Acharei Mot 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Acharei Mot 24 Nisan, 5760 April 29, 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.

This Parsha begins after the death of the two sons of Aaron (Moses’ brother) who died in mis-service in the Mishkan. Without a doubt, nothing can be worse than the loss of a child. In this case, Aaron lost two sons. What was his reaction to this horrible tragedy? The Midrash tells us that Moshe spoke to Aaron and said: “My brother, on Sinai I learned that Hashem will dedicate the Mishkan through the death of a great man. I assumed that this meant either you or I would die. I see now that your two sons were greater than both of us.” (Vayikra Rabba 12:2). And what was Aaron’s reaction to these words? “Vayidom Aharon” (Vayikra 10:3) “Aaron was silent”.

This is not a normal silence though. It is the same word used when the great shofar is sounded and a “kol d’mama daka“, a still, small voice, is heard. The voice of heaven, the day of judgement, is heard throughout the universe and it is described as a voice of silence. It is not a silence of grief or despair. It is a silence of knowing that Hashem’s plan for the universe is in place. It is the silence we feel when we know that Hashem has a reason for something even if we don’t understand it.

One Rabbi pondered what one’s reaction to the holocaust should be. “What should our response be and what is our relation to the State of Israel which rose as a direct (political) result? From Aaron’s silence, we learn that the most relevant response is one of silence. Not the feeble silence of despair, but the silence of acceptance, the silence of Aaron. Even if we can’t understand, we must believe that all is part of the huge plan of Providence. We cannot respond, not because the words refuse to come, but because they are irrelevant and irreverent.” (Sparks of Light: p.161)

While I pray that no events of such a scope ever touch our lives, we nevertheless will have to deal with problems that arise in our lives. Will we handle them as centered and aware Jewish “peaceful-within” warriors? Will we remain focussed on the bigger picture and deal with the tragedy with some sense of equanimity?

I don’t mean we won’t hurt. I don’t mean we won’t mourn. I do mean that we might be able to see the bigger picture and hold on to the worldview that Hashem has a purpose behind it all.

When I left New York in 1981 and TaShih inherited many of my Brown and Black Belts, we had a discussion about their future. TaShih told me that when a teacher inherits an advanced student (a brown belt for example) from another teacher who might be moving away, that it would take about two years before he would even consider giving him Black Belt. I questioned: “Even if he is already 1st Kyu or candidate for Black!?”

“Yes,” he said. “In the course of two years I can see how they handle some of the bumps in life, some of the sad or tragic things that throw us off-center. I need to see how they handle these events to know how much they’ve really internalized from all this and how much is just playing the part.”

That idea affected me deeply. I had a flashback to 1971. I thought I was ready to be Black Belt. TaShih explained why I wasn’t: “You’re doing a good performance of me as a Black Belt. When it’s really you who is Black, I’ll give you the belt.”

It’s always difficult (if not impossible, early on) to know what level you’re at. Your teacher can often see something within you that you don’t see yourself. My advice to you is to not get caught up in the belts! (Easy for me to say, huh?) Focus on the lessons, internalize the worldview, practice the forms and “rehearse” the ideas. Find your spiritual center and stay there. And may your life’s challenges be met with equanimity, understanding and inner peace.

"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.