Re’eh 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Re’eh Av 25, 5760 August 26, 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.

There is a very famous story of a well-published professor with several doctorates going to a Zen master to further explore Zen. The Master invites him to tea. As the master prepares the tea (a very elaborate ceremony) the professor recounts endlessly all the articles and books on Zen he has written and all of his scholastic achievements in that field. The Zen master listens and smiles as he continues to pour tea to the top of the cup until it overflows. The professor notices the tea overflowing onto the table and, slightly embarrassed, says “Master, the tea is overflowing onto the table. The cup is full!”

“Yes”, replied the Zen master. “And when the cup is full there is no more room for any tea. If you want more tea, first empty the cup!”

Hopefully, the professor got the message with his head full of facts and information and endless credentials, there is no more “room” for the experience of the enlightened mind that Zen is all about.

The Parsha of the week begins with the words “See, I have set before you, this day, blessing and curse”(Deut. 1126). What is meant by “blessing”? Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev taught that being blessed is the awareness of having done the will of Hashem. We do not do the mitzvah for reward of physical security or emotional strength or to avoid the guilt of not doing the mitzvah. We do the mitzvah because it is Hashem’s will.

In his book God at the Center, author David Blumenthal (paraphrased and quoted in the next three paragraphs) writes that Rav Levi warns that “even service to God for its own sake can grow into a trap. Doing a mitzvah because we feel we are serving a greater purpose (for example, fulfilling of religious obligations for social, historical, or lesser emotional rewards) runs the danger of leading us into “curse” – into false pride and pseudo-piety.

So the deeper level of “blessing” that Rav Levi guides us towards is the state of joy when we realize Hashem’s greatness and the inadequacy of our action. Levi Yitzchak’s best advice is to rid oneself of all pretension of having achieved spirituality, to rid oneself of all claims of “being religious”. Rather, he counsels, one should become a vessel prepared to receive the flow of God’s continuous presence, for only an empty vessel is capable of being filled.

True blessing is an emptying of ourselves of our pious vanities and, in that emptiness, perhaps being worthy of being filled with the eternal presence of God.

In Tora Dojo, as in all authentic martial arts, we must empty the mind of ego and smug attitudes of accomplishment before we can fill ourselves with something truly authentic.

In other words, to get more tea, empty your cup.

To get more “T” (T for Tora and Torah), empty your yiddishe kup!

"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 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.