Matot-Masay 5761

Tora - Torah

Parshat Matot-Masay 1 Av, 5761 July 21, 2001

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I’d like to begin with a question raised in a Dvar Torah by Rabbi Menachem Raab… and go in a different direction with the answer. He writes The second Sidra we read this Shabbat begins by saying these are the journeys of Bnei Yisrael who came out of Mitzraim. This is strange, because the Torah proceeds to tell about the various stops they made on their journey to Eretz Yisrael. Why does it mention when they left Mitzrayim? It should have just said when they went to Eretz Yisrael. When you travel from New York to Miami you do not say this is what happened to me on my trip from New York. Instead you say this is what happened to me on my way to Miami.

The Malbim on this Pasuk explains another question that sheds light on ours. He asked why does the Torah enumerate all the different stops. Indeed, why was it necessary to make so many stops? There were 42 stops. He says that while the Jews lived in Egypt they were surrounded and immersed in the TUMA and defilement of Egypt. The purpose of the long journey and the different stops was to rid the Jews of the Tuma. At every stop they discarded, as it were, another part of their defilement. That is why the Torah mentions when they left Mitzrayim. That is because the journeys were really to leave Mitzrayim behind before they can enter in the holy land of Israel.

In the martial arts, we teachers don’t “build” a Black Belt as a clay sculptor would, adding on bits of clay (techniques, lessons, skills) until we have an expert. A good Sifu teaches a student as a stone sculptor does his work he sees the “form” of the Black Belt within the “stone” and takes away the “imperfections” until the final result (the Black Belt) is freed from the stone.

This is the reason we should always remember our early teachers as well as our later Sifu’s. They taught us about stance and basics and center and breath. They “roughed” out the sculpture. If they did their job well, the later teachers had a much easier job finishing (or continuing) the work.

Similarly, your parents may not have been able to teach you everything from graduate school or medical school, but they still take great pride in bringing you to the point where other teachers impacted on your life and took you to the next step.

In other words, don’t only focus on who will (or did) get you to Black Belt and beyond… remember also who brought you along from white belt. It’s a good lesson in respect, hakarat hatov(recognizing the good someone did for you) and in humility.

"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.

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