A Horse of a Different Color! by Rabbi Israel Rubin

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Saratoga is off and running, so here are some Torah tips to play the horses right.

"Nay," you say. "Preaching in the racing season is like beating a dead horse!"

It is really a gamble to sermonize on a scratch sheet, but sports have spirit, too! G‑d lives not only in Jerusalem and in Brooklyn; He is everywhere all the time - including summer in Saratoga.

But the nay sayers are kicking. "Whoa! Don't mix Judaism with horses. Didn't King David say:"These are into their chariots, and these are into their horses, but we call in G‑d's name!" (Psalm 20).

But the naysayers resist. "The Great American Pharoah frenzy now reduces all else to naught!"

This is indeed a game changer of Biblical proportions! Yet this unique Royal Pharoah is careful to even spell his name different to distinguish himself from Ancient Egypt's Evil King Pharaoh and his Warhorses!

Others snort: "Hold your horses! I cruise in the fast lane- why return to the old horse and buggy days? Don't saddle me with Mitzvos; they slow me down!"

Horsefeathers! Mitzvos are no handicap to a stable quality life. It reins us in a little here and there, but harnesses our energy to stay ahead, training us to overcome life's hurdles and obstacles. Speed and stamina score big in Mitzvah performance, "to be bold as a
leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer and strong as a lion to do G‑d's will."(
Avos 5)

As for the Triple Crown, "Rabbi Simeon says: There are three crowns: the Crown of Royalty, the Cohen Crown and the Torah Crown, and the Crown of a Good Name supersedes them all!" (Avos 4)

Speaking of horses, here's a winner. The Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chasidism, saw a lesson in everything. He once prodded an equestrian to stop horsing around and return to Judaism, but the man's mind was on his horse. "See how it runs!" he exclaimed. " It covers much more ground than the slowly Shleppers!"

"But," asked the Rabbi, "if your horse takes a wrong turn, it'll get lost faster than a slow horse!" "Aha!" said the horse fancier. "My horse makes up for lost time and returns real fast." The Baal Shem Tov beat him to the chase. "Indeed! The same drive that led you astray, can quickly get you back on track."

But let's be selective about the races we enter, for the tortoise won by going slow. Speed isn't everything, and can even kill. We run into serious problems when we reverse our priorities and put the wagon before the horse rushing headlong into the perpetual rat race chasing our tails round and round going nowhere fast at dizzying speeds without ever stopping to pause as our days weeks and years become a long run-on-sentence down to the finish line.

Quickly, let's slow down; 'Post Time' is now. "For if not now, when?" (Avos 1)

Click here for
Reflections on Triple Crown Winner American Pharaoh by Rabbi Mendel