Behar 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Behar 15th Iyar, 5760 May 20, 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.

Two of the key goals of Tora Dojo are (or should be for any bona fide martial art) to help the student find a centered state of inner peace and to learn to how to live one’s life from that center. One of the key obstacles to that path is the ego.

The ego is like a mask that our soul wears that helps us deal with the day-to-day challenges we face. Just as we would not confuse a mask with the actor wearing it, we should not confuse our ego with the soul that wears it.

Let me explain. The actor, in this example, is the soul that is the spark of divine energy. It keeps us “logged on” to Hashem all the time. But the “data flow” between Hashem and our soul is a still, small voice. It is the part of us we encounter in meditation mostly. The mask, in our example, is the ego that is the “face” we wear to confront the world. It covers so much of our face (our soul) that the actor can barely see out or function beneath it. In addition, the rest of the world only sees the face that is permanently carved on the mask and never gets to see the actor.

Years ago I saw a live performance by Marcel Marceau, the great mime. He portrayed a man in a mask store trying on all the different masks: happy ones, sad ones, angry ones, etc. When he put on the angry one it got stuck on his face so that when he left the store, everybody saw only his angry mask-face. Yet beneath the mask was a frightened person trying to remove the mask.

We are both the actor and the mask. Our effort should be to use the mask only when we need to and, more importantly, to always let the personality of the actor beneath (the soul, that is) shine through.

While our ego is much less durable and far more fragile than the soul, it is much louder and gets and keeps our attention a lot of the time! When some event occurs in our lives, our ego jumps in to protect us and to provide the right persona, the right mask, to deal with the situation. For example, we might need to assert ourselves to get something accomplished. This is not a bad thing. As long as we can keep some trace of awareness “logged on” to the spiritual side of us, (that is, to remember that we are the actor) we can assert all we want. For example, Moshe was humble to Hashem (the most humble man ever) but he knew when to use the strength of his great leadership to get something done. That apparent lack of humility was only the mask worn by his trulyhumble-before- Hashem soul.

How do we develop this dual awareness of an ego-mask worn by the soul? In the martial arts, we practice it by finding the balance between Kata (the assertive-side training, including breaking, combat, etc.) and meditation (Qi Gung).

In Tora Dojo, we find some very helpful advice from some great Rebbeim who look at certain passages in our Parsha from the soul’s inner perspective.

“The land will rest a Shabbat to Hashem.” (Lev. 25:2) Says Rebbe Mordechai Yoseph of Izhbitz: Everywhere it says aretz, it also refers to the heart. This pasuk encourages us to use Shabbat (or shmita, the shabbat for the land every seven years) as a sabbatical of the heart, to find inner peace. But we must remember to let Shabbat do that for us.

Do not oppress your brother (Lev 25:14). Reb Yisachar Dov of Zlotchov says this Pasuk suggests we not oppress ourselves! In other words, when we are truly at our spiritual center, the center of our souls, our ego is seen for what it really is: it is something other than our true selves. It is like our brother.

“Do not oppress your friend. Fear Hashem.” (Lev 25:17) Rebbe Shlomo of Radomsk teaches not to oppress your peers by pretending to fear or love Hashem more than they do. That would be the ego talking and not the soul at all!

Summing up: The Jewish Peaceful Warrior of Tora Dojo should take the time in prayer/meditation and Shabbat to find the soul’s true center. Accept your ego as a necessary mask you wear when you need it to get things done. Don’t fool yourself though, into believing it is who you are. That will lead to “oppression” of the soul and sadness. Operating from the real center should bring joy and harmony, just as being in a good, physical stance brings balance and harmony of movement. Finally, don’t let too much Kata and meditation go to your head (your ego-head, that is) making you proud and arrogant. That will oppress your soul and your friends as well.

"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.