Cheating

May 2nd, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week
Whenever I am asked for my predictions for the future I become irritable and think of Horace.

Horace, himself a poet, already confessed that he let many things pass rather than make an enemy of the irritable genus of poets; and poets, are irritable still.

Reading of the famous chess match between Karpov and Korchnoi in Baguio City, Phillipines, 1978, where they silently tore each other limb from limb, we realize that chess players and poets share the same irritability.

The adepts of the noble game claim that there are strong commonalities between poetry and chess: a game of chess, even if played by dilettantes, is an austere metaphor of life and a struggle for life. The chess player’s virtues, reason, memory and invention, are the virtues of every thinking man.

The stern rule of chess, according to which the piece that was touched must be moved, and it is not permissible to redo a move of which one repents, reproduces the inexorability of the choices of life.

A grandmaster will never cheat, and a poet, cannot. Yet, many of us attempt to cheat at the game of life. We want to know the future so that we can plan. We search for psychics, mystics, Tarot Card readers, Kabbalists, holy men and prophets, who can predict the future so we can play the game without having to resort to our reason, memory and invention.

“And the person who shall turn to the sorcery of the Ovot and the Yid’onim, to stray after them – I shall concentrate My attention upon that person and cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6) God wants us to play the game without cheating. He wants us to place everything on the line when we make a choice.

All this in the portion of holiness, for there is no holiness in cheating, only in playing the game.

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