Invictus, The Rainmaker, True Grit


While this is the Shabbat that we will be reading Parshat Noah, it is also the Shabbat that many South Africans have been looking forward to, which will determine the  world championship in Rugby.

South Africa will be playing England this Shabbat in Japan. It reminds me of the day that South Africa played New Zealand for the 1995 World Rugby championship in South Africa. When I married in South
Africa, I was soon invited to watch a Cricket match, and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. Especially since in the middle of play, out came the tea trolley on to the field, and lo and behold, the match was stopped for afternoon tea. Quite different than what I was used to seeing in the US. But that is a discussion for another time.

Now I want to concentrate on Rugby. The game is somewhat similar to American football, because in Rugby a touchdown is known as a try, and there are extra points involved as well after the try is made, but other than that, the game has scrums and no time for huddles, the play is continuous.

But unlike Cricket, where we had many boys playing the game in our Shul and one Cricket player qualified for South Africa’s national team, Rugby is a more dangerous sport in my opinion, because to this day almost no player wears any kind of protective gear above his waist. For this reason it seems, Rugby is a game played by those who are well built and muscular which helps prevent injury during contact with other players. In other words, its not the type of sport a nice Jewish boy usually considers playing. Although I understand there could be other forms of Rugby which involve much less contact which some boys may consider playing.

The title of this Blog contains the names of three movies that all starred one actor named Matt Damon. And on this Shabbat where we read Parshat Noah, all three seem connected.

There is no time to analyze all three movies, just to say that its obvious the connection with Parshat Noah and the Rainmaker.

Also, Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. It is the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. Noah needed this in the face of the corrupt world he was living in, which G-d rescued him and family from by bringing on the flood and commanding Noah to build an ark. True Grit was a film directed by the Coen brothers.

But the last film, is the story of what took place on that Shabbos in South Africa when New Zealand played South Africa for Rugby’s World Cup. It was really what True Grit is all about. Nelson Mandela had just become President and it took True Grit on his part to try to make sure he did not offend anyone.

He had to convince blacks not to become angry with whites because of the Apartheid that infected the country, and it was Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon who did a super job getting that across to the viewing audience.

I was in Shul that Shabbat and the Rugby World Cup was on everyone’s mind.  Many fellow Shul goers remained in their seats knowing that their country was playing for the Rugby crown.

Unlike the 1965 World Series in Minnesota, I had no desire to run out of Shul, because the Rugby Stadium where the final was being played was only a few  kilometers away. And just as I suspected, as soon as the game was over we suddenly heard car horns honking and the shouting and screaming as fans poured out on to the street celebrating a South African Rugby victory.

But the biggest victor of all was Nelson Mandela, who turned a tense situation to his advantage and in reality it reminded me of the speech Martin Luther King made with his dream to be free at last. It really was a sight to see, blacks and whites marching and celebrating down the streets of Johannesburg together celebrating a victory as a nation.

To All South Africans wherever you may be, may your team be successful and bring home the Rugby World Cup against an English team that defeated New Zealand in the Semi Finals.

It will be a tough test, but it will be a test of True Grit.

Shabbat Shalom


About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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