#HakhelHalftime kick ur game up a notch, transform #Superbowl50 into opportunity for group inspiration. #SB50 Big screen big game big idea!

Why #SuperBowl over #WorldSeries? It all hangs on only one game, everything matters so much more. Make things matter! #HakhelHalftime #SB50

These are sample ideas. Read it first, absorb the concept. Make it your own – or use your own inspirational football thought. Either way – don’t read it. Share it in your own words!

I started these thoughts off as Tweets (below in Italics) and expanded on each of them below.

If you choose to video (that’s optional) your presentation/sharing of your #HakhelHalftime insight, please tag your online post with that hashtag and you will be entered to win a giftcard. Another Superbowl Win!


(A1) Ideally a passrush sacks QB but even distraction/pressure is success. Realizing & resisting that can be key to the battle. #HakhelHalftime

There’s tremendous pressure in the Superbowl. Every play can be the defining moment that changes everything. Aside for physical skill and great game strategy, a QB must have tremendous mental powers, to focus on the play and not let the pressure (especially from a pass-rush) distract him from executing the play.

Jewish tradition speaks of the Yetzer Hora, the evil inclination, which seeks to stop our spiritual advance, and intercept our efforts. He’s not always going to get a sack, but that doesn’t deter him. He’s satisfied if he gets us distracted or frustrated enough to throw us off kilter, to keep us from being our best.

We have to realize his game plan, and anticipate it. We have to build up enough mental fortitude to keep focus, eyes on the game, not let it get to us. Tanya speaks of “Mind should rule the heart” try to ensure that what we know and feel are in sync, that intellect govern the emotion and not vice versa. Don’t get carried away, there’s a goal, we’re on a mission!

(A2) You can’t see a line of scrimmage but it holds you back. Once the play begins, the line is gone. Action cures inhibition. #HakhelHalftime

Line of scrimmage is a metaphor here (like all of these football messages). It’s that imaginary line that we’re afraid to cross, that next step we are uncomfortable making. Everyone has these lines in their head and in their life.

But once the play begins, that line is gone. The best way to cure ourselves of that imaginary line, that vaunted ceiling…  is action. Once we go ahead and take the next step, while it might not be easy, we’ve done it.

A Mitzvah is a good example of this. We think, we’re not sure, you procrastinate… but then you just go ahead and do it. Like Nike says, “Just Do It!”

(A3) Touchdowns are the goal but small yardage one-down completions are part of the plan. It’s not always about distance. #HakhelHalftime #SB50

Some people think it is, but the Rebbe insists that Judaism is not all or nothing. Every Mitzvah is a connection.  613 may be the goal, but each and every Mitzvah is a completed play.

A group of college students in the 1960’s asked the Rebbe if he would consider them good Jews. The Rebbe answered using Jacob’s Ladder: A Jew on ladder rung #2 looking upward is a better Jew than one on rung #612 looking down. Every Mitzvah is a step. Each rung is its own accomplishment.

If you haven’t yet seen Al Pacino’s “Inch by Inch” speech from “Any Given Sunday” go look it up on YouTube. Alumnus Matt H. used to always refer to this motivational message at Superbowl time. Inch by Inch!

(A4) No one aside for Panthers want a blowout #SB50 bcuz a good game has struggle & challenge. See Tanya’s Beinoni, 15 & 30. #HakhelHalftime

Tanya, the classic early text of Chabad Chassidism, spends a lot of time on the “Beinoni” – the Jew who struggles, it isn’t easy, it doesn’t come naturally, his/her life is filled with challenges, there’s tension in feeling torn and pulled in different directions – you get the idea.

Or as the Rebbe puts it – “Beinoni” isn’t just a type of person, because there’s “Beinoni” in each of our lives. In some areas we have it easy, or have a natural aptitude for success, in other areas we struggle and feel challenged, it feels like we’re fighting an uphill struggle.

But G-d is most interested in the service of the “Beinoni”. That’s where life is most interesting, that’s what brings out the deepest part of ourselves. While everyone wants their team to win, no one enjoys watching a blowout game, the tension and uncertainty are a big part of the excitement and sense of earned accomplishment.

(A5) An overtime win needs more points, has to more decisive, if it is that close you really have to prove yourself. #SB50 #HakhelHalftime

Like they say, “Go Big or Go Home!”

It’s OK to eke by a win by a point or two.  A win is a win. But when it’s a tie that takes it into overtime, a point or two isn’t going to cut it. You have to go the extra mile, you have to make that win distinctive!


(B1) Is football the only pro sport to have separate athlete teams for offense & defense? What could be learned from this? #HakhelHalftime

In some way football’s separate players for offense & defense recalls Tanya 34’s joy & tears quote from Zohar. #HakhelHalftime

Tanya 34 explains how its normal to have mixed feelings or contrasting reactions about our Judaism or any area of life, because we are complex multifaceted beings. We have different parts and aspects of ourselves, so its OK and not hypocritical if part of us feels connected and part of us feels disconnected, or part of us finds joy in something and part of us finds it frustrating or disappointing. As different as these feelings are, they are both real and both part of who we are.

It’s not Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, because these two very different parts of us are on the same team.  Having different athletes – on the same team – for offense and defense, teaches us this point. You can have very different strengths and styles and focuses, as long as you’re part of the same team.

(B2) Also in football a big part of the offense is actually defending the line. Yet that push back is part of the effort forward. #HakhelHalftime

#HakhelHalftime: Offense VS Defense recalls Rebbe insight to signs of Kosher fish: FINS propel, SCALES protect. We need both in our Judaism.

Mitzvot have two categories: The Do’s and Don’t’s. The Do’s are more fun, of course, but the don’ts play an important role, too. The don’ts aren’t as attractive, but define parameters, set the tone and create the setting.

Take Passover for example: eating Matzah and having a Seder are the positive action Mitzvahs, but not eating Chametz sets the holiday apart and makes it different.

Jewishly – offense vs. defense is an important question. Judaism is filled with both offensive and defensive Mitzvot. Shabbat is another example: Kiddush, Prayer and Shabbat meals and enjoyment are examples of offensive (well, not offensive in that sense..) Mitzvot; while abstaining from weekday activities and certain forms of prohibited work would be considered defensive Mitzvot.

Some Jews put much more emphasis on offense, but not put as much into their defense. They do a lot of good, but don’t defend and protect their Judaism. Others are very protective and defensive, but aren’t as forward, active and positive. The Rebbe addresses this in a 1941 note (part of the “Reshimos” notebooks found in his desk after his 1994 passing) using the law of Kosher fish. A Kosher fish must have fins and scales. Fins propel a fish forward – they help with navigation and movement, while scales are a form of armor to defend and protect the fish. To be Kosher, says the Rebbe, we need to have both.

This need for both Jewish offense and defense is especially critical for those on the front-line of Jewish survival, like on a college campus. Both approaches are incredibly important to incorporate into our lives and perspectives, each person according to their level and circumstance.

(B3) All the more meaningful knowing that the offensive line can’t advance the ball, only enable others to do it. #HakhelHalftime

#MVPs are an incredible asset but teams win games. Very appropriate for #HakhelHalftime to focus on power of unity & community. #SB50

This is true for teams and for communities, in friendships and relationships. It’s true in movies, too. Not everyone needs to make the touchdown or steal the limelight to be important. Being a support for someone to help them shine or succeed is in itself a great success.

Like members of a football team, every single person on this earth has their own mission. Everyone is needed, each of us play a role. The Baal Shem Tov taught that a big part of our soul’s mission is to be there for others. He said that its possible for a soul to descend to this world for 70 or 80 years just to do a favor for another.


Running vs Passing. Same destination. Difference: Whether you meet the ball there or carry it with you all the way. #HakhelHalftime #SB50

The goal is to move the ball 100 yards and get it into the end-zone. But there are different ways to get the ball there. You can run with the ball or pass it, and you have only a certain amount of tries to get that done.

Running with the ball means you have to hold the ball tight as you advance, never losing hold of it. Passing is different in that you run out without the ball, and may only make that contact for a few moments. But that catch advances the ball to where you are now.

It’s another way of looking at a Mitzvah – a good deed. Some people may be immersed in it, and connected with it, joined at the hip and doing it all the time – like a running game.

Others may be running about without the ball – without that good deed constantly with them – but looking for opportunities to make that contact. And when they make contact, when they make that catch, even if it is just for a couple of seconds, that moves it all forward – like a passing game.

So don’t dismiss or belittle a one-time, infrequent or intermittent Mitzvahs. Each one can go a  long way… as long as you make that catch!

(D) The QB’s in #SB50

Verses speak of Jews both as an eldest firstborn & also as a youngest darling. Think of this year’s QB contrast in #SB50! #HakhelHalftime

Experience brings a lot to the field, so does youthful energy & a fresh start. #SB50 wont prove it but may show it. #HakhelHalftime

Peyton Manning returns to the Superbowl, for his last game in a long storied career. He’s been playing professional football since 1998. He’s a five-time league MVP, a Superbowl champion, he’s one of the game’s best known players and an all-time great quarterback.

Cam Newton is the new kid on the block. He was born a year after Peyton was the first-round draft pick for the Colts. Peyton played a dozen years of professional football before Cam’s rookie year in 2011. And in his rookie year he’s been blazing, breaking all-time records.

There’s a lot to be said for experience. There’s wisdom and insight gained from playing season after season, Peyton’s eyes have seen a whole lot more than Cam’s eyes have.  But there’s also a lot to be said for youthful vigor and a fresh new look at the game.

Judaism focuses a lot on respecting our elders and their cumulative years of wisdom and life’s experiences. But Judaism also values our youth, and puts much emphasis on education and the incredible potential of what young people can accomplish.

At the crossing of the Sea, Moses may have been best informed and on closest speaking terms with G-d, but the Midrash tells us that the young children were the ones who recognized G-d first, pointing out “This is our G-d.”

(E) Student Thoughts from Superbowl 49 at Shabbos House


It’s no easy feat getting to the Superbowl. The teams getting there have many accomplishments and wins to their credit. It’s easy to get carried away and think that you are on top of the world. But once you get to the Superbowl, its just another game – albeit with much higher stakes and a huge global audience. The Seahawks may have won last year, but this year they have to earn it and fight for it all over again. True, the Patriots are an amazing team with many trips to the Superbowl, but you can’t rest on past accomplishments. They have to go out on to the field, face their opponents and play the game from start to finish. So, don’t rely too heavily on what you have done until now. Every day is a new challenge, new experiences, new opportunities. It’s a humbling experience to start from first down all the time.

On the other hand, its too easy to ignore and forget accomplishments and achievements that ought to be recognized and appreciated. “No one remembers the kicker.” The kicker plays important roles, if he messes up, no one will ever forget that. But if he does his job, he’s kind of taken for granted, no one will say the kicker won the game. We may not always get the credit we deserve, but that shouldn’t keep us from doing what needs to get done.

(E2) ERIC K.

A good football team is made up of different position players, each with their own strengths and abilities. It takes everyone pulling together, each in their own way to make all the individual efforts a group success. It’s like that with our Minyan at Shabbos House, too. One person has a good voice and is good at leading the service, another is strong to lift the Torah no matter which side is heavier, another is so focused and attentive and always knows what page we’re on, someone else is dependable and reliable to help make 10… so it takes everyone together to make the Minyan, and realizing everyone’s unique strengths and contributions is what ties it all together. The same is also true with many other aspects of Shabbos House, not only religious prayer, it takes all kinds of people to make it happen.

(E3) GADI L.

The Superbowl is that one night a year, that so many Americans, from east coast to west coast, regardless of their interest in sports or how much they watch football all year, get together in front of a TV, whether in bars or at freinds or family, to watch the same game. It’s a unifying experience. That makes me think of Shabbos. All week long we each pursuing our own studies or hobbies or interests, working or relaxing, everyone on their own schedule, doing their own thing. Then comes Shabbos. We all gather here on a Friday Night, sit down and all experience Shabbat dinner together. No matter whatever else we have going on in our lives, Shabbat dinner is like the Superbowl of our week, it brings us together.



We have Mini-Tzedakah boxes coming along with the food packages, to kickoff (pun intended) an “inch-by-inch” (as Al Pacino says) daily, habit-forming Mitzvah routine. We know most people don’t have change these days, everything’s on a card, but its a great way to do a hands-on Mitzvah each weekday (not on Shabbat or holidays of course) and believe it or not – all that change adds up (as the Talmud points out). Once its full you can donate it to any worthy cause of your choice.