Vayera 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Va’Yera 18 Cheshvan 5760 October 28, 1999

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

Yoshev petach ha’ohel… va’yi’sa aynav v’ya’ar… va’yaar va’yaratz (Genesis 18:1-2)
The Parsha begins by telling us that Avraham is sitting by the opening of the tent, eyes lowered. He then raises his eyes, sees the three men, understands that they are angels (hence, explains Rashi, the two-time use of the word v’ya’ar), and he gets up and runs to them. In this simple opening sentence, we can learn the perfect model for martial arts living and deeper Jewish living as well!

Many teachers of Jewish meditation (Rabbi David Zeller included, who shared this with me) understand ‘sitting’ to mean that Abraham was sitting in a state of deep contemplation. For example, Rav Nachman of Bratzlav wrote (in Divrei Noa’am) that sitting implies sitting an extended period of time, as in “They sat (or stayed) in Kadesh for many days“. Thus Avraham merited that Hashem reveal Himself to him because he sat and waited at the threshold of the opening of the tent, which is the threshold of holiness. We see this use of the word ‘shev’ with Mordechai as well in Megilat Esther (2:19): “yoshev b’shaar hamelech“, that Mordechai also sat/meditated at the threshold of the King (Hashem, not Achashverosh).

But we learn even more from our Parsha: Avraham sat, raised his eyes… and then ran. He is a model for what the Ba’al Shem Tov describes as an eved ne’eman, a faithful servant. A faithful servant exemplifies three states of being: submission, separation and sweetening (hach’na’ah, havdala, hamtaka). He is submissive, humble and ego-less before Hashem; he separates from the mundane world and reaches to the highest ‘light’ his consciousness can reach; and he brings this light back into the world to sweeten it.

Other schools of meditation are more than happy if we can reach the first two stages: a state of humble ego-less-ness and a soaring of the spirit. What the Baal Shem Tov suggests is something that makes Jewish Meditation different: that sweetening the world, or repairing the world (Tikun), is essential to the meditation that precedes it. It’s not enough, after sitting patiently, to just touch the light for your own satisfaction; you must help others to reach the light as well.

Avraham sits in submission to Hashem (v’hu yoshev), raises his eyes as high as he can in meditation (va’yi’sa aynav) and touches the light (v’ya’ar) and understands its meaning (v’ya’ar, the second time), and then leaves his meditation and comes back to ‘earth’ and runs to greet the strangers and prepare a meal. After reaching so high in prophecy that he realizes that angel/messengers from Hashem are in his presence, he comes back to earth (artza) and deals with the most mundane of physical acts, eating. He understood that one serves Hashem not only in lofty meditative states, but in the most mundane acts of day-to-day living.

For a number of years I published a newsletter (The Y.E.S. Letter). Y.E.S. stands for ‘yield, energize, sweeten’, another way of remembering the Baal Shem Tov’s formula for the faithful servant (of submission, separation and sweetening).

As far as every act of Jewish life is concerned, JUST SAY Y.E.S.!

Before a mitzvah of any kind, direct your mind (Kavana) to being in the presence of Hashem, reach as high as you can in that mode of mindfulness… and then act, knowing that your action will help to repair and sweeten the world.

How do you train to do this most difficult thing? Your Tora Dojo training helps you every day.

  1. YIELD: As you practice forms, ‘know before whom you stand’ . ‘Sit’ for a while, meditating on what you’re doing and get into the right state of mind.
  2. ENERGIZE: Imagine the light of Hashem (Ohr Ain Sof / Qi) around you. If you have learned Qi Gong, energy discipline from your teacher, practice that.
  3. SWEETEN: Then DO your movement within that state of consciousness. Your teacher will help you understand how to do this.

As you master this state of mindfulness in Tora Dojo, so you can extend it to your practice of Mitzvot… and not just ritual ones! It’s not enough to be a Godwrestler! You also have to be a mentch when relating to others. Remember that we each have a spark of Hashem inside of us. When we deal with people it’s important to try to remember that. Then, all of the interpersonal Mitzvot (bain adam l’chavero) will become second nature to us.

 

A simple summary: How to be both a mentch and a Godwrestler? Just say Y.E.S. !

 

"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. 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 michael@kodesh.org. 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.
email: michael@kodesh.org