Without getting into the whole #DeflateGate scandal about the deflated footballs in the title game that sent the New England Patriots to the 49th Superbowl, and whether Coach Bill Belichek or QB Tom Brady are responsible, one thing I did learn from the whole media buzz that I never knew before: There’s an optimum and required inflation level for footballs. It appears that they need to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per inch.

What’s the life-message?

Judaism encourages a healthy balance that hovers between too much humility and too much confidence. The goal is to be humble, yet confident, to have pride but not arrogance. A good healthy self-esteem is crucial. Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski wrote “Let Us Make Man” all about this point, and we had a Torah-Tuesday at Shabbos House titled “Torah on Self-Esteem”.

Like the football, we can’t be too deflated or too inflated. The magical balance hovers somewhere right in between.

This also relates to Tu Bishvat, the Jewish New Year for Trees that’s celebrated this week, on the 15th of Shvat, usually late January or early February. True, no trees are yet in bloom, most are still in winter mode, but in Israel, this is the time of year that sap begins to flow again deep inside the trees and the cycle of rejuvantion and growth begins anew.

Us upstate NYers and neighbors in Vermont, know that maple-sugaring has a short optimum window at the end of winter when the nights are still cold but the days begin to warm, and that’s when the sap begins to flow. It’s like the Goldilocks Zone, the earth is right in that optimum place where its not too hot and near the sun, and not too cold and too far from the sun, but like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the porridge that is just right.

Tu Bishvat celebrates that optimum opportunity, that we need to take advantage of while we can.