Ekev 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Ekev Av 18, 5760 August 19, 2000

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.

In our Parsha, Hashem commands us about food. In reviewing the forty-year trek through the desert, Moshe reminds the Israelites to observe the commandments since Hashem is bringing them to the land of Israel. There, “you will eat and you will be satisfied and bless Hashem your God.” (Deut. 8:10). We recite these words every time we “bentch” (say the Birkat Hamazon or grace after meals) and this is the source for that very mitzvah.

There are Rabbinic teachings aplenty on the subject of food. For example: It is not the eating itself that brings the blessing of being satisfied but the awareness of the blessing that you have it to eat that brings the fullness.

Similarly, the Baal Shem Tov quotes Rabbi Yochanan in Berachot (14b-15a): “Anyone who wants to take upon himself the yoke of the heavenly kingdom in a perfect way should first turn aside (or go out) and then wash his hands, put on tefillin and say the Shm’a and the T’filla (the Amida). This way one accepts the yoke of the heavenly kingdom perfectly (and completely).”

“Turn aside” (yi’paneh) is a euphemism that means to empty one’s bladder. The Baal Shem Tov interprets this idea of “emptying oneself” to mean to empty the mind of one’s thoughts. And this, he teaches, means that even during eating and drinking, one should empty oneself of all the noise in the mind and focus on the source of the blessing, namely Hashem.

This brings to mind a similar notion in the martial arts. As you know, Kara-te means “empty hand”. The earlier version of that word Kara meant Chinese (specifically the Tang dynasty) but the current Japanese character (also pronounced Kara) means empty.

Most people understand the basic meaning of the word Kara-te (empty hand) to mean fighting with bare hands and fists without weapons.

But Funakoshi, father of Japanese Karate, explains further.

“Just as the clear mirror reflects without distortion, or the quiet valley echoes a sound, so must one who would study Karate-do purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, for only with a clear mind and conscience can he understand that which he receives… He who would study Karate-do must always strive to be inwardly humble and outwardly gentle… Thus he is like the green bamboo stalk: hollow (Kara) inside, straight, and with knots, that is, unselfish, gentle and both moderate and strong in character.”

In this quote, if we were to interchange the words “learning Karate-do” with the words “accepting the yoke of heaven”, the advice would still be true! Just “eating” — or practicing Kara-te — without working on character and inner development is “gluttony”. One will never be satisfied and one will never experience the full blessings that will follow.

"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.

© 2000 Michael Andron - All rights reserved.
email: michael@kodesh.org