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Spiritual Trap Games

Thursday, 31 May, 2012 - 7:00 pm

Teams have a tendency to look past an opponent when preparing for a following game against a stronger opponent, or have a letdown after beating a tough opponent. In sports, the mantra of, “One game at a time!” and “The season begins and ends today,” are ways of preventing the trap game mentality.

A great athlete is one who always invests maximal preparation and effort no matter the opponent and regardless of recent success or failure.


In this week’s parsha of Naso (the Torah’s longest!) we find G-d’s instruction to the Kohanim to bless the Jewish people, as follows:

“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them: May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.”

Rashi, quoting the Midrash, explains that the meaning of “May the Lord bless you” refers to a blessing of your possessions (material wealth). “And watch over you,” means that thieves will not steal these very possessions. Human beings can give gifts. But they cannot assure the gift will remain yours. Only G-d can deliver the gift and promise that it won’t be stolen.


Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, explained that this blessing does not only pertain to spiritual possessions. He points out that the Midrash also refers to the soul as a possession, albeit a spiritual one.

In this vein, he interprets the verse as also promising spiritual success. If you invest effort and energy into Torah and mitzvos – G-d guarantees it will pay holy dividends.

But what then is the meaning of the latter part of the verse?

This, he continues, is the insurance against spiritual trap games. 

Often, we are preparing for a spiritually critical moment. Perhaps we are getting ready for Yom Kippur, a Bat Mitzvah or a Jewish milestone. Unfortunately, many days, hours and opportunities can slip by unrecognized by the rhythms of our soul. We are too busy planning for the big event!

Or we might have just celebrated a moral victory or a great festival. We are so busy reveling in our sacred triumph that we become oblivious to or lackadaisical in other responsibilities.

Emotions developed in the performance of a mitzvah might be beautiful in the confines of sanctity. But say you just finished overcoming temptation by chastising the animal within. Suddenly, a total stranger asks you for directions. The holy vexation you directed to the evil inclination is now in danger of arriving at this stranger’s doorstep.

Spiritual thievery consists of robbing elements of holiness and utilizing them for unholy purposes.

If we allow our preoccupation with holiness to harm ourselves or others, we have not protected holiness. It’s easy to fall into the spiritual trap game mentality.

Thank G-d for His blessings conveyed by the Kohanim. It’s an insurance policy we better sign up for.

Comments on: Spiritual Trap Games

Russell Hayes wrote...

Great analogy, and great Blog. This is my first time at your Blog.