June 13, 2016, Israel
They call it the School of Hard Knocks, yes, we get knocked around, we get hit hard and hopefully...we learn lessons. But not everyone learns.
My father of blessed memory always spoke of this school, but there really is no such school, it is the school of life; we make mistakes and we learn. Or, we do not learn.
Sometimes we have to learn harsh lessons but we can only learn these from people we respect, from people whom we know care about us.
I was very young, in rabbinical school and my aunt suggested I meet a certain rabbi. She was hoping this rabbi would introduce me to my future wife as he was the dean of a girls school. We spent many hours together and discussed many topics but for some strange reason he never raised the topic of women, of finding a wife. Finally it was time to leave and I wondered why we wasted so much time and never discussed the reason I came here. Oh how young and foolish I was. As I was about to leave he said these words, "Moshe, I know a thousand women but none of them are for you. But I will tell you this dear Moshe, the one who says yes will be the real McCoy".
What he meant was, and I was only to discover this years later, is that I do not fit the mold and therefore finding a match in life would be challenging. More than thirty years later I see the wisdom in his words but at the time it was a harsh pill to swallow. One must know themselves.
A few years later I was still in rabbinical college. I was beginning to run out of money and options. I went to seek professional advice at the local Jerusalem office for young Americans. The advice was harsh and blunt. If you want to succeed here in Israel you will have to get a proper education. We advise you strongly to go to New York, work hard, save some money and earn a useful degree. It was harsh advice, but it was the truth. Reluctantly, with great pain, I accepted this advice. I left the warmth of Jerusalem and relocated to New York. It would take more than four years to return with the "goods".
I accepted the advice even though I "didn't want to hear it".
In New York I recall a Sabbath lunch with my older brother and a few cousins and their friends. I did not take kindly to the Liberal American Jewish attitudes about Israel and I expressed my opinions rather bluntly. I knew I was right and I backed up every argument with solid proof. And then when we left my brother said harsh and true words.
"Yes, you were correct but you did not have to treat them this way. You were so correct you smashed them to little bits, put them in your back pocket, sat on them and crushed them. You annihilated them. There was no need for this."
I took those harsh words to heart. Today I am known as somewhat of a diplomat. I do all I can to avoid hurting someone, no matter how wrong they are and no matter how much proof I have. I do not need to crush them with the truth. Sometimes they need time to figure it out, or not. But crushing them does not help.
We can only receive such rebuke and advice when we truly respect the person giving it, and we know they intend only the best for us. Giving and receiving rebuke is not easy but all of the above cases were turning points in my life, moments of awareness and enlightenment.
We do not always need to crush our "opponents". Walking away and leaving them some semblance of self respect is OK. Not everyone is ready to hear the message and see the light. One must be careful with rebuke.
אַל תּוֹכַח לֵץ פֶּן יִשְׂנָאֶךָּ הוֹכַח לְחָכָם וְיֶאֱהָבֶךָּ
"Do not rebuke the fool lest he come to hate you, rebuke the wise and he will love you". (Proverbs chapter 9)
Biblical fighting and lessons from ancient Israel, the roots of Krav Maga and the Israeli fighting spirit.
Required reading for ALL IKI instructors.
The unique morality and ethics of the Israeli army and its nation of warriors.
$9.99 on KindleIsrael, A Nation of Warriors