most classic last-minute fumble of all time.”

“Of course. How could anyone forget that play?”

If only he cared about his Torah studies as much as he cared about football. He would be one of the great talmidei chachamim, one of the greatest scholars, of all time, Ron thought.

“Do you know what else it reminds me of?” Michael asked.

“What?”

“The way Yaakov must have felt when his sons told him that Yosef was still alive. That must have been quite a last-minute turnaround.”

“What did you say?” Ron asked his son.

“You know, Dad, it’s in this week’s parsha. The brothers return from Egypt and tell Yakov: Od Yosef chai, vechi hu moshel b’chol Eretz Mitzrayim, Yosef is still alive, and he is the ruler of all of Egypt. Yaakov is near the end of his life, he’s living in a famine, and he believes that his beloved son was lost to wild animals. Then he finds out that not only is Yosef alive, he’s the ruler of Egypt and he’s in charge of food distribution. How’s that for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat?”

“Good one, Mikey,” Ron said, wrapping his arms around his son.

“Thanks, Dad. I’d love to keep schmoozing, but the Pittsburgh/Baltimore game is about to start, and I don’t want to miss the pregame show.”

“Sure thing, Michael.”

Ron left the den and closed the door behind him. What’s the old joke? A Jewish boy’s bar mitzvah is when he realizes he is more likely to own an NFL team than to play on one.

Maybe there was hope for that boy yet.

By Larry Stiefel 

Larry Stiefel is a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics.

 

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