To cheat or not to cheat, is it really a question?
We are told on a consistent basis that cheaters never prosper.
Sorry, but it is. Cheaters prosper all the time, well at least financially.
I bring this up in part because of what occurred with Israel’s favorite football team, the New England Patriots.
The Patriots’ history of cheating is pretty well known, but nevertheless let’s go through a quick review.
#1 In 2007, coach Bill Bellechick was fined $500,000 for his role in Spygate, the Pats lost a 1st round draft pick, and the evidence of the incident (the tape) was destroyed. I’m not making this up.
#2 In 2015, Tom “terrific” Brady forgets how a football normally feels, and after trying to blame the ball boy for using a deflated football in the AFC title game (I’m sure this was the first time this occurred ;)) is given a 4-game suspension, which after multiple appeals culminated this season.
#3 Patriots receiver Aaron Hernandez committed double murder, but hey, stuff happens like that, right?
Now, not to be outdone, the Pats (cough) I mean a young 25-year-old man decided to pile on the fun.
Last Sunday, New England was victorious over the Steelers in the AFC title game. Last Saturday night a 25-year-old Bostonian
was victorious in somehow and someway penetrating through Steelers security (all by himself, by the way) and waking up the team with a false fire alarm in the middle of the night.
It’s interesting that in sports history (and you can look it up) such a thing has rarely occurred and somehow a 25-year-old did it by himself with no help (wink).
Now, I know people in Israel love to kiss Bob Kraft’s tukus — could be related to that whole 4.5 billion dollar net worth — but guess what, Bobby K. stills owes me money, so I don’t have to kiss his butt and can use what happened over the weekend to address a very interesting theological issue.
With all due respect to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the rest of the Atlanta Falcons, the Patriots are going to win their 5th championship on February 5th, and thus the age-old question can come up, why is it that cheaters prosper, or a better way to say it, why do good things happen to bad people and why do bad things happen to good people?
As on Oleh, I can relate to a concept many olim deal with when moving to Israel from the United States. We came here for religious, spiritual/ ideological reasons to discover that non-cheating is not the way things are done here.
What Americans view as “nice” and “fair” many Israelis view as “friar” or “sucker.” I have lived in Israel for 9 years and could write a nice long book on all of the corruption I have seen. If I would write such a book, I would deal with an American publisher, as I’m sure an Israeli publisher would screw me out of a lot of money. Just kidding! Sort of.
The idea of moving to Israel for moral reasons only to find mass “unethical” issues is perhaps as bothersome as trying to deal with why good things happen to bad people and why bad things happen to good people.
Judaism has a few ways to try to explain this phenomenon.
#1 A verse in the Torah, Deuteronomy 32:41, states, “I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me.” The verse at a glance sounds strange, as why would G-D reward people that hate Him? The Rabbis learn from this teaching that it means that G-D may actually give a bad person good things in this lifetime so He does not have to give good things in the Afterlife. Thus, the inverse can be learned out regarding good people.
#2 The 11th principle of faith regarding the Rambam states that G-D will reward all of those who observe His commandments and punish those who do not keep His commandments. One could learn out that even if a bad person is doing well at the present time, he will eventually get his (or hers; hey, it’s 2017, right?).
#3 Reincarnation. Believe it or not, reincarnation is actually a mainstream belief in Judaism. Why it’s considered a belief to only be found in Hinduism or other faiths is intriguing, but nevertheless, you don’t have to consider yourself weird if you actually believe in Gilgulim (reincarnation), as it is discussed quite at length in the Talmud. Thus, a bad person in this lifetime may be rewarded for things he/she did in a previous life, which can be another way to explain apparent injustice before one’s eyes.
#4 Undeserved merit. The Torah mentions in the Ten Commandments that G-D will bless the descendants of those who follow His commandments for 1,000 generations. So theoretically, a bad person can get some type of reward merely based on his lineage. The Rabbis also discuss a person can obtain merit merely from his neighborhood and the city he/she lives in.
So with all due respect to the Rabbis, I would like to add on one more concept.
People tend to gravitate to those who are like them, or perhaps to those they would want to become.
If you are a cheater, then you are going to have cheater friends.
Michael Corleone summed this up best at the beginning of Godfather 2.
After surviving an assignation attempt, the new Godfather was asked by an adviser if one his own men tried to kill him.
“Our people our businessmen, their loyalty is based on that.”
If you think you are going to be friends with a cheater and they are going to cheat everyone around you but not you, you are sadly mistaken. If you haven’t been cheated by a cheater friend yet it is because they have not had an opportune time to do so.
I want to end this article with some positivity as I spoke about some dreamy negative stuff.
Yes it is true I have been screwed in Israel as all Olim have and even all Sabras have to tell you the truth, but I also have met some really good people here as well and I will enjoy the good people in my life.
Maybe the answer to all of this is to do your best to surround yourself with good people. We are only human can not know everyone’s’ thoughts, but at least we can aim for goodness.
Also, it is true cheaters do win, but that doesn’t mean I have to root for them.
Even though they are going to lose, let’s go Falcons!
To find out more about Ari Louis, find him on Facebook under the name Ari Louis.