Vayeshev 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Vayeshev 25 Kislev 5760 December 4, 1999

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.

Yaakov’s (Jacob’s) ‘house’ was divided into two opposing camps: the brothers whose mission it was to preserve the Am Yisrael, keeping Torah and knowledge of Hashem alive within the nation. Diametrically opposite was the mission of Yoseph (Joseph), the Rachel side, which was to bring Torah to the world. Only he could survive in Egypt.

Clearly the brothers didn’t understand Yoseph. We see three reasons given for their hatred mounting: First, when the brothers saw his coat of many colors (37:4), they hated him and couldn’t talk to him. Then, second, when he dreamed a dream (37:5) and, third, he told them about the dream (37:5), they hated him even more.

These three phrases defined who Yoseph was. First, his coat of many colors represented his acceptance of the yoke of Torah and it’s full spectrum spiritual light. He happily ‘wore’ this coat. Second, his dreaming represented his ability to separate from the mundane world and touch the infinite light. Third and finally, his telling of the dream represented his desire to sweeten and repair the world by bringing that light back to our mundane level of existence.

Yoseph was the perfect representation of the tzaddik, the faithful servant that the Baal Shem Tov defines: submission, separation and sweetening or Yield, Energize, and Share/sweeten (see Tora Torah on Parshat Vayera). He knew how to say Y.E.S.!

The test for Yoseph, though, was when he was out in the world. Anyone can be spiritual when living in a cave on a mountain top, so to speak. How did he do when he was in the pit and in Egypt, in the real world, when life was challenging him continuously? How well did he apply the lessons he learned?

The Sfas Emes (Yehuda Aryeh Lieb of Ger) points out the use of the verb ‘to be’. In 39:2, when he entered Potifar’s house, it says vayehi several times, telling us that Hashem was with him and he was successful. Later, just before Potifar’s wife tried to seduce him, it again says vayhi. The Sfas Emes explains that this verb is used here to teach the idea of ‘remaining in existence’ or ‘not being susceptible to change’. No matter where Yoseph was he remained the tzaddik, the faithful servant, unchangeable in his connection to who he was and his relationship to Hashem.

Life often challenges us with ‘random’ events that are really part of the plan. It’s easy to forget who we are and why we’re here and why these things are happening to us. In 1965, when TaShih was in the hospital suffering with toxic megacolon, his teacher came to him at the hospital and was very upset with him. “They tell me this disease is caused, in part, by the mind… that it has a large psycho-genic component. Is that true?” When TaShih told him it was, he rebuked him and said, “Do you know who you are?” He challenged him to use the techniques of mind, energy and spirit that he had learned in the martial arts to heal himself, to use this meditative power to fight against this disease! He had come so far physically and, in the pain of the disease, seemed to have forgotten that critical mind-energy lesson.

One might say that at that moment TaShih remembered his ‘name’: Chaim Yisrael. He remembered that the Godwrestler within him always lives and must struggle and fight against this test that Hashem had given him. We, the recipients of his teachings for almost 35 years, are grateful he remembered.

When we find ourselves thrust in to the narrows of Egypt (the word Mitzraim, Egypt, means narrows), and something in life seems overwhelming, we must use our Tora Dojo lessons to stay centered and balanced and aware of our capacity to remember who we are.

Let me conclude with an outrageous play on words. Look at Psalms 118:5. “From the narrow straits, I called upon Hashem” is read in Hebrew: “Min Ha’maytzar, Karati Kah” (we read ‘Kah’, not ‘Yah’ so as not to say Hashem’s name). We can playfully interpret this: When we are in difficult straits (maytzar) or challenging times in life, remember that you are a karate-ka, a Tora Dojo Jewish Peaceful Warrior, and use your self-discipline of body, heart, mind and spirit to bring you out from the narrows to a wider view.

Excuse the pun, but the lessons stands: remember who you are.

By the way, TaShih always translates that verse: From the depths of my soul Oh Lord, my Karate is for you! Each artist creates and expresses his relationship with Hashem through his art. If karate is as true and deep an art for you, every form you do is like a prayer to the Infinite One.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah!

"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 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