A Golf & Art Meditation
Palm Beach Gardens. Florida is the “Golf Capital of the world” with more golf courses, per capita, than anywhere else on Earth. So many locals play golf religiously as they rub shoulders with the most famous golfers in the world. But, considering the incredible skill required to become a golf pro, is it really worth the effort?
When I asked this question to one of our members, his answer was a resounding yes. “The goal of the game is not perfection but improvement.” And it dawned upon me then that, in a classic portrayal of art imitating life, the game of golf represents precisely what it means to be a Jew.
When Moses constructed the Tabernacle—a sanctuary for G-d, he wanted only to include “perfect” items that felt holy, rejecting items that had unholy uses prior.
Hence, whilst he gladly accepted pure gold, silver, and precious jewels, he was reluctant to accept the donations of vanity mirrors of the women towards this holy endeavor. Moses felt that such items had no place in G-d’s holy sanctuary as they had been used prior for the purposes of marital seduction and enticement. Unlike a Torah, Tefillin, or Mezuzah, what place could such items have in a spiritual sanctuary of holiness? But G-d intervened and told him to accept them as they would be His most cherished item in the Temple.
It was these mirrors that the women used in order to encourage their husbands to procreate with them in Egypt despite the men’s hesitation of bringing more Jewish children into Egyptian slavery. The women understood that though it may seem bleak right now, G-d is capable of creating miracles and it will get better. Thus, these mirrors represent the imperfect journey we traverse that may seem insignificant, but in truth, they transform our destiny. They were ordinary items used for extraordinary purposes indicating G-d’s admiration and appreciation of our sincere efforts regardless of where we start from.
While Moses defined holy as perfect, G-d showed him that it’s really about effort. If golf was about perfection we’d never even, try. In much the same way, G-d isn’t expecting us to be perfect in our Yiddishkeit, He just wants us to keep trying. Like golf, one percent better every day—small changes over time lead to big results!
G-d is telling us that the person he considers holy isn’t necessarily the old complacent rabbi as much as the young entrepreneur who’s working on improving his connection with Hashem! If G-d wanted you to be perfect, He would have created you perfect. Get real—he wants you just the way you are! Everyone and everything are capable of becoming holy.
The story is told of a Jew visiting the Rebbe and complaining, “I’m tired of battling myself. What’s the point of my struggle if I’m not making any progress?”
The Rebbe asked the man what his profession was, and the man replied that he was a dealer of fine art to very wealthy customers. The Rebbe asked about a recent deal; the man explained that he sold a work of art called “Sunset,” a painting of a boy and girl walking on the beach at sunset, for ten million dollars.
The Rebbe asked: “Why do people spend such a fortune on a painting? They could have a photographer snap a picture of the same scene; it would cost far less, and the picture would be infinitely more accurate than any painting.
The man replied: “Rabbi, who’s looking for accuracy? People pay for the abstract version of the picture, for the artist’s creative interpretation and manipulation of the scene, even if it’s not accurate at all.”
The Rebbe smiled: “Listen to what you’re saying. Man was created in the image of G-d, and if you want to know what G-d appreciates, see what man appreciates. We aren’t nearly as excited by accuracy as we are by the unexpected, by the unique twist of the artist, and that’s what Hashem enjoys from us: when we take our challenges and weaknesses, and in a manner totally unexpected for a primal, base human being, transform them and turn them into a medium for Divine service.”
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens
6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
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