Religion and Sports
Champion of Judaism
But this time, something hit him. This time, Shlomo was not waiting around quietly anymore. This time, Alan had to listen. Because this time, the rabbi's words spoke directly to Shlomo through Alan and pulled on both their hearts.
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"He was talking about materialism. And materialism in your life can lead you to a very shallow existence. And you want that next thing. Once you get that next thing, you'll want another thing. It's just not going to fulfill you. And that's exactly where I was."
The very focus of Alan's life, the very things he was most interested in had suddenly been exposed for what they were. Teriyaki salmon and big houses suddenly didn't seem as exciting. And, surprisingly, the very Torah he had ignored for so long seemed more exciting than he had ever imagined.
Becoming a Mentch
Alan immediately jumped into this fresh experience. "I went to the next class, and he [the rabbi] gave me my first Chumash." As he went forward in his studies, Alan grew more and more focused. Slowly, internally, he helped Shlomo grow, he inspired himself through Torah, and learned "what is it going to do me. How is it going to hit me right in my gut and make me a mentch. How is it going to make me better." Suddenly, Alan began to notice Shlomo, and together, they worked to help each other grow.
"It was not until 2001 when I met a couple Chabad rabbis and I went to their homes for Shabbat. I started going to their houses more and more and more until it was almost every week." As Alan began to understand Shlomo, he did more and more to help Shlomo come alive. He realized he could take "this feeling of Shabbat and stretch it throughout the entire week."
And so, with this in mind, Alan, invited by a friend to come visit Israel, began to truly stretch out his inspiration, to truly invite Shlomo to share his life. "I got on an airplane and I put on a yarmulke," Alan finally let Shlomo out of his shell. From that day forth, Alan always wore a yarmulke. From that day forth Alan and Shlomo became true partners.
While Shlomo inspired Alan, Alan taught Shlomo how to be a champion. Alan "had been groomed with many, many years of discipline and work ethic and focus and sacrifice, to give things." Alan knew what it meant to work for the Ultimate Goal. And now, he was going to teach it to Shlomo.
Alan taught Shlomo how to prepare, how to get into game mode. He taught Shlomo that being a champion meant work. It meant preparation. Alan taught Shlomo that, "as a football player, it takes six hard days to prepare yourself properly for a game." Just as one of Alan's favorite coaches once taught him, Alan now told Shlomo, "You need to be dressed ready to go. You need to have your workout book with you." As Alan helped Shlomo, they both grew together. Every time they progressed, just as when Alan used to weight train, they became inspired. Every time they saw the results, they became more and more excited.