February 29, 2016, New Jersey - New York
A rabbi told the following story.
The year was 1906, a small village in Russia. A young Jewish university student rents an attic room from a Jewish family. Neither are religious. The young man pursues his university studies.
Nothing unusual until one day they find that he took his own life, he slit his wrists. The body is returned to his hometown and is given a proper Jewish burial. And then the strange stuff begins.
Note: This is a true story.
The house where the young man lived and took his own life begins to exhibit strange characteristics. The house shakes and the plaster begins to fall off. White powder is everywhere. And yet, the house shows no signs of having lost any of its plaster. The walls are unchanged.
This continues and the word spreads about the haunted house. It becomes well known and people come from all over to observe this. It happens consistently but not constantly. It is an on and off matter.
People come, sit around, play cards and wait for the house to shake. But the owners are worried and finally turn to the local rabbi, a certain Rabbi Bloch, for advice.
The rabbi said he has no knowledge of haunted houses, ghosts or any such matters but he does know Halacha, Jewish law.
Jewish law places great emphasis on human life, and death. We pay a great deal of respect to the human body. We call this Kavod HaMeth, Respect for the dead. When someone dies the body must be treated with great respect in accordance with Jewish law. In our own times with suicide bombers, this involves searching for every last piece of human flash, often scrapping it off the floor or glass windows. Every little bit is brought to a proper Jewish burial.
They searched the house and found a great deal of blood on the attic floor. The rabbi instructed them to remove the floor boards with the blood and bury them in the Jewish funeral. And then the shaking and the strange phenomena came to an end.
At this point the rabbi telling the story pauses. He explains that this entire story appears only as a footnote in a book written a few years later. The story was not told for the story itself. No, the story itself is not what is important. The important part is what happened next.
The author asks, and how were the people of the town affected?
How did they change?
After all they saw more than most of us see. They saw the problem and they saw the solution. Surely this would have a profound affect on those who lived through this.
And so I was on the edge of my seat as the rabbi asked, and how were the people of that town affected?
And then he answered his own question.
No one changed. Not a single person changed. The entire town had this incredible experience, they saw wonders and proof that most people, never see in their entire lifetimes, and yet no one changed their way of life.
The ancient Jewish law proved itself to be true and yet the doubters continued to doubt, the non believers continued to non believe, no soul searching or change took place.
And that is how it is.
The rabbi applied the lesson to religion but my thoughts wandered off to Krav Maga.
After every attack the demand for Krav Maga lessons increase. After every murder the demand increases and after every successful defense using Krav Maga the demand for classes rises. But then they stop.
At first the phone does not stop ringing. And all my students suddenly are in great demand. Everyone needs to borrow equipment. And then....it stops. Nothing changes.
Russia, 1906, nothing changed after the haunted house stopped being haunted when Jewish law was followed. And nothing changes today when people see that those who train in Krav Maga stand a much better chance of survival than those who do not.
Back in 1906 this incredible story was included in a book, not for the story itself but for the lesson that not a single person in that town changed, despite what they saw and experienced.
Just today someone told me that as "business was good" she had no time for Krav Maga classes anymore. Another requested a woman's only class as a condition for training.
This is not meant to put these people down in any way but this is what I experience all the time. I replied that numerous times I responded to that request and started classes for women only. I even made the classes on the days and hours that suited them most. And, as always, it started with a bang and a boom but soon it was down to less than a handful.
And it was not even the same handful each week. And of course they all had their reasons; busy with cooking, shopping, children. But what about busy with saving their lives?
Just recently we all saw the horror of Dafna Meir being stabbed to death in front of her children. We mourned as a nation. But now again....cooking, shopping etc. There is no time for Krav Maga lessons.
Like the people of that town in Russia back in 1906, Nothing changes.
Like the haunted house, it is an on and off matter. When it is on people want classes and when it is off the demand disappears.
And yet, now and then there are a few, a few who open their eyes and start to think. It is up to us, the instructors, to reach out to as many people as people....
it is a matter of life and death. Let us not wait too long.
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