The importance of a tzibbur: Joshua Schwager, member of the 1986 national champion Penn State Nittany Lions and now a shomer Torah umitzvos Jew, told my students at Rutgers that the 2007 New York Giants became a great team and won the Super Bowl only after they got rid of Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey.
Shockey and Barber had both been offensive superstars for the Giants for years before the ’07 season. They both put up flashy individual statistics, but that didn’t translate into playoff victories for the Giants. Shockey and Barber negatively affected team chemistry by being “me first” players who loudly criticized teammates and coaches. But after Barber retired prior to the 2007 season and Shockey’s injury forced him to miss the playoffs, the Giants came together as a team.
Devarim 33:5 tells us, “And He was King in Jeshurun, whenever the sum total of the people were gathered, and the tribes of Israel were together.” Rashi, quoting the Sifri, comments, “When Israel is gathered together in a unified group, and there is peace among them, God is their King – but not when there is strife among them.”
Klal Yisrael can only be Hashem’s people when we are all working as a unified whole.
RABBI RABBS EMAILS: The better example would be the 2001 Seattle Mariners who won an insane 116 games. What was their secret? Prior to the start of that season, Alex Rodriguez had left.
ARod set a record for signing for the biggest contract ever as he made a fortune in Texas, and Seattle immediately set an American League record for the most wins in a season.