Toldot 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Toldot 4 Kislev 5760 November 13, 1999

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

Here is an interesting bit of martial arts exhibited very early on in the birth of the Jewish people: The Torah tells us that Jacob was born “…holding on to the heel of Esau” (Gen: 25:26), his twin brother. One midrash tells us that Jacob wasn’t trying to hold Esau back. Esau was pushing against him with his foot and kicking him, trying to jam Jacob back into the womb. So Jacob grabbed Esau’s foot and pulled himself out.

Sometimes we strike to extend a force outward … and sometimes we yield and use the opponent’s technique or strength to our advantage and to his own disadvantage. Consider the application of that idea to the following moves:
Think about the scoop on the attacking kick at the end of Kata #3 before the back fist
OR the front-kick pulling back in kata #4 which would draw the opponent in for the hammer fist
OR the circling back-elbow and ‘sticky-hands’ back- fist in kata #6
OR the side kick at the end of TaShih’s form
not to mention most soft blocking, Tai Ji and Ba Gua.
While there are other ways of looking at these moves, we can learn new applications to these techniques from ‘Jacob’s principle’. (And just wait till he wrestles with the angel!)

deeper use of that principle: sometimes the very thing that is obstructing you and pushing you back can be the handhold to help you pull yourself out of your predicament and pry open the gates for your emergence if you just manage to grasp it the right way. (Rabbi Wolfe-Blanke based on Rebbe Yechezkel of Kuzmir in Divrei Yisrael quoted in P’ninay Hachasidut)

Something else: What was in Yitzchak’s mind in wanting to give the blessing to Esav instead of Yaakov! Yaakov Fogelman explains Rav Yehuda Henkin: Yitzchak wants to continue his heritage from Avraham with a person who combines Torah and worldly acumen. The problem is that Yaakov hasn’t exhibited any worldly talents. Better to appoint Esav his successor; at least he has earned his own food (25:28)! Maybe he’ll keep the mission going and later turn to Torah… but at least he’ll survive! Under tent-dwelling Yaakov, the mission might be lost altogether!

But Rivka (Yaakov’s marketing agent) wants to show Yitzchak that Yaakov can master the world too… he just hasn’t bothered to do it yet; he is dwelling in the tents for the moment… yet Esav, Rivka saw, is an irredeemable ‘man of the field’ and will never turn to Torah. When Yitzchak hears the voice of Yaakov amidst the alleged hands of Esav he is overjoyed at the combination. When he finally learns about Yaakov’s trick, Yitzchak remains happy and still extends the blessing! He knows now that Yaakov does know how to survive in the rat race of our pre-messianic world, combining Torah and real life!

Tora Dojo practitioners are often asked: isn’t all this training a bitul zman (a waste of time), to learn ‘warfare’ when you could be studying Torah?

The answer is twofold: first with Tora Dojo we are learning aspects of Torah too (shlemut haguf perfection or development of the body — is a mitzvah; self-defense is a mitzvah; and teaching your child to defend him/herself is just as important as teaching them to swim, also a mitzvah).

Secondly, and perhaps more important, is the fact that we are not yet in messianic times. There are dangers in living in the world today and our ability to keep a clear and focused mind in times of stress and danger is critical to our overall mission of bringing a better light into the world. If we were to become overly obsessed with fighting without the BALANCE of inner development and Torah insight, then we would be too much like Esav. We should be grateful for the vision that TaShih had in creating a system that integrates the world of Tora (tiger) and Torah in such a perfect balance. L’Chaim! (TaShih’s Hebrew name!)

"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. If any of you would like to contribute some "Torah" from time to time, send your suggestions (keep 'em short and ... in by Monday, 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.
© 1999 Michael Andron - All rights reserved.