The tension in the air is palpable as we prepare for today’s tip-off at the Manischewitz Arena. Mensch Madness Game 4 is going to involve some serious trash-talking!
Today’s match-up will pit a Serpent and a Donkey against one another, and in a fascinating twist, both of these animals are able to speak (no, the donkey is not related to Eddie Murphy’s character in Shrek)!
Also, it looks like the trash talking is on and off the court today, folks. As the snake came out for his pre-game warm-up, he encountered two fans who seemed to be drunk. One of them (due to privacy concerns, he will be referred to only by his first name, Adam) was shouting about some piece of fruit, and Adam’s companion, Eve, was yelling that the Serpent was a lying fraud. Based on this serious allegation, a test was administered on the Serpent for performance-enhancing drugs, but it came back negative. Adam and Eve were escorted out by security, and told they could never return – ever.
While the players wrapped their warm-ups, a man named Balaam gave a pretty poor rendition of the national anthem. He stumbled over the words, and some said that was because he was trying to sing about the “home of the cowardly” instead of “home of the brave.” Apparently the folks operating the sound system edited his words in real time.
As the game began, the Serpent immediately went on an 18-4 run. His ability to walk on two legs — that’s right, sports fans, a two-legged snake! — was immensely helpful, and the donkey just couldn’t hang with him as she tried to dribble with one of her four legs. Soon, the Donkey was called for travelling. She got in an argument with the ref. The Serpent ran over, demanding that the Donkey be called for a technical foul. Sure enough, the ref blew his whistle and made the call. Then Serpent began dancing around, taunting Donkey, trash-talking her and telling her to break another rule if she really wanted to win the game…
This would prove to be a turning point.
A voice on the loud-speaker boomed: “Serpent, because you have enticed the referee to make this excessive call and continue coaxing Donkey to break the rules, you will no longer be able to prance around the court on two legs. You will henceforth be required to attempt mid-range jump shots while slithering around on your belly.”
We searched the entire NCAA rulebook, and we found no such provision, but that voice over the loudspeaker was pretty powerful. And so, just like that, the Serpent’s two-leg advantage slithered away.
Donkey took a massive lead, as the Serpent’s ability to play defense was almost completely eliminated. It was so bad that a benchwarmer named “Angel” was summoned to assist the serpent on defense. What was strange is that none of the fans could see this Angel character. His clothing blended in with the court. Only the Donkey could see him. When she started dribbling frantically in circles to try and avoid Angel’s terrific defense, the fans thought she was just wasting time and milking the lead.
Anthem-garbling Balaam was incredibly upset, and threw his hot dog at the Donkey. Next came the Dippin’ Dots. Finally, after being pelted with an entire box of nachos, Donkey couldn’t take it anymore.
She yelled, “What have I done to you that you’ve launched these food items at me three times? This ‘Angel’ guy was going to confront you due to your horrendous national anthem rendition, but because I gave him the opportunity to play defense against me, I saved you from that thoroughly unpleasant interaction! And this is the thanks I get?!”
Balaam, like Adam and Eve before him, was escorted out and banned for life from Manischewitz Arena. As the game drew to a close, the donkey coasted to a victory over the helpless serpent, who spent most of his time slithering around the three-point arc, air-balling desperation attempts from downtown. The final score was 83-68.
Heading into this match-up, all bets are on the powerful hunk of animated mud, known as the Golem, created by Rabbi Judah Loeb of Prague to protect the community against pogroms in the sixteenth century. Clocking in at over 6 feet tall, with a whole lotta muscle, this creature is a force of nature when it comes to basketball. The underdog in this match is the “Big Fish” (sometimes referred to as a whale or “great fish”—nicknames are common in this game, sports fans) that appeared in the story of Jonah and swallows him whole. No match in strength to the Golem, the fish will have to swim to the top with agility and strategy. Will he be able to do it?
Mensch Madness Game 3 gets started in a BIG way!
Though the Golem is unmatched in strength, his weakness lies in his lack of clear strategy. Moving without thinking through the consequences, he leaves himself wide open, and the Big Fish easily steals the ball! That creature from the deep has the incredible ability to anticipate moves before they happen— he seems to be exactly in the right place at the right time to steal the ball from the Golem.
Not outplayed yet, the Golem goes back to his basics. He deals struggles in the world in one solid way: he faces them aggressively and openly. Once the fish steals the ball and swims to the other side of the court, the Golem doesn’t take time to re-group and work through his strategy. He attacks with full force, expelling a lot of energy and putting himself in a very vulnerable place. He lunges for the ball and misses by a few inches and the fish ducks back. This fish is practiced in the game of waiting. The fish sat for three days and three nights with Jonah kicking around his belly. He can handle some patience on the court!
Big Fish represents a very different method of dealing with struggles in the world: he takes some time for introspection, working through the best possible approaches and consequences before acting. Knowing the Golem’s weaknesses and brute strength, the fish never tries to fight for the ball but instead waits for a moment the Golem is lacking in defense.
As the massive fish swims across the court in a few sluggish movements, stopping to consider the consequences, the Golem easily catches up and steals the ball while the fish is deep in thought. The Golem runs back across the court and dunks the ball. It looks like the game is over when suddenly…
Oh, man! What a move!
After days of strategizing before the game, looks like the fish discovered the Golem’s biggest flaw: the word Emet (“truth”) written on the Golem’s head. This word, composed of the Hebrew letters aleph, mem, tav symbolizes the life of the Golem, given to him by God. With the flap of a flipper, the fish reaches over and covers the aleph, leaving the letters mem and tav, or the Hebrew word met (“death”). And the Golem is down for the count!
Don’t worry, Golem fans. His coach’ll have him back up and lurching soon. But this game is over!
With drastically different strengths, both players gave this game their best. In the end, the fish’s strategy for change making is more sustainable. Big Fish looks at the big picture, and earns a spot in the next round!
Welcome back to the arena for the second game in our series of Mensch Madness: The Creatures of Judaism. Both of our contenders are underdogs (not that either of them are literally dogs—one team isn’t even mammalian!) who never imagined that they’d make it this far.
On one side of the court, we have The Frogs. Yes, the frogs from the ten plagues—they hopped here all the way from ancient Egypt. They’ve accumulated assists in previous games by annoying Pharaoh into letting the Jews go. Unfortunately, their win was short-lived, as Pharaoh changed his mind and refused to let the Jews leave. Ultimately, their W was changed to an L.
On the other side, we have Baxter the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher. Although he wasn’t successful in becoming kosher, Baxter had a slam dunk in learning about Judaism. His pre-game ritual of downing pickles and challah has served him well in the past, and we’re excited to see how he’ll compete in today’s game.
The ball is tossed to start the game, and the frogs have a big advantage with their vertical leap. Frogs have first possession, and Baxter can’t focus with all the frogs on his nose and frogs on his toes. Frogs here, frogs there, frogs were jumping everywhere. The game has barely begun and there is already a penalty for too many players on the court. Baxter gets to take a foul shot and….it’s good!
As the game continues… Baxter is really hogging the ball today. His confidence has grown and Baxter flies across the court to score again! The frogs call a time out to regroup and come up with a new, ribbeting play. These frogs come to us from an area where basketball isn’t very popular and they’re still getting accustomed to the rules. These guys tried to come onto the court today with open-toad shoes! Come on, frogs! Do better.
As for Baxter, he’s conferring with his coaches on the game, thus far, and developing their own plan for winning.
Time out is over! The frogs and pig are back at it, fighting for the win as the game clocks winds down. It appears that Baxter has been practicing and hammed up his offense! He is wiping the floor with these frogs today, and they are hopping mad! In a turn for the worst, the frogs seem to have lost focus. Aaaand, there are flies on the sideline… and now the frogs are going after the flies.
All of the frogs have left the court, leaving our treif-rific friend Baxter with the win. In the least-kosher matchup in our series, we’re excited to see this little piggy go wee wee wee, all the way to the next game.