Toldot 5761

Tora - Torah

Parshat Toldot 5 Kislev, 5761 December 2, 2000

Something Old:
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Something New:

In thinking about some of the differences between Yaakov and Esav, I came across this excerpt from an essay by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin.

The sage Yehudah, the son of Teima, made two statements that are cited in the fifth chapter of Ethics of the Fathers. One is that we should, “Be as bold (az) as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion, to do the will of our Heavenly Father (ibid. 523).” Here we see that being bold is a virtue.

In his next statement, the sage uses the strongest language to condemn someone who is an “az ponim,” that is, someone who is brazen.

What makes the difference between the quality that is very positive and the one that is very negative?

One distinction stated by Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin. True courage is that which is inside your heart. You speak and act with courage, but you do not make an issue of it to anyone else. The Hebrew words for the negative form of brazenness is “az ponim;” this would be translated as “insolence on one’s face.” Here the chutzpah is recognizable on one’s face. That is not the positive attribute of having inner courage.

Isn’t that a perfect quality for the “Jewish Peaceful Warrior” (the Yisrael I always write and talk about)? We spend countless hours trying to be “as bold as a tiger, as light as a crane in flight, as swift as a mantis”. If we let our successes go to our heads and ego, it will surely spill out onto our faces and become the persona the world perceives. Better for our strength to be an inner one and better for the purpose behind all that hard work and practice to be “to do the will of our Heavenly Father”.

"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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