Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Kislev 5766 - December 21, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

The Name of the Game
by Rosally Saltsman

I was playing Scrabble one evening with a group of articulate women. One of the women, an older lady who had invited me to play, is very aristocratic, aside from the high British accent. If you intended to go meet the Queen and needed some lessons in nobility, I would send you to her. She's also very good-natured and fun and, well, good at Scrabble.

I happen to love Scrabble, but I don't have patience to sit and figure out all the possible letter permutations. So though my vocabulary is rich (except for all those obscure words in Scrabble that get you 70 points), my strategy is poor.

So we began to play and I put down a word and she suggested ever so nicely that I put the word another way so that I get double points.

"You're not supposed to help me," I told her.

With a dignified wave she said, "But see, if you know these little tricks, you can get many more points."

A few turns later, she chose to put down a word of less value so that we could open up the board and it would be a more interesting game.

"I don't think you understand the concept of the game," I said lightly. "You're supposed to try to win." She smiled a winning smile.

In the end she did win but she was very gracious and made me feel that I had played very well and that the difference in our scores wasn't that significant. It was. Well, since she had put down one of those seven letter words and got doubles on some of the letters, it would have been a miracle if I had caught up.

This lady plays very much by the rules of Scrabble, but she lives the rules of refinement. I'm very competitive and I play to win. I didn't. She spent the game teaching me how to improve, smiling at me, encouraging and complimenting my game and striving to make the game more pleasant for both of us. So we both won because, somehow, I didn't feel like I had lost the game at all.

In the game of life (the real thing, not the board game), it really is hardly a question of whether you win or lose but how you play the game. In fact, how you play the game actually ultimately determines whether you win or lose. It's all process. And if we focus on refining the process by being gallant and kind, generous and encouraging instead of competitive, self-absorbed and aggressive, then we actually all win.

So let's all play nice.


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