Ethics

For the week ending 2 June 2012 / 11 Sivan 5772

A Lesson from a Football Hero

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: I am a young American college graduate studying in a yeshiva in Israel. Missing the opportunity to study Torah in my earlier years I feel an urgent need to spend another year at yeshiva before entering law school in order to gain the degree of self-sufficiency in studying Talmudic texts which will enable me to successfully continue my Torah studies on a part-time basis while I am practicing law. My parents, however, argue that I am sacrificing a valuable year of career preparation. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: The opportunity to start your career preparation in law school will be available even a year later, while the opportunity to achieve your long-awaited breakthrough in your Torah learning skills may never return.

As regards sacrifices for ideals, try drawing your parents attention to the publicity recently given to the death of football star Pat Tillman while serving his country in Afghanistan in the battle against terrorism.

A pro football star playing in the important position of opening safety man, he was offered a 3.6 million dollar contract by the Arizona Cardinals. Then came the catastrophe of 9/11. Pat was so inspired by the patriotic need to defend his country against those who wished to destroy it that he passed up this lucrative offer and joined the Army Rangers with whom he served until he fell in battle.

If someone like Pat is capable of sacrificing a career of stardom and riches for the sake of his ideals, why should it be so unthinkable for a young man to sacrifice one year of preparation for a career as a lawyer in order to fulfill his ideals of development as a knowledgeable Jew?

The right thing to do is make it clear to your parents that you appreciate their genuine concern for your future but expect them to appreciate that you are an adult who must make the decisions which will shape your life and that you are old enough to know the difference between a sacrifice and an investment.

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