B’ha’alotcha 5761

Tora - Torah

Parshat B'ha’alotcha 18 Sivan, 5761 June 9, 2001

Something Old:
To review last year’s Tora-Torah for B'ha’alotcha, just click
Something New:

Rabbi Menachem Raab (father of Black Belt, Moshe Raab) wrote this Dvar Torah for Parshat B’ha’alotcha. (That’s two weeks in a row for Tora-Torah connections. One more, I think we should award an honorary belt!)

Rashi asks, “Why did the Torah tell about Aharon’s duties of lighting the Menorah daily immediately following the Korbanot that the Nesi’im brought when the Mishkan was dedicated?” He answers (Num. 8; 2) that Aharon was disappointed that the Nesi’im brought the Korbanot and he had no duties to perform. Therefore, Hashem said to him “Your task will be greater than theirs. You will light the Menorah”.

It is strange that when Hashem wants to show him that his tasks are greater and more important, He points to the Menorah,not to the fact that he will be going into the Kodesh Kadoshim or that his garments will be gold whereas the simple Kohanim wear plain garments. No other Kohen can do these things, and yet He points to the Menorah.

People think that a person distinguishes himself by doing something that no one else can do. The truth is the opposite. A person shows his greatness when he does what anyone else can do but he does it better or does it consistently or does it regularly and does not tire from performing his task. Anyone could light the Menorah but Aharon would do it with greater Kavana and determination than others.

When we have things to do – homework, or going to work, or Davening, or helping someone – if we do them willingly and with the right spirit, then we are great. If we do them as a chore that we would prefer not to have to do, then we lose our greatness.

Developing the skill of Kavana (which I define as “disciplined spiritual imagination”) is what Tora Dojo is all about. That’s what an actor does when he/she uses the same lines each night but manages to keep them fresh and alive. Part of Tora Dojo training is to use our Kavana to make every move we do (every form we practice) new and fresh each time we do it. That is what makes our technique “great”.

There is another level to this lesson as well. In the early days of Tora Dojo, every time we would see TaShih do a new form (they were all new to us at the time) or perform a new break, all we wanted to do was work harder to be able to do what he did.

After a while it got so crazy that everyone wanted to do something new that had never been seen before… even if the level of difficulty was not as great. I can appreciate that. Something new and different is always entertaining at an exhibition. But by focusing on the demonstration being “new”, we could also avoid aspiring toward the great things that had been done before. We could hide behind an attitude of “Well, that’s not for me to do, that’s for Sifu” or “That’s for TaShih!”

The Parsha reminds us of this very important idea so neatly summarized by Rabbi Raab. A person shows his greatness when he does what anyone else can do but he does it … consistently… with greater Kavana and determination.

In any case, Tora Dojo forms and breaks are not things anyone can do. Nevertheless, we should always reach higher… to aspire to do what our teachers have done. They blaze the path that we can follow. And don’t worry; there will always be time to innovate too.

"Tora-Torah" is a weekly column on Parshat Hashavua with insights into the inner aspects of the Jewish martial arts as founded and taught by Grand Master H. I. Sober in the International Tora Dojo Martial Arts Association. The copyrighted 'Tora tiger' logo is used with permission of Prof. H. I. Sober.

"Tora-Torah" is written or edited by Michael Andron, PhD. Lao Shih, a Seventh Degree Black Belt in the Tora Dojo Association. He has been teaching Grand Master Sober's system for over 30 years.

Note that the Tora Dojo comments are highlighted in a different color. This should help teachers in their sharing Tora-Torah with younger students at their level of comprehension.

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