Pay the full price.
"Hear me and let me meet with Ephron son of Sohar that he may give me the cave of Machpela, which he has in the end of his field; for the full price he shall give it to me for a possession of a burying place amongst you." (Bereshith, Genesis, Chapter 23, verse 8,9)
I enjoy reading the Torah, the Bible, the story of our people. There is always a lesson and it is always relevant out lives. My father of blessed memory taught me, "Read the text as if it were the first time you are reading it, do not think about what others have already written as commentary, let the words pop out to you and let them speak to you."
Today I believe that it was my father's way of thinking that has led IKI to be the most innovative Krav Maga system in the world today. Just as he said, we look at a situation as if for the first time, without thinking of existing "interpretations, i.e. existing techniques, and we let the situation itself teach us its own lesson. We let it "speak" for itself. That is why so many students who come to us from other Krav Maga styles are confused at first, they are not used to seeing things in a new light.
This morning, as is my habit, I am reading the Torah portion that I will read in the synagogue this Sabbath, Hayey Sarah, "The Life of Sarah", our matriarch.
I have read this countless of times but suddenly, just now, something new popped into my head, and I am excited about it.
Abraham was negotiating a business deal, a transaction; he was purchasing the Cave of Machepela which would become the Cave of the Patriarchs, in order to bury his departed wife Sarah. A lengthy, "Middle East" style negotiation was taking place. But here Abraham did something unusual he refused a lower offer and he insisted on paying "Full Money", the full, accepted, market price of the time. He used coins that were "passable for all merchants". He refused a discount.
The traditional answer offered by the rabbis is wise; he knew that in the future this area, Hebron, would be disputed by our enemies, and thus he wanted to establish absolute proof that this area of real estate is undisputed property of the Jewish people. (It unfortunately did not help as the world still refuses to recognize it as Jewish and any Jew who lives or even visits this site is denounced as a right-wing fanatic provocateur.
But it was something else that hit me this morning.
As head of IKI many people approach me looking for a discount, not on property, or on fees, but on the ranks; they want a quick rank, not too much fuss, no blood, sweat and tears, just recognize me as an instructor.
I remember how years ago I yearned and dreamed of having a black belt. It seemed so far away and I wanted it so badly. I imagined an easy way, that perhaps a great master would chance upon me, admire my skills, and award me a belt on the spot (I actually was offered such a deal) but my teacher, Itay Gil, taught me otherwise.
"Your day of glory will come:, he would say. And that was all he said. I trained hard, very hard, it was my life. I sacrificed everything for it, I came late to weddings and bar mitzvahs, I missed job opportunities, I skipped dinner with friends and family, and I trained. And then after training I came home and reviewed my notes, went for a run or to the gym, and I trained.
And this morning it hit me, what I was actually doing was paying my "Chesef Moleh", my "Full Money", I was doing as Abraham did, paying full price because something only has value if you give it value.
If we are looking for a short-cut, a discount, not to fully pay our dues; then whatever we "attain" will never have any value. My students here in Israel do not want shortcuts, they want serious tests, years of training, demanding requirements, they will not accept a belt unless they know they have earned it; this is how I trained them.
As Rocky said, "There's no easy way out, there's no shortcut home."
Pay the full price and wear your ranks with pride.
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