Korach 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Korach Tammuz 5, 5760 July 8, 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.

This Parsha is about Korach’s uprising against Moshe and Aaron, his first cousins. He felt that as the son of the second in line to Moshe’s father, he should be appointed as chief of the Levitedivision of the Kehotites. Although it sounds as if he wanted everything run in a democratic way, behind his argument was his quest for personal prestige and power.

Korach had been the treasurer of Pharaoh and had so many riches, the Midrash teaches us, that he had 300 white mules just to carry the keys to his treasure! Let’s speculate. What treasure did he have? After all, treasure is not only gold and possessions. Perhaps one of his treasures was the Torah. Another was prophecy. These were not enough. He wanted to be a collector and to hoard even more! He wanted everything.

His lineage was great! One of Korach’s descendants was Samuel the Prophet. Twenty-four clans of his descendants composed Psalms and sang them in the Temple. He himself saw this future prophetically! You might imagine that would be enough for anyone.

What a tragedy Korach’s life became. He was never happy with what he had (“Who is rich? He who is happy with his portion.”). He always craved more fame and power.

For Tora-Torah this week, I don’t want to focus on all the details and Midrashim of the Korach story. We can learn a great lesson in the Martial Arts from just this one aspect of Korach’s story: his lack of satisfaction with what he had and his craving for more. So often there is such a tendency to crave belts and Kata and new systems that we don’t take the time to find depth in what we already know. I remember that after years of intense training with TaShih (from white belt through ‘old’ second degree) I left New York for two years to live in South Carolina and Georgia. During the time away, without the intensity of new forms and information every week, I discovered new levels of understanding of the lessons I received years earlier.

We can even convince ourselves that we are on a “holy” quest for new forms for the sake of the art, or some such thing, when in fact it’s our ego just wanting to possess more. Korach used the holiness of the Jewish people as an argument for Moshe and Aaron to step down. “The whole congregation is holy!” he argued, so perhaps we should rotate the leadership. But that was not his true desire. Hashem saw behind the mask and punished Korach for his true intentions.

This brings to mind a wonderful story from the book “Jacob the Baker” by Noah ben Shea. If you’ve never read it, DO! He writes (I paraphrase at the end):

Imagine a boy, sitting on a hill, looking out through his innocence on the beauty of the world.

Slowly, the child begins to learn. He does this by collecting small stones of knowledge, placing one on top of the other.

Over time, his learning becomes a wall, a wall he has built in front of himself.

Now, when he looks out, he can see his learning, but he has lost his view.

This makes the man, who was once the boy, both proud and sad. The man, looking at his predicament, decides to take down the wall. But, to take down a wall also takes time, and, when he accomplishes this task, he has become an old man.

The old man rests on the hill and looks out through his experience on the beauty of the world.

He understands what has happened to him. He understands what he sees. But, he does not see, and will never see the world again, the way he saw it as a child on that, first clear morning.

The old man can remember what he once saw! Experience matures to memory. But memory is the gentlest of truths.

“Are you afraid of growing old, Jacob?” asked a young girl.

“What grows, never grows old,” said Jacob.

That story always gives me insight into the “Lao” part of LaoShih. It means “old”. It’s not chronological age (entirely). After thirty-plus years of teaching, perhaps TaShih, LaoShih Glanz and I see things a little differently.

What is the moral of these old-teacher musings? Don’t spend your life sampling every item at the martial arts smorgasbord… sit down and have a meal! Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades martial arts collector. Be a master of one. Which one? Yourself.

"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 michael@kodesh.org. I'll try to keep it simple and with a good Tora Dojo lesson as well.

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email: michael@kodesh.org