People who always seem happy amaze me. I also have a lot of respect for those folks who can maintain an even keel through difficult times. But there’s a special place in my heart reserved for Bill Belichick, who brings a whole different perspective to his interactions with the world.
His snorts, scoffs, disdainful grunts, and curt replies to reporters are the stuff of legend, but my personal favorite was at last night’s post-game press conference. Bill was asked if the win over Cincinnati was perhaps more meaningful because of all of the criticism that had been directed his way (and Tom Brady’s way, and Bob Kraft’s way) since the blowout loss at Kansas City this past Monday night.
His reponse? “What criticism?”
Let me assure of you of something. Bill heard all the criticism. How could he not have? Not since SpyGate have the Patriots been so universally bludgeoned in the media. I daresay the scribes and talking heads of the world took no small measure of satisfaction in prognosticating about the imminent collapse of the Patriots dynasty.
Sorry, everyone. Reports of the Patriots’ demise seem to be greatly exaggerated. But far be it from Bill to smile, celebrate, or give the media anything savory. Sure, he was fired up on the sideline during the game, but come 12:30 he was back to being Darth Hoodie. No celebration. Only business. We might have 613 commandments, but Bill seems to have only two eternal truths- 1) don’t give the media anything, ever and 2) celebrating is reserved for Super Bowl championships only.
In light of Sukkot’s imminent arrival, it’s worth noting that the idea of “celebrating” in Judaism is not so simple. Sukkot is, in fact, the only Jewish holiday on which we are explicitly commanded to celebrate. That’s right, kids, while you might call getting tipsy on Purim or dancing with the Torahs on Simchat Torah acts of “celebration,” in those cases the celebration is optional. The Torah only makes celebrating mandatory once a year, and that’s on Sukkot, as we read in Deuteronomy 16:14-15.
After the ingathering from your threshing floor and from your vat, you shall hold the Feast of Booths for seven days. You shall rejoice in your festival, with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow in your communities. You shall hold a festival for the Lord your God seven days, in the place that the Lord will choose; for the Lord your God will bless all your crops and all your undertakings, and you shall have nothing but joy.
Far be it from me to suggest that Bill Belichick should grab a lulav and etrog and join us in shul on Thursday as we usher in the Sukkot holiday. And it’s definitely above my pay grade to ask him to smile and enjoy last night’s victory. Truthfully, I don’t want him to change a bit.
Besides, I’d prefer a Super Bowl shuffle from Bill to a lulav shake any year.