Ekev 5761

Tora - Torah

Parshat Ekev 22 Av, 5761 August 11, 2001

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Rabbi Menachem Raab writes a beautiful D’var Tora this week: The Torah says that Moshe spoke to the people and said to them: SHEMA YISRAEL, today you cross the Jordan. (Deut. 9;1) The question asked here is why did Moshe have to mention SHEMA YISRAEL at this time. The Midrash  (Devarim Rabbah 3;10) gives a very interesting interpretation. It says that this may be likened to a king who married a woman and gave her two valuable gems. She eventually lost one of them and the king said to her, “You lost one of them, be careful with the other not to lose it”.

Judaism survives because of two concepts, NA’ASEH (we will do it) VENISHMA (and we will listen and learn it). We perform the Mitzvot and live up to the laws of the Torah, and we also learn so as to know what the laws are. Moshe admonishes the people before their crossing into the Land of Israel that they had abandoned the NA’ASEH (the performing) when they created the Golden Calf. At least at this point, he says to them, SHEMA YISRAEL, you must remember the other concept of NISHMA, to learn, so that you will know in the future what is expected of you.

In our busy lives today we have two kinds of people. There are some who learn and know but when it comes to performing they are very weak, especially in the area of the laws of BEN ADAM LECHAVERO, the laws that pertain to dealings between man and his fellow man.

On the other hand, there are people who are nice and good but they do not learn. Sooner or later they will run into situations where they are at a total loss as to how to act according to Jewish principles. Chazal tell us, the ignorant cannot be pious. There is also a noteworthy famous discussion in the Gemara as to what is more important, learning or performing. The conclusion is that learning is more important because it leads to performance.

The positive way, essential for us, is to have both concepts as part of our character and behavior. We should learn and we should also perform. That way we are in possession of both “gems”.

There are two types of Martial Artists. The first do many forms, know lots of moves and fight well… but practice with little depth.  The second knows fewer forms (perhaps) but understand them more deeply and in a broader historical, practical and spiritual context. Moreover, because of this greater understanding, the latter practices on a deeper plane and reaches levels not accessible to the former. In fact, given a new style or form to explore, the second type has the advantage of bringing more understanding towards the mastery of the new system. Indeed, that is the challenge of studying new styles altogether!

Also, it’s not uncommon for the “gem collectors” to amass many “riches” and to become jacks-of-all-trades-and-forms… and master of none.

Tora Dojo has always valued those in possession of “both gems”. But if I had to make a choice, I think the second would prevail. In Tora Dojo… as in Torah… our motto could easily be nishma v’na’asehwe will learn as broadly and as deeply as we can, and we will practice until the lessons are truly ours.

"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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