Moshe, the Snake, and Krav Maga
By Moshe Katz, Krav Maga Instructor, Israel

Saturday night, December 21, 2013, the weekly reading of "Shmoth" (Exodus)

The nation of Israel was going through hard times, the decrees against us were harsh, and there was a need for a leader, a true leader.

That leader was to be Moshe (Moses, Moises..etc). He was chosen from birth, but his journey would not be an easy one. To be a leader requires training and passing many tests. Moshe would ultimately become the ultimate leader of our people. To this day he and he alone is referred to "Moshe Rabeinu", Moshe our teacher.

He was born into slavery and persecution, he was born to a people torn apart by internal conflict, he was a stutterer and a shy sort of guy, but he would be the one, the one to lead the Nation of Israel out of Egypt, and each year at Passover we all reenact and relive our exodus from Egyptian slavery and bondage.

God tells Moshe about the plan to leave Egypt and how he should inform the people and make the necessary preparations. Moshe, however, has his doubts.

"and Moshe replied and said,'They will not believe me and they will not listen to my voice because they will say God did not appear to you'." (Exodus chapter 4)

God could sense Moshe's hesitation, his fear, his lack of confidence. God knew that no words will convince Moshe. When we have fear it is not words we need, we need to take ACTION to overcome that fear. The message is indeed an ancient and wise one.

"God said to him, 'what is that in your hand?' and he answered a rod" (a stick).

"and he (God) said 'Cast it down to the ground' and he (Moshe) cast it down to the ground and it (the stick) became a snake, and Moshe fled from it."

"And God said to Moshe 'extend your hand and grab it by the tail', and Moshe extended his hand and grabbed it and it was transformed to a stick in his hand. So that they (the people of Israel) shall believe that God has appeared to you, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob."

Moshe was feeling fear, insecurity. His task was not going to be an easy one, to take people out of slavery, to get slavery out of their minds, to speak of redemption is never easy. God knew the challenges ahead.

So what did Moshe have in his hand, a simple stick. Like most of our great leaders Moshe was a shepherd. He was well acquainted with the stick. It could be used to keep an animal in line, to fight off wild predators or to fight off any man who came to harm him. In the hands of a skilled fighter a stick is a deadly weapon. The shepherd learns to rely upon his stick. It is a survival tool.

So God says, what have you got in your hand? a stick? lets see what we can do with that. Throw it down and away. So Moshe gives up his weapon, becomes a snake and Moshe runs away in fear.

Moshe must learn to trust God, trust himself, trust his own ability. The power is not in the stick, one should not over rely upon it. Throw the stick away! But then it becomes an object that Moshe is afraid off. So God says Face your fears! Go up to the snake, the deadly serpent, and grab it by its tail.

Every creature, every enemy, has its tail, a weak point, a less protected side. If we learn to fight correctly we can always find that point. That is why with Krav Maga, when trained correctly, a smaller person can overcome a larger and stronger person. Find the tail and grab it.

So Moshe listens to God, and immediately extends his hand, despite his obvious fear, and grabs the tail. And then, what happens? As soon as Moshe overcame his fear that very same snake once again became a rod in his hand, a shepherds stick that he can use to lead the flock of Israel to freedom.

Moshe must learn to face fear. As a leader he will be the one who must show courage, he must be the example. A stick can be a snake, a snake can be a stick in your hands, but you must first be willing to grab that snake.

With IKI Krav Maga we begin with attitude, just like Moshe. We teach that you must face reality. You might run away at first but you must come back and face your fears. Then you must grab them in a skilled way and use that power to your advantage.

Where one man sees a scary snake another man sees a tool he can use. It all begins with attitude, it all begins with how we see ourselves. 

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