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Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
If You Can't Play Chess, Play G-d

Chess has become the newest fad in our house. From our 6 year old son (who happens to be the reigning champion) up until our 14 year old daughter, the dining room table always seems to be hosting an epic battle, with the other kids closely watching from the sidelines. I was never much of a chess player as a kid, despite my father's pushing me, but even I have gotten into it now. It is one of the few activities that I can enjoy with my children and feel that the time is relatively productive compared to some of the other activities they would like me to do with them. What's nice (I guess) is that I am not better than they are, so the competition is really fierce.

When I was a child the game impressed me as a complicated game. I would just move pieces around the board hoping to take off as many as my opponents pieces as possible. Hopefully I would somehow get the king. Thinking and strategy was not my strong point. Now that I am grown up (in a certain sense), I see the game on a totally different plane. I marvel at the different pieces and their unique abilities. One cuts across one way, another jumps around. I enjoy the plotting, the maneuvering, the synchronization with which you must move various pieces into position.

That being said I am still not very good at it (unless my 6 years old is considered a prodigal player), and the kids still beat me routinely. The problem is that while I am plotting my attack, so is my opponent. Inevitably a number of times each game after I make what I think is the perfect move, I notice slightly curling lips holding back a smirk as one of my key pieces is swiped from the board by my overzealous opponent, who has just outsmarted me.

Why am I telling you all this? Maybe not you, but there is tendency for many people such as me, to see life unfold around us and respond to these events with what we consider the perfect move. We are sure that we see the whole picture and we know exactly what needs to be done. We think we know how to solve all the world's problems or at least the problems plaguing Am Yisroel, far better than our leaders do. We never manage to solve our own personal problems (because that is our personal chess board and as soon as we make our move we are disappointed to find out we made the wrong move) but that doesn't stop us from volunteering our genius problem solving skills to the Tzibbur. We have been solving Klal Yisroel's problems in our own head for many years, very successfully. We have yet to be proven wrong. And the amazing thing is that our solutions are so obvious yet the President, the Gedolim, the School, etc. are so blind they don't see it. For some strange reason, the people in charge don't listen to us?!?

I doubt anyone reading this article is a chess grandmaster. That means we all make mistakes, even on a simple chess board of 64 squares with a few moving pieces, that cannot move in unexpected ways. Life has thousands of squares and thousands of pieces that move in ways we don't even imagine. They are pieces that are granted new ways to move with every new turn. It is almost impossible for us with our very limited view of the board, to make any move and be confident that our opponents pieces aren't ready to pounce on us. So next time you are at the barber, sheitel macher, taxi cab, simcha, etc. and everyone around you begins to play "how to solve the problems of Shiduchim, Kollelim, Eretz Yisroel, Chinuch, and even so and so's personal problems", before talking, think. Ask yourself do I really understand the complexity of the issue. Do I really understand the ramifications of all these obvious solutions? Do I have all the information that our Gedolim have? Am I just talking for the sake of talking?

We are now before Rosh HaShana and the Yom HaDim. If you really want to be influential, now is your chance. Finally the person in charge is listening and taking advice for how to handle the upcoming year. Talk to Him, beg Him. Change yourself, and He will change the world. Don't ask Him how, and don't analyze each move as if you understand how the game should be played. You do yours, and He will do His. You can win the game without making a single move. Kesiva V'Chasima Tova!

 

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