Dvar Torah: Rosh Hashanah lessons from baseball

Jordan Fields, Staff Writer

In the movie, Field of Dreams, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears the words, “If you build it, he will come,” accompanied by a vision of a baseball diamond.  Skeptics doubt his dream, but with hard work and patience, Kinsella realizes his mission to build a baseball field in his cornfield, which ultimately leads him to renew his relationship with his estranged father.

The movie comes to mind as we move into our new school after many years of planning, development, fundraising and construction.  Kinsella changed his destiny by following his dream to build a baseball field on his farm. Will our lives be altered with the transition to our new school home?  If so, how will we change, and who is the “he” who will come?

Change will depend on us as individuals, and the extent to which we, as students, utilize to the fullest the school we are lucky enough to attend.  As we shape our identities through our studies and experiences, we will discover the “he” or “she” who will come — our future selves.

In the new campus, we should establish personal goals. Setting and attempting to meet goals is particularly important as Rosh Hashanah approaches.  To make real change, however, we should set manageable goals for ourselves. As Emuna Braverman of Aish Hatorah writes in her article, “The New New Year,” change happens slowly, incrementally over long periods of time. The accomplishment is in the persistence, in the ability to continue to look ahead, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

Today, in an age of immediate gratification, we expect everything to happen at once.  We receive our information instantly, we communicate with our friends within seconds on our cell phones, or change channels with the push of a button.  However, when it comes to changing ourselves we should not expect results immediately.  Change requires time and patience.

The fictional Ray Kinsella did not build his baseball field overnight, and as all who were at the JCC last year certainly know, Shalhevet’s new building took more than one year to build and several years to plan.  However, Kinsella’s ball field and our new campus are beautiful and meaningful.  We should learn from these examples and realize that we must be thoughtful and persistent as we work hard to achieve our goals.   Studying for an extra hour or two for a test, reading for 10 more minutes each night, challenging ourselves to try out for a co-curricular, or participating in a chesed project can build confidence and help turn our own dreams into realities.  Choosing a particular prayer to focus on during davening can improve our spirituality.  With patience and consistency, taking small steps can lead to real growth and lasting change.

As we walk the halls of Shalhevet admiring this new creation, we should remember the steady and hard work that made this structure a reality.  At Rosh Hashanah we must vow to improve ourselves, but do so patiently and with purpose.  As Ms. Braverman writes in her article, “True growth and change, true closeness to the Almighty comes about in those small, consistent steps.”