A Modern Day Chanukah Miracle

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I feel it is incumbent upon myself to share with you miracle that I witnessed just last night, on the 5th night of Chanukah.

This is not just any miracle, but a fantasy football miracle. For those of you who have no interest in fantasy football, or simply do not understand it, I implore you to stay with me for a few minutes, because the message is beautiful.

My son and I are in a fantasy football league that I run, with 12 teams in the league. The way that it works is that each teams has a roster made of players we drafted. The statistics of each player on the team are tabulated, and whoever ends up with more points after the game, wins the matchup.

This past week, was the last week of the regular season– next week begins the 2 week playoffs consisting of four teams who rose to the top of the league, in pursuit of Fantasy greatness.

My son, who is a rookie to fantasy football, has been making an impressive run for the final playoff spot. He has been sitting in 4th place, holding on to the precious final playoff spot for dear life. Last week he defeated the #1 seed by one tenth of a point. This week, he was facing off with a fellow in the #5 seat, one game behind him. The winner of this matchup, would go on to the playoffs, and the loser would go home. For what it is worth, I finished in 12th place.

Going into last night’s epic matchup between the Ravens and the Browns, my son was ahead by about 9 points. He had the Baltimore Ravens defense on his team, and his worthy opponent had Justin Tucker, the incredible kicker from the Ravens.

As the game progressed, my boy held on to a lead– a lead that was shrinking quicker than the president’s lead on election night. With about a minute to go, my boy had a 3.5 point lead. As the Ravens drove down the field, playing for a game-winning field goal, we were hoping the field goal would be between 30-39 years– netting his opponent 3 points, which would be .5 points short. To our chagrin, the Ravens settled for a 55 yard attempt– if made, would net my son’s challenger 5 points, and a ticket to the fantasy football playoffs. To our horror, Justin Tucker, nailed the field goal, with only a few seconds left, sending my distraught boy home packing. As we updated the fantasy football screen on my phone, it showed he was down by 1.88 points. What a way to go out.

But then, with two seconds on the clock, the Browns started lateraling the ball backwards, hoping one of their players would find a seam, and burst down the field for a last second touchdown. But alas– it was not meant to be– and they were ultimately stopped in their own end zone, for a two-point- safety, which in the grand scheme of things in the game was absolutely meaningless. However, because my son had the Baltimore Defense playing for him, those two points, netted him two points, and a .12 victory, and birth into the playoffs. In the end, he made the playoffs because of two victories the past two weeks by a combined total of .22 points.

There are two profound lessons I want to highlight about this miraculous run.

The first lesson I would like to point out, is that in life, the small things matter. My son won two critical games which were a pre-requisite for his playoff birth by the margin of .22 points. That is absolutely absurd. If one little detail was off– if a player on his team got only a few less yards, or his kicker kicked one less field goal or extra point, he might go on to lose both those games, and miss the playoffs like his Pops. In life sometimes it feels like the small details don’t, or shouldn’t matter. Does it really matter if I show up on time? Does it really matter if I spellcheck the email? Does it really matter if I write the thank you card? If I say thank you to the barista at Starbucks? Does it really make a difference if I take an extra scoop of ice cream? Or, on a religious level, if I say a blessing before I take bite out of my food, pray three times a day, or put on my tefillin? But as a .22 margin of victory over two games teaches us– those little details indeed make all the difference.

The second lesson, is that a person can NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER give up hope. With two seconds left on the clock and down 1.88 points, it would be very easy to give up. The odds of my son winning the matchup at that point were probably considerably less than 1%. But a person can never give up. Miracles can happen. Sometimes, they are fantasy football miracles, and less significant in the grand scheme of things, but miracles nonetheless. This showed me that even when an outcome looks like an all out certainty, one can never lose hope, because miracles can, and do happen. Over 2000 years ago when our forefathers came back into the defiled, desecrated Temple and saw one jug of pure oil, it would have been easy to be down, and depressed. But miraculously, against nature, the oil lasted for 8 nights. Leading up that incredible miracle, it would have been easy for the Hasmoneans to throw in the metaphorical towel in their fight for religious freedom against the Greeks. But even when the odds are firmly stacked against us, and the “experts” are warning of our demise, miracles can, and do happen.

And against all odds, as my 12 year old marches to the playoffs, we can all bask in this modern day Chanukah miracle.

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