One of the big stories of Superbowl LII is the contrast of the two quarterbacks in the biggest game of 2018: Tom Brady for the Patriots and Nick Foles for the Eagles.
Tom Brady is one of the best QB’s in all of NFL history, perhaps the best. He’s been to more superbowl games than anyone, has a long distinguished record of accomplishment and remarkable success. Contrast that with Nick Foles who wasn’t supposed to be the Eagles QB, he was their backup, their second choice, who stepped up mid-season after their starter QB Carson Wentz got injured and couldn’t play anymore. But while only a backup, he led them to great victories, including their last one against the Vikings, and here they are in the Superbowl.
Purim is coming up! Think Queen Esther. She wasn’t supposed to be the queen, but things fell into her lap once Queen Vashti sustained a career-ending injury with that fiasco at the king’s party. We love Queen Esther so much it is hard to think of her as a backup, but that’s how it was. She wasn’t the king’s first, original, ideal choice. As things turned out, she ended up as the heroine of the story, saving her people and giving us the joyous holiday of Purim. Who doesn’t love Queen Esther?
There’s a dramatic verse in the Megillah that QB Nick Foles would be thinking now, if he only knew his Megillah. Mordechai (the coach?) was asking Esther to please muster up the courage to confront her husband the king about Haman’s evil terrible decree against the Jews. When Esther hesitated at first, Mordechai told her, “Who knows if – or certainly for – this moment is why you became queen!?”
Look, I am no football maven. And I have no idea if Nick Foles will be the miraculous heroine Queen Esther that the Eagles need when they play the Patriots. So why am I sharing all this?
It’s because this is an important message for each of us in the games and superbowls of our lives. There are two ways we can get to the superbowls of our lives. One way is that we earn it. We work hard, we earn our way, we prove ourselves. That route depends heavily on our decisions, choices and efforts. The other way is that we get lucky, all kinds of variables align, it falls into our lap. This path also requires effort of course, Nick Foles didn’t get there by sitting on his couch, but circumstances beyond your control play a much larger role. This is true in all areas of life from landing a good job to making friends, to how you ended up at UAlbany. Often it is a combination of both paths.
But no matter the route, it is up to you to make the most of that opportunity. Whether it was a carefully plotted and executed route, or one that came across your path unexpected, it is up to us to make the most of it, to turn this golden opportunity into a success.
Sometimes people choose a leadership role in Jewish life. Sometimes it just lands in your lap. Either way we ought to give it our all, make the most of it, in a huge way.
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