The International soccer community is currently in uproar over a recent soccer game between France and Ireland, which after a last-second winning goal saw France advance into the World Cup leaving Ireland to go home losers, excluded from the rest of the World Cup action.
Nothing so outrageous about that, so let’s build up the picture a little bit – To give you a little background, the World Cup is the
biggest competition in the soccer world, financially it is worth millions of dollars to the countries involved, and in terms of prestige there is none greater.
It was the last minute of the game and both teams had each scored one goal. The tension was high. And then, in the last second of the game one of the French players did the unthinkable, as the ball was about to go out of play and the referee temporarily distracted he deliberately handled it (a heinous crime in the soccer world) passed the ball to his team mate who scored the winning goal as the whole of the Irish soccer team stood still in disbelief at the flagrant miscarriage of justice as the final whistle blew and France were declared winners.
This is not the first time in soccer history that this kind of thing has happened, but normally there is not such a pandemonium, the losing team inevitable blames the player and the “accused” player says that the decision could have gone either way, fortune favoured the brave and in reality their team’s victory was fully deserved. This time however things were different.
The player who illegally handled the ball did not come out and say that it was an accident, rather he admitted that it was completely intentional and that he cheated. His only defence was that the referee is in charge and he allowed play to continue.
With millions of dollars riding on this game we can certainly understand his desire to secure victory for his country at all costs. With the referee not watching the play he was free to act how he wanted.
But what is the Jewish approach? Is it right to cheat the system if you can’t get caught? If no-one is looking is it ok to go against the rules? If you can get away with it, should you do anything to succeed?
The truth is that these are all trick questions, there is never a time where there is no referee watching us. Ethics of Our Fathers teaches us “Know what is above you, a seeing eye, a hearing ear, and all of your deeds written down in a book.” (2:1). . God is the true referee who judges our actions and He never gets distracted or forgets what we did. He hears our thoughts and knows our intentions, and we can never deceive Him.
Our actions should not depend on whether we will get caught or not. We should strive to act as if there is always someone there overseeing what we are doing.
We need to think, would we really say that if we knew we were being listened to? Would we be looking at this if we knew someone was watching?
If we live our lives in this way, surely there will never be any controversy over our actions.