B’shalach 5761

Tora - Torah

Parshat B’shalach 17 Shevat, 5761 February 10, 2001

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Let me begin with an excerpt from a D’var Torah by Rabbi Ari Kahn.

The Ten Commandments are enumerated twice in the Torah. When they are repeated–specifically these two commandments, Shabbat and honoring parents–they contain the phrase “as the Lord thy God commanded you.” Clearly, this phrase would be equally apt for any or all of the Ten Commandments that had been given years before at Sinai. Why is this phrase added only to these two commandments? The Talmud asserts that some laws were actually taught at an earlier juncture, at Marah. Therefore “As the Lord thy God commanded you” refers to Marah, and not to the first tablets transmitted at Sinai. In addition, Rashi teaches that both honoring parents and parah adumah (the hard-to-understand laws of the Red Heifer) were taught at Marah.

Rabbi Ari Kahn cites Rav Yehuda Amital to clarify this teaching. When asked for guidelines for the newly-observant, Rav Amital replied that this was the educational challenge faced at Marah.

The first steps undertaken toward observance should include three categories of laws a law in the interpersonal sphere — like the prototype of honoring parents. A law concerning Shabbat, a law involving the relationship between man and God, should represent the second category. The third category, represented at Marah by the laws of parah adumah, should involve something that transcends human understanding.

He explains how the people would have been attracted to a law like honoring parents, being eminently logical and appealing to human nature. Seen through the eyes of a generation only recently redeemed from hundreds of years of subjugation in Egypt, the laws of Shabbat may also have been logically compelling.

Yet religious experience also necessitates something beyond this type of logic; it requires a transcendent component. There must be a rendezvous with the Divine.

This is the heart of religious experience. Without it, the relationship with God would be reduced to a human construct. This is what the Jews received at Marah, and should serve as the cornerstone of our own commitment.

In the Tora Dojo training of the Jewish Peaceful Warrior we also should tap into all these three categories The respect of our teachers and fellow students, the intense study of forms and the higher altered state of mindfulness and energy consciousness that goes with it, and mastering the silence that readies us for that peek experience of a transcendent reality.

These three categories form the cornerstone of what is unique about the commitment of a Tora Dojo student to his art and to his spiritual journey.


"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.
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