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BASEBALL AND THE KABBALAH

Nighttime is different from the day, and things which appear so obviously clear in daylight take on new meaning and proportions when cloaked in darkness. Even our attitudes change along with our perceptions, and imagination comes in to fill out and amplify what our nightblindness has taken away. The world itself follows different rules during the night, and different animals come out to roam the earth. There are beasts of the day and beasts of the night, and each one lays claim to its own sovereignty. And so, under a black sky, the baseball game itself began to look different. What had seemed before so clearly a battle between Good and Evil, a clash between opposing forces, lost its distinct sharpness. And the proportions changed, altered by the fathomless firmament suspended above us. Suddenly, it appeared that we no longer were the faithful followers, rooting in sympathetic harmony for one side's domination over the other. At night, our own powers diminish, and we become aware of our mysterious dependencies. And so, although we were still fastened to the game, almost as if its victims, bound to the vagaries of its movements, we were now watching the strange workings of an organic entity, like watching the interchanging shift in clouds, each one bearing on the next, which held over us the threat of storm or calm. Ten men stood on the baseball field - nine of one side, one of another, but together they combined to form one single body, working like gears towards a single goal, whose outcome was still unknown. The game continued.

New patterns began to dawn on me. "Hey Max;' I said, "look at the field. You see - there's so much room in the outfield, but everything in the infield is so dose together. It's almost like an explosion, where the further out you get, the further apart the particles are."

"Hey, yeah," he said. "Everything from home plate outwards gets farther apart, like a mushroom effect." He grew to theorizing. "It's like the atmosphere, or the world--things closer to earth are packed together, but as you go upwards, the distance between things get greater.

I looked at the three outfielders, each one alone in a sea of grass, and at the seven players grouped more closely in the infield, with the catcher and the batter so close they could reach out and touch each other. And then I realized what it reminded me of.

"Look Max -- it's like in the kabbala. There are ten emanations. The three outer emanations are way out and far apart, lost in the highest realms. Then the seven lower emanations are closer, in a tighter relationship.

"Far out!" he answered, picking up on the idea. "That's right - there's Keter, Hochmah, and Binah, like Center, Right, and Left. And then you go down to two on one side--first base and second base - "

"Hesed and Netzah!" I said.

"--and two on the left-"

"Din and Hod. And the pitcher -"

"- that's Tiferet, which is perfect for the pitcher. The pitcher

unifies the whole team, everything concentrates on him, he's the star performer, and then he delivers the pitch to the plate--"

"- and that's the union between Tiferet and Malkhut, which

is the catcher-"

"Right! But it first has to go through Yesod to get to Malkhut-"

" - and Yesod is the batter, shaking his bat which joins Tiferet and Malkhut into one relationship."

We saw the game with new eyes now, and we grinned from ear to ear. Everything was different. Tiferet stood up there in the middle, on the mound, and threw towards the plate. Malkhut stretched out its glove to receive the ball. Yesod swung. It was a sharp ground ball to Din, who scooped it up and threw it on to Hesed for an out.

"Yay!" we shouted.

"What are you getting so excited for?" Rebecca asked.

"Oh, it's beautiful", I told her and went back to watching the game.

The next batter stepped into Yesod and Malkhut, flashed a few signs and made a perfect target with his glove, waiting to receive. Tiferet nodded, and sent a fastball right by Yesod, which thumped into Malkhut's glove.

"All right!" I said. "Strike one!"

And Tiferet threw two more, just like the first. Three quick pitches and Malkhut received them all, right down the middle. Two outs.

The next batter stood up at the plate, and on the first pitch he hit a high fly ball and everyone watched to see where it would land. Keter moved into position, pounded his glove, and made the catch. In the bottom of the ninth and the score was tied, 3-3. And suddenly the stadium grew tense, and started to clap in rhythmic fashion. We were impatient, we wanted to win, we wanted the game to end. Stomp, stomp, stomp, the noise grew.

Tiferet again peered in to Malkhut. Each player stood suspended in his position, poised and ready. He set, he threw. And suddenly there was a tremendous sound, and the ball leapt from the bat. Everybody rose to their feet, Mary Ann shrieked, the black man hollered, the man with the watch pumped his fist into the air, the freaks with the dope shouted wildly, as the ball, a perfect sphere, traveled in a long, perfect, elliptical arc, like the earth traveling in outer space, and it suddenly disappeared over The Wall, into the blackness beyond the stadium.

"Ayn Sof! Ayn Sof!" Max and I screamed in ecstasy, while thousands and tens of thousands of voices around us shouted hallelujah.

"We won! We won! We won!" We were happy, and we could go home now. It was like were were dreaming, and we laughed and sang. And suddenly the crowd surged forward, up the aisles, up the ramps, and headed for the stairs. I turned and looked backwards to where everything was already quickly emptying out, and I watched as candy wrappers blew across the playing field like loose pages from old, tattered books, and saw beneath the grandstand seats popcorn and peanut shells lying in scattered heaps, like the rubble fallen from ancient ruins.

"Time to go home," I said.

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