For most nine-year-olds, a choice between playing Little League baseball and honoring a religious commandment would be an easy one to make: Mitzvot might be nice, and all, but when there’s a game on the line… well, you know. Not for Yossi, of Fountain Hills, Ariz. When an umpire told him he couldn’t take his turn at bat recently, he calmly tried to explain that the “illegal uniform” was a religious garment mandated by the Torah called tzitzit. The umpire, however, was unmoved, and ordered Yossi to remove the tzitzit for fear that “it could produce some type of interference or unfair advantage.” According to COL Live, Yossi –the only Jewish boy, not just on the team, but in the entire league– respectfully but assuredly walked off the field. In addition, Yossi’s team also volunteered to forfeit the game in solidarity with Yossi. Eventually, following a lengthy on-field meeting between the coaches and the umpire, Yossi was allowed to play, “double uniforms” and all. COL Live offered four lessons to be gleaned from Yossi:
- Tzitzit is a sign of Jewish pride.
- Religious tolerance means to refrain from discriminating against others who follow a different religious path.
- The freedom of individuals to believe in, practice, and promote their religion of choice without interference, harassment, or other repercussions shall always prevail.
- Ignorance and religious intolerance is still prevalent. The correct way to combat it is to wear “Jewish uniforms” – kippot, tzitzit – with pride.
The website also said that “self-assertion often demands a lot of humility. Doing something out of the ordinary requires putting our image on the line. It means that I care more about my truth than what other people think about me. This is self-esteem that is rooted in soul-consciousness.” It also cited a lesson from The Lubavitcher Rebbe about the relationship between the Torah and the value of humility.
“The Midrash tells us that God chose Mt. Sinai, and not a more impressive mountain, to teach us the value of humility. The question, of course, is this: If humility is paramount, why did G-d give us the Torah on a mountain at all? Why not a plain, or even a valley? The mere term “Mt. Sinai” is an oxymoron. It’s a mountain, towering and majestic. And it’s Sinai, meager compared to her sister mountains, humble. If humility is paramount, why did G-d give us the Torah on a mountain at all?
“When G-d gave us the Torah and inaugurated us into Jew-hood, He said, “You are going to need to be real strong to be a Jew.” Be a mountain. Have a backbone. Be a charismatic light unto the nations, and don’t give a hoot if people laugh at you. “But be a humble mountain. Humble in your recognition that your strength comes from G-d. Your life’s value is not about your image, it’s about your higher calling. Don’t measure yourself against the standards set by your neighbors; measure yourself against your soul’s potential,” said COL Live.