Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Meaning of a Comeback

Much has been made of the comeback in big games this year. Beginning with the NBA Finals this past June when the Cleveland Cavaliers were down 3 games to 1 to the Golden State Warriors. Most basketball fans counted the Cavs out, but the team was led by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to come back and win the team's first championship. In a best of 7 series, being down 3 games to 1 is usually a death sentence, but the Cavs seem to have set a trend with their come from behind victory.

Next, it was the perennially lackluster Chicago Cubs who, like the Cleveland Cavliers, were down 3 games to 1. Trailing the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs managed to summon the strength in the 2016 World Series and win the team's first championship since 1908. Down 3 games to 1 in the World Series gives your opponent 3 games to win just 1 game, while you have to sweep the final 3 games. Somehow the Cubs managed to do it and millions flooded the Chicago streets to celebrate.

Next up was one of the most exciting tennis matches I've ever witnessed. The finals of the 2017 Australian Open between veteran players Swiss Roger Federer and Spaniard Rafael Nadal. Federer was down, yes, 3 games to 1, in the fifth and final set, but managed to come back and win his 18th Grand Slam title.

Finally, in the NFL there are no championship series like in basketball and baseball. However, in the Super Bowl this past Sunday evening the New England Patriots scored 31 (there are those numbers again!) unanswered points to win their 5th Super Bowl. Quarterback Tom Brady and the Pats were down 25 points to the Atlanta Falcons, but miraculously battled back to win thanks in large part to the best Jewish NFL player Julian Edelman's amazing catch.

So, what might the meaning of the 3-1 comeback mean? I've never put much emphasis into the Jewish numerology system, known in Hebrew as Gematria. However, the number 31 in Gematria can either be לא, which means "no" or אל, which is a name for God. If we go with the Hebrew word for no, we could interpret this as a lesson that when we're losing by a lot and our prospects look dim, we should not give up. Choosing the reverse Hebrew letters, we can argue that when it looks like we're going to lose, we should have faith because God is with us. No doubt, both of these Gematria associations have helped the Jewish people endure for millennia.

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