Soccer 'gematria'

Manchester United at play. Numbers matter.

Manchester United's 7-1 victory over Roma in their UEFA, Champion's League second leg encounter was sensational in virtually every respect. There is, however, one aspect of this result which is equally spectacular, but has gone totally unnoticed. The game played at Old Trafford and the "Old Testament" demonstrate a remarkable statistical and meaningful correlation, and in particular with the current Jewish calendar. The game was played on Tuesday, April 10, in the Diaspora, which means that the game took place there on the eighth and last day of Pessah. Besides the fact that this correlates with the eight goals scored in the game as well as Manchester's eight goal aggregate for the two games, there are two other even more wonderful connections. We are now in the period of counting the Omer, the time during which the Jewish people give expression to the spiritually significant 49-day period before the Israelites received the Torah on Mount Sinai. Tuesday, the day the match was played, was the seventh day of the Omer. All over the world the Jewish people were counting seven - the same number of incredible goals which Manchester put in the net against Roma, and the seven goals which their fans all over the world counted, as they watched this amazing game of football. THE FOLLOWING day, Wednesday April 11, was the 8th day of counting the Omer. However the night before, the Jewish people begin the count of the 8th Day. This of course equals the total of eight goals scored (seven by Manchester United and one by Roma) in the game, as well as Manchester's eight goal aggregate for the two encounters (having lost 2-1 in the earlier game). Just when I thought that these were interesting coincidences, I received a mail, entitled "Shemini" which is the Hebrew word for "The Eighth." I nearly fell on my face. I realized that this was the name of this week's Torah Portion: "The Eighth." I asked myself if all this added up to pure coincidence, or maybe something else was at play here? What bowled me over completely was the significance of the word "eighth" in the context of the Torah Reading. After describing the events of the day on which the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary built by the people of Israel in the Sinai Desert, was inaugurated and the seven-day preparation period, the weekly portion opened with the line: "On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel." According to the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the seven days of dedication represent man's efforts to refine our environment, an objective within man's capacity. And by carrying out this objective a setting is created for the revelation of the eighth day, the transcendent light. The number seven defines the natural reality, while eight represents that which is higher than nature, the circumference that encompasses the circle of reality. Whichever way you count this, the eight goals in the match, or Manchester's magical eight-goal aggregate, this historic game of football will certainly be a transcendent light that will shine for many years to come as an example of divine football. The writer is an English teacher living in the Galilee.