כִּי לֹא עַל-הַלֶּחֶם לְבַדּוֹ יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם.
The Rio Olympics just ended. It was a thrill to watch Simone and Michael, Usain and Aly. I love the Olympics and enjoy especially hearing the stories of the athletes and their families and am inspired by the extraordinary effort and commitment that goes into their training.
It was reported that these games cost over $12 billion dollars. As uplifting as the Olympics are, how can such a price-tag for a two-week athletic competition be justified? There are orphans to be cared for, hungry mouths to feed, and refugees to be relocated. Twelve billion dollars would go a long way towards alleviating real problems in our world.
As is always the case, our weekly Torah portion includes wisdom which relates to the big questions of our day. We learn: “A person does not live by bread alone but by everything that comes from the Eternal does one live!” Our basic needs must be met—food, clothing, and shelter. But to truly live, we need more: art, music, friendship, and—yes—sport. To watch the Olympics is to be inspired by the human body as well as the human spirit.
But here’s the thing: we need not choose between ensuring that the basic needs of all people are met and nourishing our souls through art, culture, and athletics. Our world has enough resources to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and celebrate how fast we can run and how high we can jump. With wisdom, generosity, and commitment, we can do our part to enable all people to live lives of goodness and meaning with full bellies and full hearts and spirits, too.
–Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback