53. The Boxing Simulator

In my life I’ve done some things that are clever and some things that are less than clever. One of the less than clever things that I’ve done was when I was 18 years old I went to a boxing gym. I spent six months in that gym learning how to box, and I discovered something very, very significant. It doesn’t matter how good you are, it doesn’t matter how fast you are, it doesn’t matter how well you could block — you’re going to get hit. And the first time I got into the ring was the longest two minutes of my life. Because I held my hands up and I tried to punch and as punches hit me my neck snapped back and before I knew it I was being pummeled. And it was a very interesting learning experience, but a bit painful.

Fast forward 20 years later. I and my children are in an arcade and there’s a boxing little game. You put your quarters in, you pick up the gloves, and out on this screen comes this big threatening guy. And it’s so real. It’s a boxing simulator. It’s so real, because when you punch him oh, he grunts. And if you block a punch, you hear it. And I put on the gloves, I put my quarters in, I started punching and I was getting a workout, I was sweating. It was an incredibly real, live situation. And then I put the gloves down and I spent the rest of the day with my children.

The interesting part was no headache, no bruises, no swollen jaw. And then I realized something very important. When we go about this thing called life, we have to be very engaged and very active, but we have to understand that it’s a boxing simulator. The guy in front of me — I have to duck, I have to punch, I have to go through the motions, but I have to recognize he cannot hurt me. There’s nothing that he can do to harm me. I have to act in the ways of the world, but I have to recognize he’s not a threat. Hashem wants me to punch, Hashem wants me to duck, Hashem wants me to go through the motions. But I have to recognize that he cannot harm me, he cannot help me. He is but a mirage. Hashem is behind every scene. That understanding that I have to be very active and yet recognize that no human being can harm me is the basis of our emunah (belief) system.