No’ach 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Noach 5 Cheshvan 5760 October 15, 1999

Younger students, please ask your parents for help in understanding this lesson.

Shabbat Shalom. Welcome to this week’s “Tora Torah” for Parshat Noach. This week’s Tora Torah is based, at least at the beginning, on a d’var Torah by Rabbi Ari Kahn.

“These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a good and just man. He was a pure man in his generation.” [Genesis 6:9] What was the nature of Noah’s goodness?

Apparently, Noah did not partake of the licentiousness and thievery of his generation. Noah did no evil. On the other hand, we do not find him performing good deeds, either. In a sense, Noah is an island, neither hurting others, nor helping them. This is the greatness of Noah, as well as the tragedy of Noah.

The Zohar, the chief work of the Kabbalah, recounts a conversation between Noah and God that took place after the flood: God tells Noah that as the leader of his generation, he had responsibilities toward his followers. He was commanded to build the ark, yet he did not save even one person. His leadership may be compared to a shepherd who sees his flock straying from the proper path, wandering in the proximity of dangerous wolves, and concludes that the sheep deserve to be eaten because they have strayed. This is why God called him a “foolish shepherd.”

The next great religious leader was Abraham. When faced with the horrific acts of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pleads with God not to kill the good along with the evil. Noah never engaged God in a similar dialogue.

Moses went even further. After the Jews commit the terrible sin of worshipping the Golden Calf, God is prepared to destroy the entire people. Despite the people’s guilt, Moshe pleads with God, challenging Him: What could be expected of a nation which had just left Egypt and had not yet had time to develop spiritually? In the Zohar Moses is referred to as a “faithful shepherd.” Despite the people’s guilt, Moses argued with God. He even had the audacity to tell God that if God planned to wipe out the entire people, He should “wipe me out as well.”

It is fascinating that the first time we encounter Moses, he is but a three-month-old infant being placed in an ark by his mother. Rabbi Kahn suggests that as we sense this infant, floating in an ark in the Nile, it seems he is destined to begin his mission where Noah left off his own. Moses’ entire career will be that of a “faithful shepherd” always willing to sacrifice self for his flock. All of his 120 years will be devoted to this single purpose, perhaps in order to rectify Noah’s failure in the 120-year period during which he built the ark.

Tora Dojo Karate is not just for us; not just to make us strong in body and mind and spirit. Master Sober, Ta Shih —from the very first days of the system — spoke to us about how important it was to teach others: lil’mod u’le’lamed, to learn and teach. That is why Andrew Hirsch and I started the first ‘satellite’ club in January 1969, over thirty years ago! That class was the start in Tora Dojo for many of the high ranking Black Belts in the system today.

Our mandate is to strengthen our bodies, develop Kavana (which I define as ‘disciplined spiritual imagination’), learn strength of character AND to help others along the way.

Two ways to start: First, you can help bring in new students to keep your dojo thriving; we always need to have new white belts coming up through the ranks. Second, with your teacher’s permission (if he/she thinks you are ready) help teach the newer students as big brothers/sisters in the club.

This way you can follow in the Moses/Abraham dual path of both personal development and helping others at the same time.

Shabbat Shalom.

PS: “Tzohar taaseh l’tayvah” (“Make a skylight for the ark”. Gen.6:16) Tayva, in addition to ark, means ‘word’. The Baal Shem Tov: Make a skylight in your words when you study and pray, and speak to others.Discipline your mind so that you can gaze through your prayers to higher levels… and listen and look deeply to the light behind the words when others speak to you.

"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. "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.
© 1999 Michael Andron - All rights reserved. email: michael@kodesh.org