It is nothing less than a national holiday, of course -- as it has been since its inception some 34 years ago. And like all other fervent national holidays, the spectacle of the "ritual of January" has its attendant high priests, pageantry, color, legendary heroes, millions of adoring disciples and sagacious commentators.

All this can teach us some valuable lessons about competition, about what the world deems "important," and, most importantly, about ourselves.

What could we really accomplish if there was no one else to do it?

What are we individually capable of? What could we really accomplish if we absolutely had to? If there was no one else around to get the job done?

This year's 'national holiday' focused on the next-to-impossible accomplishments of an improbable athlete by the name of Kurt Warner -- the second string quarterback of the St. Louis Rams -- who no one thought of as being particularly great. He is a young man who began his football career by tossing rolls of toilet paper around an Iowa supermarket. But when St. Louis' $16 million starting quarterback was injured during pre-season, along came Kurt Warner to emerge as a superstar.

Greatness can come from anywhere. Kurt played hard and he believed in himself. Now he's the single most valuable football player on planet Earth.

I always believed in myself ... There was never a doubt that if I ever got the opportunity, that I could be successful. I continued to believe that through the times I worked in the supermarket and the times I played in Arena Football. I never lost sight of that. To me, that's what it's all about -- believing in yourself, waiting for that opportunity and then seizing it when it comes.

In these words, he states a powerful, central Jewish theme: The Almighty created each and every one of us with unique gifts, talents and insights. Any one of us is capable of greatness. And the measure of our potential for greatness very often comes down to the ability to recognize an opportunity and seize it.

Greatness often comes down to seeing an opportunity and seizing it.

God told the prophet Samuel to go to Jesse's home to anoint the next king of Israel. After going through all of Jesse's sons and finding none fitting, he finally approached the shy, improbable young lad named David who was tending his father's flock out in the field. No one imagined he could be a leader.

In the Purim story, Mordechai is distraught when -- out of thousands of the most beautiful women in the Persian Empire -- his beloved Esther is taken by King Achashverosh to become Queen. But then it became clear that Esther was in this position for no less a task than saving the Jewish people from annihilation. An unlikely candidate? Esther, at the risk of her very life, seized the opportunity and saved the day.

Super Bowl Sunday gave the world a stunning lesson in personal achievement against all odds.