A joke is told of a rabbi who decides to wake up early on Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the year), while all of his congregants are sleeping, to squeeze in a round of golf. There is a great tumult in heaven as the angels urge G-d to smite the rabbi on the spot. Much to their shock and consternation, G-d decides that the rabbi will get a hole-in-one. The angels are beside themselves and ask G-d where the justice is, in giving him this once in a lifetime shot. G-d replies “Who is he going to be able to tell?”
I thought of this joke last week as I debated whether to run the marathon I had scheduled on the day the shiva (the seven day intense mourning period) for my mom ended. What if the rabbi committed his sin not out of placing golf above G-d, but out of a sense that in golf he saw a connection to G-d? It certainly wouldn’t get rid of the sin, but might it not mitigate it somewhat? Or at the very least, put it in a different light?
What if I had qualified for Boston at the marathon last week? Would the pride in my achievement have pushed me to publicize it, despite feeling guilty for having run?
I do not dismiss the very real possibility that running was the wrong decision. If my running was a poor choice, I hope that G-d, who knows me better than I know myself, sees it differently than other sins I have committed.