The Yankees and Rosh Hashana

I don’t like the Yankees. I really don’t like the Yankees. But I will swallow my Red Sox pride for the moment, because I think the Yankees can teach us something important about Rosh Hashana.

The main theme of the Jewish New Year, as we find throughout the prayers, is Malchut. Malchut means kingship – we are meant to coronate God as our king on this day. We are renewing our relationship with Him, and reaffirming our commitment.

How do we coronate God?

The classic approach is by blowing the shofar, which resembles the trumpet blowing at any coronation. This is why the torah refers to Rosh Hashana as “a day of Terua”, a day of shofar blowing. The essence of the day can be found in the sounding of the shofar.

But there is another way, the Yankee way.

The Yankee players adhere to a strict policy regarding personal appearance. Long hair and facial hair are not allowed. In the past players were not allowed to have exposed tattoos.

Johnny Damon, on the Red Sox (left) and later on the Yankees (right)

What is the purpose of these rules? The Yankees players are supposed to respect the legacy and prestige of the Yankee organization. Each individual is expected to be more than just a ‘player on the Yankees’, he is supposed to ‘be a Yankee’. In order to accomplish this, the players must carry themselves differently than players on other teams.

The same can be said regarding the incarnation of God. In order to respect the King, we need to be a part of His establishment. Just like the Yankees, we need to feel like we are part of something historical, prestigious and meaningful.

In order to connect to this higher purpose, we need to carry ourselves accordingly. We need to be proud of who we are, and wear this pride on our sleeves. Each individual should strive to ‘be a Jew’, and not compromise and be ‘a Jewish person’. If we are merely ‘affiliated to Judaism’, we are essentially equating God’s establishment to the local Starbucks establishment. But if we decide to ‘be Jews’ and make Judaism our identity, part of our existence and purpose, we are testifying to God’s sovereignty and omnipotence.

About the Author
Yaakov Wolff is a soldier in the IDF. He made Aliyah from Boston to Beit Shemesh in 2007. Before joining the army he studied in Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh. He holds a degree in Middle East Studies from Bar-Ilan University.