Jerusalem Marathon

17 Adar Bet 5774 Jerusalem

This Friday is the 3rd Annual Jerusalem Marathon. I know because the route goes right by my building, which is located at a fairly important Jerusalem intersection, and they have already dropped of the blue metal barricades which will be used to block traffic. On Marathon Day I can look out my window and see rolling by those sprite-footed  Africans who come here to take the prize money, followed some minutes later by the Jews. We are at about mile twenty-one (km 37) I think. My dear friend Eliyahu Lazarus, with whom I started our Baka History Club, ran it two years ago. Having run several marathons in the States, he said this one was “a killer”. This due undoubtedly to Jerusalem being situated on hills, as is known. (A sign perhaps that Hashem did not design it for marathons).

The marathon is an innovation of our now second term mayor, who as one can see in the glossy brochures the city sends you each year with your tax bill, tries hard to encourage the Youth, Youth, Youth to move to Jerusalem. Rav Kook said to beware of a society which always emphasizes youth. And as I heard the mayor say at a pre-election gathering here in Baka, Jerusalem is a great “brand” which he wants to market better and bring x million amount of tourists to each year.

As you know, I like to count myself among the humble “students” of Rav Kook, who was all for the notion of a strong soul in a strong body, but that does not mean we need a marathon. A marathon has other connotations as well. Lets quote from our friend Erich Fromm in To Have Or To Be, pg 128:

Indeed the popularity of the Olympic Games is in itself a symbolic expression of Western paganism. They celebrate the pagan hero: the winner, the strongest, the most self-assertive, while over-looking the dirty mixture of business and publicity that characterizes the contemporary imitation of the Greek Olympic Games.

So for all of you who are running for the sake of health, and don’t care who wins, and are not going to use this as an opportunity to ogle women, I wish you well!

Let’s be careful out there!

What is your opinion about a marathon in Jerusalem?

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