Teruma 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Teruma 6 Adar I 5760 February 12, 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.

I was really worried. Several people warned me. They said “if you start this Tora-Torah thing, you’re going to have an easy time until the stories end and you get to the building of the Mishkan (the tabernacle in the desert) and the sacrifices and the Kohen/ priest stuff. Then try and find something to write about!” Even TaShih suggested to me that if I didn’t see any obvious Tora-Torah in the Parsha that I should be sure to check the Haftora. Believe me I was worried.

Once the Ten Commandments were received and some basic laws were given, the Torah turns (for the rest of the book of Shemot) to the building of the Mishkan and all the items in it and to the clothing worn by the Kohen. Well, here we are. This is the Parsha where it begins!

Surprise! Yes, it even surprised me! Let me begin by saying that this Parsha contains the most fundamental and quintessential Tora-Torah yet!

Let me start with a quote only eight verses into the Parsha:

V’asu li mikdash v’shachanti b’tocham, and they will build me a place of holiness and I will dwell amongst them. (Shemot: 25,8)

The Mishkan was a mobile pre-temple sanctuary in which the Ten Commandments (1st and 2nd editions) were kept within the ark, along with the Torah written by Moshe, and some manna. The Mishkan also housed the menorah, altar, bread-table, etc. It was enclosed in a “collapsible” curtain of wood and animal skins. When the Jews moved, they carried the Mishkan with them and when they camped, it was put together and set at the center of the camp.

One has to wonder why we need so elaborate a description of something so temporary. Why not spend all this time describing the temple of the future: the permanent home of the ark? The answer may lie in the fact that Hashem, of course, knew that the temples would be destroyed. How then would we continue the Divine meeting and dialogue with Hashem that began at Sinai?

The Gemara in Brachot (see 26b) tells us that our prayers will act as a substitute for the sacrifices. That is how we can daily converse with Hashem! We should even turn and face toward Jerusalem or, if we can’t for some reason, at least turn our hearts to the Holy of Holies. “One should imagine in his heart that he is standing in the temple within the Holy of Holies” (Orach Chaim 94:1, note 2).

In other words, we have to build ourselves as a Mishkan! We are “a holy nation and a kingdom of priests” and each of us is not only a high priest but also a mini-Mishkan where the Divine dialogue takes place! This is what the Kotzker Rebbe said of the verse we are discussing: “If you build sanctuaries within yourselves, then I will dwell in them.”

Rav Kook was more specific: “Prayer is only complete with the realization that the soul is in a constant state of prayer. She takes flight and seeks her Beloved (Hashem) continuously. During actual prayer, the constant soul prayer is revealed.” (Olat Riyah, Forward, page 11)

In other words, in our mini-Mishkan the high priest in the Holy of Holies is us! The soul is already having the Divine meeting with Hashem only we haven’t lifted the curtains to know it. In truth, to lift those veils would appear to take a tremendous degree of mental and spiritual control!

So, how do we develop this? How do we train our mind to be able to stay focused on this? How do we discipline our spiritual imagination to accomplish something so vital and yet so difficult?

Let me share one way. It’s called Tora Dojo Karate. By working at mastering this awesome art, we train our body, mind, heart, and energy systems. We prepare our temporary dwelling (our body) by fortifying our bones and muscles, our organic “beams” and “skins”. We purify our “Qi” circulatory system and all the meridians and chakras through which it travels, becoming, as it were, a single unified menorah of light with hollow arms and with its flowers and cups – energy givers and receivers. And most important, we discipline our minds to enter and touch the holy of holies (our souls) which, as we learned, are in a constant state of communication with Hashem.

Years ago, I remember TaShih going on for about 10-15 minutes in one of his inimitable comic routines (that was also quite deep) about how, if one wanted to, he could make a whole ir-religious system built around the sharpening of pencils. The point he was trying to make, as I understood it, was that almost any method could train us to reach the state of body-mind-energy readiness for a higher connection to Hashem. The danger lies in what the agenda and motives of the system are. That’s the key. Tora Dojo is a God-centered way to do it. Tora Dojo is a training method for the Godwrestler.

And while you practice it, you get the all the side benefits too! You get a healthier body in good shape. You sharpen your senses (don’t forget the incense alter in the Mishkan). You refine your energy system to enrich your life and to enable you to help others. You develop a more focused and centered mind that is better disciplined for the Godwrestling you need to do.

May we all continue to practice in building and traveling within our mobile sanctuaries for years to come.

You know, I’m not so worried about the rest of Shemot and Vayikra any more.

"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