Vayakhel 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Vayakhel 27Adar I 5760 March 4, 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.

The actual building of the Mishkan (the tent-sanctuary) in the desert begins with a warning about not working on Shabbat. Hashem seems to be telling us that even for the most important work possible — bringing the divine presence, the Shechina, into the world— we must allow for the holiness of Shabbat. Put another way, the holiness of space must make room for the holiness of time.

We can see a contemporary example of that principle. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the study of Newtonian physics explained everything that was visible. When the science of “quantum physics” came along, it essentially taught: the physics of the sensory world is only a special case within a larger framework. The world of the very small (sub-atomic) and the very large (galactic) may operate by a slightly different set of rules. Within our local, visible time-space bubble, Newtonian physics still ruled… but we must understand that there is bigger reality. Scientists still search for the unified theory that explains all of it together.

The Mishkan, the Temple in Jerusalem, and the Holy of Holies were the holiest of places within the sensory universe. Nevertheless, because they exist within the physical, sensory world, they may disappear from our view… as they have. But, the holiness of time as reflected in Shabbat, never leaves us. It is the envelope within which the holiness of space exists. Hashem was giving us an example of the unified holiness theory: for something to be holy (separate from the mundane) it must reflect the larger envelopes of holiness within which it exists. Holy space exists within holy time.

Seeing “time” as such a lofty thing should be easy for us. In Judaism, we sanctify time all the time! Shabbat, Yamim Tovim, new moons, new years (and we celebrate four of them… not counting the Chinese one!)

Time is also a critical factor in the martial arts. For example, you can learn a new technique, but it takes time for it to become yours. A talented student can imitate something perfectly, but it needs rehearsal and time to be fully assimilated… to become your own.

When Sifu Joel Comet (now an excellent Fifth Degree Black Belt) was a beginner, I would teach him a technique, he would do it a few times and, because of his natural ability and talent, he would do it well quickly. He would often come over two minutes later with a barrage of questions. I remember setting a special rule for him (I called it the Comet rule): go home, practice it for a few days, and then I will answer your questions. Invariably, by the time he had worked with the technique for a few days, he had already answered most of the questions himself.

We invoke the importance of time at Black Belt too. When we finally award the belt, we ask that the student continue in the same class for at least a year to “grow into” the belt. Why? It takes time to make it your own. Most of the time, it takes that long to believe that you finally got the belt at all!

This lesson is brought out beautifully in one of my favorite stories from the Sufi tradition. It tells of a Master Sufi healer and his young apprentice. One day they stood by the window and saw a patient coming to see them. The Master sighed as he observed the person’s walk, his breathing, his facial color. Reading all the signs, he said, “Ah, that person need pomegranates to be healed.”

The student, anxious to please his master, said, “Master, since you have already given the diagnosis, let me tell the patient the cure!”

The Master agreed and hid behind the curtain. The patient came into the Master’s office and immediately the student said, “You need pomegranates!”

The patient screamed, “You think you know everything. I haven’t even told you where I hurt!” and he ran out in a huff.

The confused student asked the Master what he did wrong. The Master, gazed out the window and pondered how he would teach the young student the lesson he needed to learn. As he stood, he observed another patient walking toward the office. Assessing all the signs, he said, “Here comes another person who needs pomegranates. I will tend to him. Watch and learn.”

The patient entered. The Master asked him to sit, served him some tea, made some small talk about his family, and finally asked him how he was doing. He listened as the patient went down his whole list of complaints. When the patient was done, the Sufi sat and thought for two or three minutes in silence as if pondering the correct diagnosis. Then he spoke.

“Your case is an interesting one. For a cure, to help you connect to the energy of the earth, you clearly need something that grows from a tree. It should be round, to eliminate some of the sharp pains you have. It must be red to provide you with the high levels of physical energy that you need and it must have many seeds rather than a single pit to reach each of your various symptoms. Ah, I have it. The pomegranate is the perfect cure.”

The patient took it happily, told the Master that he was the best healer in the world and left… already feeling much better. The student had a puzzled look on his face. “Master, I don’t understand! Each patient had the same complaints and we each told him to take pomegranates. My patient left angrily and yours left completely at ease!”

“Ah”, said the master, “they each had the same diagnosis but you left out half the treatment. The patients each needed time and pomegranates.”

This is why we tell our students to practice with patience and perseverance. Time is a necessary requirement for a new bit of wisdom to become internalized and yours. And, no matter how old the wisdom, it’s new to you! Even when B’nai Yisrael was rushing to build the Mishkan, Hashem told them that time, Shabbat, was needed for them to fully appreciate and understand the holiness of what they were doing.

Practice in peace, with patience and perseverance.

"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.

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