For the week ending 30 August 2014 / 4 Elul 5774

Twistifications and Triplifications

by Rabbi Nota Schiller
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Thomas Jefferson wrote of John Marshall: “A crafty chief judge. His twistifications in the case of Marbury, in that of Burr, and the Yazoo case show how dexterously he can reconcile law to his personal biases.”

In the 1953 Dodger-Yankee World Series, with Carl Furillo and Gil Hodges on first and second, Billy Cox bunted to advance them to scoring position. Oddly enough, when Yogi Berra barreled out from behind the plate, instead of throwing to first base he threw to third. Every coach, manager, player, and knowledgeable fan knows that the runners that are already on base break with the pitch. The batter must wait until he swings or bunts; hence it was a blatant misjudgment to throw to third. Yet that is what Berra did, and, lo and behold, Gil Hodges was called out by the third base umpire Artie Gore. Later viewing of the films confirmed that Hodges was safe by a great margin; yet the call stood.

Sports writers, analyzing the play, debated and proffered all kinds of explanations for what had happened. One pundit put it, “Berra simply saw that Gore had already called Hodges out and so he threw to third base!” …The Dodgers were Gored.

Since any U.N. endorsed commission has already called Israel “out” they might as well appoint Schabas as an umpire who is not suspect of allowing the facts to interfere with his conclusions. The Talmud (Shabbos 88) describes Israel as a nation that abounds in “Threes”. Three Forefathers, three segments of its People - Cohen, Levi, Yisrael – and of the Torah – Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim. This Torah was given in the third month – Sivan – by Moses, the third born in his family. Triples are the rarest of hits and our history confirms that we, our friends, and our enemies intentionally or otherwise validate that rareness. Though we often make it to third, too frequently they call us out even when we are really safe. It happened and is happening at third base!

Where are the commissions on Afghanistan, Iraq, not to speak of Libya, China, Sudan, Egypt, et al.? How many of these countries have collaborated and tolerated “cruel and unusual” punishments to enemies and their own citizens to achieve their goals?

Was Robert’s Rules of Order the manual for Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Isn’t there abundant evidence of the terrorist regime that occupies Gaza regularly gunning down unarmed protesters, using human shields, especially children, to protest their vile, murderous acts? And testimony of reporters, who admit that they were, and are, threatened not to reveal the truth?

Maybe we could Skype in UN members to shivah homes of the likes of the Yifrach, Shaar and Frenkel families and the Fogel Family, (parents Udi and Ruth and three of their children Yoav (11), Elad (4) and Hadas (3 months) who were murdered in their beds in Itamar). And what of 67 young men in the prime of their lives, many of whom in fact risked and gave their lives to minimize civilian casualties. And sadly so much more.

Maybe, instead of the Iron Dome, we should catch the rockets regularly aimed at our civilian populations, gift-wrap them and mail them special delivery to members of the Commission: as exhibit “A” for absurd anti-Semitism.

Twistifications and Triplifications! Triples are the rarest of baseball hits. Even that part of our People who yearn for worldly applause so often suspect that we and our history testify to that intended uniqueness of the Jewish Mission Statement. Baseball, like Jewish history, runs counter-clockwise. Yet, as long as there are apologists on the streets that yearn to run a politically-correct-clockwise beginning from third to first - rejecting our counter-clockwise tradition - after all “the right-handed hitter is disadvantaged and loses a step when running to first; and so affirmative-action-baseball should allow him to run initially to third and round the bases clockwise”; collisions will be inevitable.

While we resist quantifying the present era in a Halachic sense, yet the deep-rooted feeling abounds that we have gotten closer to home, to third base. Paused, and poised to score, to come home. Yes, a pick-off play can also have a Gore-like umpire.

Flatbush like Borough Park, Williamsburg, and of course Jerusalem and Bnei Brak have Minyan Centers where, either on the clock (usually every 15 minutes) or every time ten Jews appear, a new Minyan can be formed. Be-kaftaned bearded Jews, clean-shaven professionals, blue-shirted electricians, Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Chassidim, Lithuanians... any kaleidoscopic formulation of scholars and laymen can work. My brother Mordechai recently told me that the gabbai at Rabbi Landau Minyan Emporium, while shaking his head bemoaned, “A two-state solution won’t work!”

While there are variations and styles of how to get to third base, to scoring position, yet five strikes to a hitter and six balls for a walk has never captured the imagination of the players. That could never corroborate the reach and stretch to our Continuity. Past and future. Game after game, contest after contest, as a visiting team we have honored those norms. Isn’t the vindication of our claim to coming home rooted in our cumulative past performance? Against all odds, for a few thousand years we have run those bases counter-clockwise perfecting excelling in those contests. We think because we ran them counter-clockwise. It has worked enough to get us to third base, to scoring position.

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