4/12 – Netzach sheb’hesed
Today is Day 4 of the omer. Netzach sheb’hesed. From love, there emerges eternity.
One of the things that’s becoming clearer to me is that while the sefirah of the week is primary, the way that it manifests on each day will be different. During this week of hesed, it is loving-kindness that motivates everything, even if what is visible to the world is something else, like power or beauty.
Today we focus on a player whose love for the game manifested in the attribute of netzach, meaning: triumph, victory, or endurance. With apologies to Luis Scola, who at the age of 39, was still dominating some of the world’s best players in China last summer, there can be only one choice for Day 4, the greatest Jewish basketball player of all time, Dolph Schayes.
Schayes was a 6’8” stretch power forward, with size and skills, as well as a devastating two hand set shot. He was a 12x All-Star, 6x first team All-NBA, a NBA Champion, a Hall of Famer, and one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players of all time. Beginning his career in 1949, the first year of the NBA, he averaged 18.5 poins and 12.1 rebounds before retiring in 1964 as the NBA’s all-time leader in points and games played.
Today’s sefirah, Netzach is associated with Moses, the greatest prophet who ever lived. In its final verses, the Torah states:
וְלֹֽא־קָ֨ם נָבִ֥יא ע֛וֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל כְּמֹשֶׁ֑ה אֲשֶׁר֙ יְדָע֣וֹ יְהוָ֔ה פָּנִ֖ים אֶל־פָּנִֽים׃
Never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses—whom the LORD singled out, face to face. (Deuteronomy 34:10)
Moses Maimonides recognized this truth in his 13 Principles of Faith and we affirm it each and every time we sing Yigdal.
With all due respect to Amar’e Stoudemire, there has never been another Jewish basketball player like Dolph Schayes. And there may never be.*
“You play because you love it. You develop a great love for the game of basketball.” – Dolph Schayes
Schayes production made him a legend, but it’s his love for the game that made him the choice for Day 4: netzach sheb’hesed.
*Keep an eye on Deni Avidja, a 19 year old Israeli who will make his NBA debut next year.