Voices from the field
The Olympic Games: Tamir Goodman on Representing Your Country Through Sport
With the Olympic Games on my mind, I have been thinking about how the Israeli athletes must feel as they represent Israel at the highest level of their sport. I also recall how the Olympics, specifically the Munich Games, played a role in my own training when I was playing basketball for Maccabi Haifa.
Our most grueling speed training took place at Haifa’s athletic stadium. As we ran the track, we would pass a monument dedicated to the Israeli athletes killed by terrorists during the Munich games. Seeing those names and thinking about the athletes’ legacy always inspired me to run harder and faster even when my body was physically exhausted. I transformed from training just for myself to training to represent Israel, no matter where we were playing: in Israel, in Europe or beyond.
Similarly, I believe that because Olympic athletes are competing as ambassadors of their country they have an extra level of motivation to push past their limits. This idea is not new. In the recent Torah portion, parashat Trumah (vs. 13 ch. 25) there is a seemingly unusual commandment that the poles used for transporting the Holy Ark should never be removed from the Ark. Our sages shed light on the deeper meaning behind this mitzvah. They explain that the poles represent our legs and the Ark represents our heritage, indicating that no matter where a Jew travels on his or her legs, our heritage needs to come along with us. From this idea we learn that by staying connected to our roots we will have a boost of confidence and motivation to face whatever challenge we encounter on our journey.
By proudly representing Israel at the Olympic Games, our Israeli athletes are making the entire Jewish people proud, while adding another page to our eternal heritage.