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 I recently read an article that featured an interview with a famous and gifted American baseball player. Most athletes when they are questioned or interviewed by the media respond almost like robots with clichés and nice-sounding phrases, which mean absolutely nothing. This athlete in the interview was asked what great benefit he derived from his career in baseball. Instead of the usual answer about teamwork, setting goals, competing fairly and other such noble ideas, this athlete answered that after playing professional baseball for 15 years, the greatest lesson was that it taught him how to lose.

Most people expect that somehow there is a magic formula that will teach them how to win. However, life, like baseball, is really all about learning how to lose so that one can eventually win in the overall perspective of the game of life. From our earliest infancy we are really trained to lose. No matter how spoiled the child may be, he/she will always confront many instances of losing and denial at home, at school and at play.
In my childhood days, I remember that the greatest insult one could receive from one’s fellow classmates or teammates was that one was a poor loser. Somehow, deep within us is the recognition and even a desire regarding losing nobly and fairly. In fact, the entire psychology of human beings in proclaiming what they considered to be a moral victory, is based on the idea that many times losing is more important and more valuable than winning.
In the long run of history, the Jewish people could certainly be counted as being losers rather than winners. No people had quite as difficult and painful a history as the Jews. Most of our history was spent in exile from our homeland and dispersed throughout the world. Persecution and discrimination, poverty and permanent uncertainty were the accepted lot of Jew. Nevertheless, the Jewish people remained unaccountably optimistic about its ultimate future and continued to be most influential in the affairs and evolution of civilization. Though we did not win in material and territorial terms, we felt ourselves to be winners in the world of spirit and human progress.
Baseball players fail 65 to 75 percent of the time. Nevertheless, it is their accomplishment when they learn from that experience why they failed and what they can do to attempt to correct that failure that makes the game so fascinating and the setting for the human drama that it is.
The prophets of Israel always emphasize the failures of the Jewish people and admonished them to review those failures and to learn from them. Dwelling only on our victories and on our triumphs only leads to arrogance, hubris and eventually to greater disappointments and deceits. We find throughout the words of the prophets of Israel, details of our shortcomings and of our losing efforts, so that those errors will not be repeated in the future.
One of the great lessons of losing is the ability to recognize and accept the fact that we have lost. By so doing, we move on and make the necessary adjustments so that we do not become serial losers.
Our cousins, the Palestinians or at least the political leadership of the Palestinians, has yet to come to terms with the fact that they lost their opportunity to destroy the Jewish state 70 years ago. They are unable to move on and build for themselves a better and more peaceful society. This is a tragic situation, both for the winners and losers, for it guarantees continued strife over generations.
The rest of the world recognizes, whether officially or simply within the recesses of its inner heart and mind, that the demands of the Palestinians for Jerusalem, the right of return, and for other untenable demands, can never be met. History has decreed otherwise. By not accepting the reality of that decree, great harm is done not only to the state of Israel but to the Palestinians and their cause as well.
When sports teams are accustomed to winning, they find it very difficult to deal with the times that they, undoubtedly, face losses. The Jewish people, accustomed to losing but always resilient and hopeful, learned from their experience how to rise and create the Jewish state when they had the opportunity finally to win. This psychological state of mind should be kept in mind when we look at the diplomatic and military situations that we now face.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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