Sh’lach 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Shelach Sivan 28, 5760 July 1, 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.

One of the most applicable lessons TaShih ever taught was that, as life goes on, we tend to be weak in transition. I can almost hear him say the words as I write. When we move from one stance to the next, when we change jobs, change relationships, change living conditions, change wardrobes, move from one city to another or even one house or apartment to another, change diets, even cross the street. The tendency of man is to be weak in transition. To make matters more difficult, everything is in a constant state of change! Take these two lessons together and it seems we would always be weak!

What should our goal be? Our goal should be to learn to be strong in transition. We have to master our stance so that anywhere and at any time, we are centered and rooted and therefore ready for any force that comes to knock us over. This is true for the physical stance we are in and any force that comes to uproot us, as well as for any emotional, psychological or spiritual stance and force that comes our way.

How do we become strong in transition? We practice it until it becomes second nature. Moving in stance is the ultimate exercise. Bringing our feet together and moving out into a stance is the perfect drill to find and keep our center. Tai Qi is even more specific, practicing the subtleties of moving within the stance itself. Pushing hands tests that center over and over again.

In our Parsha, Moshe sends the spies to check out the land of Israel. This is a time of great national transition. For the first time we might have to leave the life of nomads where we are completely reliant on Hashem, and see if we are ready to be more self-reliant. Most of the spies, though they were great men, succumbed to fear and lost their center. They were weak in transition. The Zohar explains the innermost fears of the spies “Here in the desert we eat bread from heaven and have no financial worries; we have ample time to sit and learn Torah. However if we are to enter the land of Israel, we will have to learn to work the land and this will disturb our spiritual pursuits.” (Zohar III, 152a)

Only two of the spies saw how to be strong in transition Joshua and Caleb. Their secret was to find balance between the physical effort of taking over the land and the spiritual effort of keeping a Torah center. And we see in our Parsha that the group of Jews that tried to enter the land without the Ark of the Covenant was defeated. Israel today could learn a few lessons here.

Once again, the image of Jacob’s ladder comes to mind; Being rooted to the earth with the head reaching the heavens. The secret to being strong in transition was to be rooted to the physical with a strong spiritual center.

There is an amazing, ancient, oral tradition among the Japanese called kototama. It is over 3000 years old. It tells of a “summit-like” meeting of all the spiritual teachers of the world coming together to discuss how their efforts are coming along. As they each tell the others what they are doing to spread spirituality on the planet, one person gets up and says, ” I thought our job was not just to be spiritual but to raise the physical to the spiritual!” All the participants of the summit began to buzz to one another. Of course! How could they have forgotten their mission! The leader of the summit said, “One of us must take the responsibility for the whole world to raise the physical to the spiritual. Then the rest of us can focus on the spiritual alone! Who would like to volunteer?” No one did. They each looked away hoping the leader wouldn’t call on them! So the leader chose the Jew and said, “We will all keep doing what we do quietly for our individual nations and cultures. It will be your job to raise the physical to the spiritual for the whole world!”

Amazing isn’t it! When I mentioned this legend to TaShih, he had heard it, of course. He suggested as well, it might even help explain why Japanese anti-Semitism is so great.

To remember to do this overwhelming work of raising the physical to the spiritual, we need to constantly remember why we are here and to do it. It wouldn’t hurt to have a string to tie around our finger to remember what the spies forgot.

And so the Parsha ends with the mitzvah of Tzitzit. When we look at the Tzitzit we see all the commandments tied together. We probably all know the famous calculation the gematria of the wordTzitzit is 600 + 5 knots + 8 strings = 613 Mitzvot in the Torah. The perfect reminder to be a Jacob’s ladder and raise the physical to the spiritual is the Tzitzit.

Let me go one step further into the realm of the Jewish peaceful warrior. It says V’haya lachem l’Tzitzit, which we could translate as “and it will be to you for a Tzitzit”. We could also translate it as “and you shall be a tzitz“! What is a tzitz? A tzitz is a small sprout that is rooted to the earth yet pokes its small phototropic head out to see (and receive) the light of the sun. We should each be atzitz! We should be rooted to the physical yet raise our head to the spiritual. If each of us were perfectly balanced in the physical and spiritual, we would not succumb to the danger of being “weak in transition”. A good lesson for the spies, a good lesson for us, a good lesson for the world.

"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.

© 2000 Michael Andron - All rights reserved.