Shockey and Barber had both been offensive superstars for the Giants for years before the ’07 season. They both put up flashy individual statistics, but that didn’t translate into playoff victories for the Giants. Shockey and Barber negatively affected team chemistry by being “me first” players who loudly criticized teammates and coaches. But after Barber retired prior to the 2007 season and Shockey’s injury forced him to miss the playoffs, the Giants came together as a team.
Devarim 33:5 tells us, “And He was King in Jeshurun, whenever the sum total of the people were gathered, and the tribes of Israel were together.” Rashi, quoting the Sifri, comments, “When Israel is gathered together in a unified group, and there is peace among them, God is their King – but not when there is strife among them.”
Klal Yisrael can only be Hashem’s people when we are all working as a unified whole. Certainly each of us has a different role to perform and we need not always agree ideologically with one another. But as the Arizal tells us, the Jewish people share a collective soul. As the Days of Awe draw near, let us remember that one of the ways to merit a good judgment is to become an indispensable part of the community. One is then judged as part of a greater whole rather than as an individual.
As the new year for football and life is ushered in, let us truly become the greatest players we can be on Hashem’s team.
Rabbi Meir Goldberg is director of Rutgers Jewish Xperience at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He resides in Lakewood with his wife and children. He can be reached at Mgoldberg@RutgersJX.com.