Torah For Today: The European Super League

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Torah For Today: The European Super League

Rabbi Alex Chapper takes a topical issue and looks at an Orthodox response

Tottenham Hotspur was one of the 'Big Six' contemplating joining the European Super League
Tottenham Hotspur was one of the 'Big Six' contemplating joining the European Super League

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.” So said the late Bill Shankly.

The recent crisis in football over the proposals for a European Super League, which was due to include the so-called Big Six in English football, certainly seemed to support this adage as a truism.

But as soon as the plan became public, it drew criticism from fans, players, pundits and even government.  This quickly led to all of the clubs withdrawing and the plans being scrapped although the question of money in the game and the power of wealthy owners being out of touch with supporters remained.

The word ‘greed’ was used liberally to describe the clubs’ motivations. So what does the Torah say about being driven by financial gain?

In his great wisdom, King Solomon, who was blessed with wealth, said: “A person who loves money is never satisfied, nor is a lover of wealth fulfilled. That too is futile.”

The Akeidat Yitzchak explains that since material possessions evoke in a person the desire to amass even more of them, they cannot be true possessions, since they do not satisfy the owner but act as a reminder of all the things they have not yet acquired.  It is this that makes the pursuit of wealth not only an unfulfilling exercise, but also ultimately pointless.

The Midrash expands on this idea and teaches that a person does not leave this world with even half of their desires fulfilled, someone who possesses a hundred desires two hundred; someone who has two hundred craves four hundred.

However, a word of caution.  If we are going to claim greed on the part of others, then we need to examine our own relationship with material possessions. Do we associate even modest wealth with happiness?

How much pleasure do we derive from our latest acquisition, however small?  Should we all not remember that the Torah teaches us: “Man does not live on bread alone, rather we live by everything that emanates from God’s mouth”?

We all face the same choice of instant gratification versus deferred reward, which is the difference between the ephemeral and the eternal.

Rabbi Alex Chapper serves Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue

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