Our Shul had some teams playing in championship games last Sunday, so I went to one of the games to show my support. I was talking to DK, who had moved from supervising the running of our Shul teams, to becoming Director of the entire league. He told me that our Rabbi felt it was very important that our Shul continue to field three of four teams, for the boys of the neighborhood, even though we had less than ten boys playing in the league. Let’s see why our Rabbi thinks baseball is so important.
In the first chapter of the Mesillas Yesharim the Ramchal states:
“The essence of man’s existence in this world is the fulfilling of mitzvos, the serving of God and the withstanding of trials, and the world’s pleasures should serve the purpose of aiding and assisting him, by way of providing him with the contentment and peace of mind requisite for the freeing of his heart for the service which rests upon him.”
Of course the Ramchal is talking about permitted pleasures and we see that they play a very important role. Man is created from a body and a soul and our body is attracted to the pleasures of the world. The performance of mitzvos and the serving of God make us more spiritually oriented, but we will always have a physical component which is attracted to this world. When we use the pleasures of this world properly we achieve the contentment and peace of mind necessary to serve God. If we deprive ourselves of the necessary permitted pleasures, we will not have peace of mind, which will hinder our service of God.
Younger boys are not obligated in mitzvos, but they do serve God through their prayers, Torah learning, and Gemillas Chasadim. They need pleasures to achieve the contentment and peace of mind necessary for their Divine Service. Baseball is one of the best sources of that pleasure. It builds teamwork, creates friendships and teaches good sportsmanship and does not require high levels of athleticism to play.
We need adequate permitted pleasures to serve Hashem properly. Thankfully, we have baseball and a Rav who understands its importance to guide us.