Chukat-Balak 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Chukat-Balak Tammuz 12, 5760 July 15, 2000

Tora Dojo Teachers and Parents: If you share and discuss the Tora-Torah with younger students, tell it in your own words at their comprehension level rather than try to read it to them or have them read it.

In this double Parsha, we can see two instances that teach us a vital martial arts lesson. The first instance is when Moshe, instead of speaking to the rock as Hashem had suggested, strikes the rock to bring forth water for the Israelites. The second (in Balak) is when Bilaam gets so angry at the donkey that he strikes it.

When I was a beginner (the highest rank in the class at the time was yellow or green!) I remember hearing TaShih respond to a student’s question about how hard to try and strike the enemy. TaShih said to strike to kill with all the power you have. The student objected, ”But I don’t want to kill him! I just want to stop him from mugging me!”

TaShih explained,” People don’t die so simply. At your rank, you don’t have the power to kill him anyway. Strike to kill and maybe you’ll hurt him. Strike to hurt, and the enemy will brush it away. When the time comes that your skill is that lethal, you will also have learned how to use force appropriate to the situation. In addition, you will learn to strike from your center and not out of fear or anger, with no control. For now, give it everything you’ve got!”

Moshe could have asked the rock to give forth water. He opted to strike the rock as he did when he used his staff to execute Hashem’s miracles at the Nile and so forth. For someone on Moshe’s level, apparently this was not the level of “technique” Hashem wanted. This was a great sin, for Moshe was on a high level and precision of action was expected.

Personally, I’ve always felt that the sin of striking the rock (and Hashem’s anger that followed) was a planned action that Hashem and Moshe had worked out. Moshe warns the Jews not to worship idols when they enter the land. He was concerned that they would worship him! So Hashem and Moshe worked out this rock-water scheme to show that Moshe was human and could make mistakes too. The Jews would see this, grow up a little, and take greater responsibility as adults in the new land, not relying on “mommy and daddy” for everything.

Either way, the level of “strike” had to be appropriate for the occasion and it wasn’t.

In the instance of Bilaam striking the donkey, we see another example of inappropriate force. According to the Kabbalah, Bilaam represents Da’at of the Klipah. In English that means his level of awareness was clouded or veiled. Imagine a grown-up reacting like a child because his clarity in understanding a situation was clouded by a strong childhood trauma. He was reacting not to the situation itself but with a memory of past pain and a fear of future pain. This describes Bilaam’s clouded vision and so he reacted in terror and panic, exaggerating his response.

Fear does cause us to overreact sometimes… see “Free-style 101, Lesson One!”

Lesson for today: Get centered, remove as many veils as possible so you see clearly, and react with actions or words that are appropriate for the situation. It’s good advice for martial artists. And remember that words (or even non-verbal body language) can be mightier than punches and kicks. Parents and teachers would do well to master this lesson 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. If any of you would like to contribute some "Torah" from time to time, send your suggestions (keep 'em short and ... in by Sunday, please) to I'll try to keep it simple and with a good Tora Dojo lesson as well.

"Tora-Torah" is published by Kodesh, Inc. Kodesh is a non-profit organization devoted to personal growth, mind-body effectiveness training, spiritual awareness. It offers programs to help the student "alter the state of his/her consciousness" through education, experience and joyful celebration.

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