The Chicago Cubs are my second favorite team in baseball. I moved to Chicago in the summer of 1967 right after the Six Day War. My hero was Sandy Koufax and I saw my Dodgers win three world championships and was proud that Koufax would not pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur.
My new friends in Chicago taught me what it meant to be a loyal baseball fan. The Cubs were perennial losers and have not won a World Series since 1908. In 2008, a die-hard fan said to me, “Okay, we had a bad century!” Now that it looks like the Cubs are winners and have a good chance this year of reaching their elusive dream, I thought that there are many Jewish lessons to be learned from the faithful Cubs fan.
The first lesson is optimism. Our holy Sages emphasize the importance of erasing negativity from our personalities. Being negative, pessimistic, or worrying do not yield any positive results. Optimism leads to enthusiasm and energizes a person. It allows him to function at a much higher level. “Wait until next year” has been said 108 times and it very well might be that the 109th could be the year of redemption.
Another lesson is learning to be happy with one’s lot in life. The Rabbis say that the truly wealthy man is the one who is happy with what he has. He is not jealous and is not interested in what others have. He feels blessed which fills him with love for the Al-mighty, who has provided him with all of his needs. I’ve been told by my friends from the Windy City, that the Cubs have had so many hall of fame players that they were fortunate to watch for so many years. They always manage to see the silver lining of each situation.
Loyalty is another praiseworthy attribute of the Cubs fan. We have been reading of the evil report of the ten spies, the rebellion of Korach, and the sin of the Golden Calf. All of these showed ingratitude to G-d and Moses. Yet, the Cubs fan sticks with his team. A lawyer friend once told me that he plans to have the words, “Cubs stink” on his tombstone, following his team until his dying day.
A very high level of worship is the concept of “YISURIM BE’AHAVA”, meaning, being able to accept suffering with love. This refers to an individual that despite the difficulties he’s going through, has the faith to realize that certain challenges are sent his way in order to strengthen him. G-d loves him and only wants his good and he is accepting of his fate. The Cubs fan accepts his fate in an admirable way as well.
Probably the most important lesson to be learned from the Cubs fan is faith. When one loses his faith, he loses his reason for living. Our faith has carried us through such a long and bitter exile. We never stopped believing that we would survive as a people and we would one day return to our sacred Land of Israel. Faith is representative of hope and a sincere belief that tomorrow will be a better day. G-d’s salvation can come like “the blink of an eye” and we must never stop believing.
Perhaps I’ve overdone it a bit in my praise of the Cubs fan and baseball is only a sport. But I think we are supposed to learn life’s lessons in every situation we are in. Would it be sacrilegious to say, “Next year in Wrigley!”