Shmuel Sackett
Shmuel SackettCourtesy

This past Shabbat, a person I didn’t recognize walked into my shul. I went over to him – as I try to do to all the guests – and said “Shabbat shalom and welcome to Herziliya. My name is Shmuel Sackett, where are you visiting from? His answer stunned me. “You are Shmuel Sackett? Wow! My wife and I read all your articles and are your biggest fans!” I immediately answered the following: “My dear friend. Thanks for the compliment but, with all due respect, I’m not looking for fans… I’m looking for people to join me on the team!”

I later explained what I meant. A “fan” is someone who watches from the sidelines. He/she cheers what’s going on and gets happy when things go right. On the other hand, when things go wrong, the fan becomes angry, upset and depressed. I have been to dozens of sporting events and am always amazed at how cheerful everyone is… when the team is doing well. People who you would never look at, are hugging you when the hometown favorite does something dramatic.

I was once at an NFL game and this beer-drinking, shirtless, tattooed guy with about 3 teeth - whose every sentence included words we try never to say – was jumping in my arms after our team scored the winning touchdown. The craziest part about it was that I thought it was perfectly normal for him to do that! (Weird!!) Compare that reaction, to when the home team loses the game on the last play. The stadium of 50,000 fans becomes silent and everyone walks to their car frustrated, with bent heads and gloomy faces.

That’s what happens when people are “fans”. Let’s consider now how a “player” reacts.

A ”player” is someone who is in the game. He is on the field and actively involved in doing what he can to win. He runs around, gets dirty and even risks injury as he puts everything he has into playing the game. When things are going well, he is happy - because he knows he is part of that success, but when things are not going well, he does not get depressed or angry… because that doesn’t help the situation. He talks to his coaches and teammates. He thinks of a new plan and strategy, and he works harder than ever to turn things around in order to emerge victorious. If he loses the game, he sits down and figures out what went wrong. In the coming days, he puts in a tremendous amount of effort so that the outcome of the next game will be different.

In short, a “player” does not watch the game… he lives the game.

This is the message I gave the young man who reads my articles and is my biggest fan. “Don’t be a fan”, I told him. “Get on the field and help me play the game!”

So much is happening in the Jewish world today and we cannot simply be spectators. Eretz Yisrael is growing and you need to be a part of that! Are you familiar with how Israel looked just 40 years ago? I studied in BMT (a Yeshiva in Jerusalem) in 1979 and the country looked like an American town in the 1800’s. Very few people had telephones or cars. The busses were old, hot and bounced on every rock. There weren’t many nice coffee shops and no shopping malls. No homes had air conditioners and almost none had televisions… and this was just 44 years ago! Since then, in just 4 decades, Israel has flourished and has become a modern, hi-tech, amazing country with every modern convenience imaginable.

If that is what happened in the last 40 years… do you realize what can be accomplished in the next 40?

Dearest friends; Eretz Yisrael and the Jewish nation are calling you, but we need you in the land… not in the bleachers cheering and waving a flag. We want you as a player in Jewish history… not as a fan studying about this in books. Come join us on the field and let’s win this game, once and for all!

Am Yisrael Chai!