January 30, 2015
Air Canada, flight 997, Mexico City to Vancouver, Canada,
Coffee served, "Second cup"
I have had the privilege of training a young woman who had her hand and forearm blown off by terrorists. I had the privilege of training a Norwegian man who lost his arm and part of his leg in a terrible motorcycle accident. I had the privilege of training a young man in California confined to a wheel chair.
In my eyes these are the true warriors, the true heroes, the brave ones.
A song after the storm, a song after the rain (Yehuda Poliker), a song of bravery and courage.
David defeated Goliath and Anne Frank defeated Hitler. Yes, Hitler was defeated by a little Jewish girl. With his powerful army he did physically kill this teenager but she still won.
He wrote a book, almost no one reads it. She wrote a book and it has been translated to over 100 languages and is the second most popular book in history, second only to the Bible, another Jewish book.
Hitler wanted immortality, like the Caesars of Rome with monuments in every land, but she, Anne Frank, achieved this. I have seen monuments and statues of Anne Frank all over the world but none to the evil Hitler.
Again, wiping away the tears, and learning how to move forward, again, we must seek the answers, and...silence (Arik Einstein)
What kind of society do we want? Rome? Nazi Germany? Do we want a society of "perfect men and women" where lesser creatures are disposed of or hidden away in shame?
A great society is built upon the qualities all its members.
And Moses was 80 years old and his brother Aharon was 83 when they came before Paroe. (the book of Exodus, Shmot)
Paroe (Pharaoh) represents Power, he words even sound similar, Par-oh - Pow-er.
Moshe/Moses had to face the greatest power of his day, and he was concerned. Moses was a stutterer, not a public speaker.
Who was he? an unofficial spokesman of a nation of slaves and yet he was chosen to speak to the most powerful ruler of the earth. Moses had a disability, legend has it that he was burnt on his lips as a child and could never speak properly, but God Himself chose Moses, the stutterer, to speak to the Power of the Time, the greatest earthy ruler, and make the legendary demand "Let my people go".
God chose two old men, one with a disability, to represent His nation before the most powerful ruler of the world.
Think about that.
During Tour and Train, while eating at Bon Pat in the Adumim Mall, one of our IKI students from Germany made an interesting observation that had quite an impact on me.
Beate noticed Yoel. Yoel is a young man I have known for many years, his family prays in the same synagogue as me. He has always had a limp, he was born this way, "defective" some might say. He also has some issues with his speech. To us these issues are not issues, no more than the color of one's hair or skin, or preference for music. Yoel is just Yoel.
Beate was impressed. She said in Germany one would never see such a man working as a security guard, only "perfect" man could work in such a field, a certain image must be maintained.
This is one of my many aspects of Israel that I am so proud of. Everyone serves in our army; including the physically and mentally challenged. There are no stereotypes of who can be a warrior and who not. Often our fieriest warriors are short skinny guys. A smaller, weaker person, never sees these issues as a deterrent to being a great warrior, the spirit inside is all that matters, and heroism on the battlefield has proven this time and time again.
Our attitude is "Do not give up on me."
We believe in the value of a human being, and "there are many kinds of strengths" (Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi).
"He takes sickness and disease and he turns it into health" (Bob Dylan), we believe we can take our disadvantages and turn it into an advantage. We can turn lemons into an international business, we can make the desert bloom.
We took the Gaza strip, Gush Gatif, and make is blossom. People all over the world enjoyed the delicacies grown there, the pure organic baby tomatoes. But today it is once again a wasteland, filled with bitter people complaining to the world that "life is not fair" and they need the charity of the world.
We ask for nothing, we give, we create where others fail.
Take the example of Bruce Lee, a young Chinese immigrant to a largely racist America. He fought all the odds and became an international hero. His greatness lies not in his martial arts abilities, which are still subject to dispute but in his overcoming of obstacles.
He too had disabilities, so much so that he was rejected by the USA military and turned down by the draft during the Vietnam era. He had one foot shorter than the other, very poor eyesight, and terrible sinus trouble.
His spoken English was very poor and heavily accented, but he made no excuses for himself. He succeeded. And today he is rightly admired by all.
There are many kinds of strengths.
"It is all about soul" (Billy Joel)
"This life isn't fair" (Billy Joel)
But we take the hand we are dealt, we put on a smile, we wipe away the tears and we march into our own personal storm.
"Come to Paroe," Moses is worried, nervous, afraid to approach the great kind, so God tells him,"Come", (not Go) for I will be with you. Come with me and we shall do this together. You will not be alone.
We see cures, inventions, that come from "otherwise abled" individuals. Works of art from people who have no use of their hands, brilliant books from people who cannot move their limbs.
We have the power within us. For greatness. For change.
One of the most profound things I have ever read comes from my dear friend Annie K. in South Africa; the broken shells. When we are children we are attracted to the prettiest shells on the sea shore, the perfect ones, the ones without blemish. As we grow older and wiser, and experience the reality of life, we begin to appreciate the cracked shells, the ones that have suffered the realities of the sea, of life, of the waves that hit the shore. Ultimately it is the imperfect shells that become most beautiful to us.
It is the same with people.
Strength comes from our experience. From our soul.
The Roman legions march on Israel, our homeland. We fight back with all our strength but after three bloody wars Judea falls to Rome, the greatest empire of its time. But we never give up, never, never.
And today I live in Judea. Today I can look out from my balcony and see where the Roman troops marched on us nearly 2,000 years ago. But the Roman legions are gone and we are living here.
Who is strong?
Krav Maga for all, for everyone. I have been inspired, not by the musclemen but by the handicapped person who came in with a smile on his face, by the young man in the wheel chair, but those who know how to dance in the storm that we call life.
Yes, we must never forget to dance. The dance contains great strength, power of the soul and spirituality. The highlight of the Chassidic ultra Orthodox wedding is the dance of the rabbis. Yes, at this point they put aside the books and let their spirits sour to heaven as they let go of the earthy and ascend to heaven on the spirit of the dance. For those who have witnessed this it is a celebration of the soul.
Joseph Trumpeldor, the one armed Jewish hero of Russia, the defender of Tel Hai in Israel, I salute you.
Moshe Dayan, the one eyed Israeli minister of Defense and symbol of Israel, I salute you.
Menachem Begin, the short persecuted exiled Jew who stood up to the entire world and the powerful United States, I salute you. It is you who faced the American government and dared to say, "You may have forgot but a Jew bows only to God".
Little David, the boy who became king, the sweet singer of Israel, the Sheppard, the boy who stood up to the great Philistine Goliath and said "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who mocks the armies of the living God" and then slew him, I salute you.
And so it goes...and so it goes
So our Krav Maga must honor these heroes. Our Krav Maga must be for all of us. For strength comes in many forms and the value of a human being is measured by his soul.
I see the strength in you, and so it goes...
The wolf will live the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, a calf and the young lion together, and a small child shall lead them. (Isaiah chapter 11)
Not the great warrior, not the UFC champion but a small child shall lead them.
There are many kinds of strength.