Football fervor for the Seattle Seahawks is extraordinary to witness. In Australia there were so many different teams supported locally, sports failed to produce ‘hometown camaraderie’.
My favorite aspect of the Seattle Seahawks is the ‘12th man’. It is not one singular player on the team which causes their success. It is not the eleven men on the field which brings the win. The Hawks claim to be unable to prevail without their fan base. It is you, each of you supporters, who tips the scale to bring about their victory. The twelfth man isn't one person, but an enumerable mass, needed for triumph.
This made me think about the twelve ‘men’ needed to comprise a more important group, far away from CenturyLinkField and even further from the MetLife Stadium. Minyan! Twelve for a minyan? Of course, only ten men are needed, right? When ten men are assembled for prayer, they automatically bring an 11th. According to rabbinic literature, when ten men form a minyan, the Divine Presence rests upon them. Their unity brings God’s presence.
Now we have a team of eleven in prayer, just like the eleven on the field. Of course a football team is much larger than eleven, and every man plays an important role in the game. In prayer, everyone is equal and there is no delineation of which ten men in the room are the minyan.
Where is number 12? I am proud to be one of the enumerable mass of the 12th man. I cheer my husband on to attend daily minyan. I watch the children without him, forfeit time together, and encourage him to go. Three times a day he wins. He wins for himself, but he couldn’t do it without me, and the other men in synagogue. The 12th man is all of the women supporting their husbands and sons in attending daily prayer.
I am never going to count for a minyan. The Seahawks are never going to draft me. It isn't sexist. I am proud to be the 12th man.