The greatest thing for me as a kid was going to a Cubs game. To go to a double-header in the proper style, back in the day when the games started at 12:30, I'd awake at 05:30 to attend the earliest morning prayers in the neighborhood. A quick breakfast, a packed kosher lunch, and I'd run to the bus stop. The bus brought me to the El station, the El to Addison. Getting off there I'd scramble over to Wrigley's and join the line forming outside the entrance to the bleachers. In those days, you could go to any Cubs game without buying tickets in advance.

The bleacher tickets cost only one dollar. The seats were just hard beaches without anything to lean back on, far from the infield, without any shade – but they were the best. The grandstands were for the hoi polloi, the box seats for the rich hoi polloi, but the bleachers were for the cool dudes. The coolest of the cool definitely were those sitting in the left field bleachers. Right field was second best, center field was awful – but sit in left field, behind sweet-swinging Billy Williams back in the day, and you had it made in your shades without need for any shade.  

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The left field bleachers were an organized chaos. The beer was flowing; the grass was growing (not for underage kids); the self–appointed leadership was glowing. After a round of "cheers" they'd teach cheers, special for each game. I remember the fateful day when my attitude towards competition changed and was refined. The Cubs were playing the Houston Astros and this is the cheer they taught us:


"Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone – Astros eat it with a spoon.
With a spoon or with a straw – Astros eat it raw, raw, raw."

It wasn't Dickinson or Frost, and I particularly didn't like the vulgarity. However, what really bothered me was this: it said nothing confident to encourage the Cubs, it just was a crude put-down of the other team. It smelled more of hate for the other team than love for your own team, and hate really smells – especially in the heat of the bleachers on a Chicago summer day!

You can't really build anything beneficial and positive – with hate. That also goes for nation-building: you can't build a nation based on hatred directed at another group. You can only build on positive, forward looking dreams, ideals and aspirations. A love for all humanity and the desire to make the world a better place, for the benefit of all, is at the root of Jewish nationality.

The kingship was promised in the Torah to Yehuda (Judah), because he was the one who admitted his mistakes, confessed about Tamar, and had the courage to disregard his own honor and status in order to say: "She's right, I'm wrong".

If you ignore your mistakes and deny your errors – then you can never remedy the faults, never move yourself and your surroundings progressively forward. Seeking to discover the faults and problems in the world, with an eye to fixing them, is at the root of the Jewish nation, like Judah, after whom we are all called Jews.

It is the fact of reality that a nation cannot exist independently without an army and the will power to use it. But as King David said: "Even as I walk in the valley of the shadow of death – I fear no evil". Not only does he not fear that something evil will happen to him – but more so: he doesn't fear that fighting wars to defend the nation of Israel will cause him to become evil, consumed by hate.

We seek to keep hate out of our hearts  -  despite terrorism.

We seek to fix the world  -  with love in our hearts.

It is so very important! So I teach my students: cleanse your hearts of hate, even as soldiers! Nothing positive comes of the negative, and hate is negative. Love for all humanity, as part of the love for Israel, is a positive force; the will to better the world is the dream of the Jewish nation in its homeland.

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