Ki Tisa 5761

Tora - Torah

Parshat Ki Tisa 22 Adar, 5761 March 17, 2001

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The following (in blue) is excerpted from more lengthy Dvar Torah by Rabbi Noson Weisz

The Gaon of Vilna repeatedly declares that the major purpose of sending man down into the world was to work on his midot. [See Even Shlema 1,1.]

The word midah in Hebrew means “measure.” All of our interactions with the world have to be measured. Suppose A insults B. B is flooded with a feeling of rage. The feeling is beyond his control, but his response to the feeling is not. Thus B has several options to choose from. He can insult A in return. He can strike him or take out a gun and kill him. He can challenge him to a duel. He can swallow his rage and walk away.

If B is a person without self-control, he will select the behavior option that matches the intensity of his rage and allows it its most perfect expression. Most humans have a fair amount of self-control so this is unlikely to happen. Several of B’s theoretical options might be closed to him by the laws of society and by social conventions, leaving him with a more limited selection of options from which to choose. As long as B expresses his rage with only these considerations in mind — i.e. the best way to convey what he feels, and the socially acceptable method of expressing it — he does not come near to expressing his midot, even though he is acting with self-control.

In order to behave with midot, B has to go through an entirely different exercise on top of the ones mentioned above, which are automatic and instinctive to all human beings. He has to ask himself what God would do in such a situation and attempt to model his own response on the projected Divine one.

Character is the only aspect of man that is his own creation. The body is a given and the soul comes straight from God. It is only in his midot, the unique blend of mind and emotion that each person develops through the exercise of his free will, that he becomes an enduring individual. Moreover it is also through the midot that he fashions that each human being develops his own way of fulfilling the commandment of vehalachta bidrochov, of “following in God’s ways.”


My Yoga teacher DeVries often said, “The first and last lesson of yoga is character”. In Tora Dojo, where you may literally have the power of life and death at your fingertips, it could never be truer.

The first and last lesson of Tora Dojo is developing good midot.

"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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