March 9, 2021. Delta flight 234; USA - Israel
Jewish wedding, high expectations. (Fiddler on the Roof)
After three weeks of waiting and four cancelled flights, we are finally on the plane. During these trying times of Coronavirus we need to adjust our expectations.
A wise rabbi once told me, expectation is the father of disappointment. Now this may seem strange at first. After all, aren't we supposed to set our sights high? Aren't we meant to strive for excellence, for perfection? That is the purpose of the Torah/Bible, to raise man up, to strive for the heavens. We were not born to be mediocre. In the film Fiddler on the Roof, Tevya's young daughter says she wants to marry the rabbis' son. Her sister asks her why, she says, we have only one rabbi in our village, and he has only one son, why shouldn't I want the best? Her older sister puts her in her place; you are a poor girl from a poor family, you will take whatever Yenta the matchmaker brings you.
And here we have our dilemma, as old as time itself; shoot for the stars, or come down to earth and be realistic. I contend that it is those who shoot for the starts who take society a step forward, but without those down to earth hard-working realists it would never be possible. We need both; we need both elements in society and within ourselves. We need the dreamers and we need the builders. We need impossible dreams to strive for, but yet we need practical nose to the grind realists, facts and figures, accurate data, to make things actually happen.
The early Zionists who returned to the Land of Israel were great dreamers, inspired by men like Dr. Theodore Herzl, but they were also realists, they needed the funding by men such as Sir Moses Montefiore, and they needed to work the land, toil daily under harsh conditions.
We need Great Expectations but we need to be realistic. One of the tragedies of the day are young people who take their own lives. I personally know of two recent cases, young men who felt they did not meet those high expectations. They had everything going for them but they simply did not feel they were keeping up. Great expectations can lead to great downfalls. We need to be cautious, what we expect of others, and what we expect of ourselves.
It is said in the Book of Psalms that when we return to our land, Zion, Israel, we will "be as dreamers", indeed this dream was so unrealistic that over the close to two thousand years that we waited to come home, most Jews lost hope. They let go of the rope, they assimilated into their host nations and are no more.
The Dream, the Dreamer and the Worker, the ultimate Dilemma. I have seen relationships fall apart as one partner wanted to live the moment, be spontaneous and experience life to the fullest, while the other felt they should work hard, save, and build for the future. Both are correct. The Dilemma. Balance, as Mr. Miyagi says, Balance in Karate, and in life.
We need Balance in our Krav Maga, we need Great Expectations but within our ability to fulfill them. For if they are unrealistic, most will let go and achieve nothing. Sometimes the Wall is just too high.
Often people in Ivory Towers create artificial standards which are then imposed upon students. The truth is that these Professors or whatever they are, are detached from reality. They have forgotten what it feels like to be that normal, average, yes mediocre, individual. Often this standard is not only unrealistic but it is purely artificial and useless. It serves no purpose. It is out of touch with Reality. These Great Expectations are false gods, worshiped but serve no purpose. Real dreams can be achieved by real people.
In martial arts films these great expectations are realized, but it is a fantasy, choreographed and edited. We cannot begin with a "technique" and then work relentlessly to achieve it. We can create a model and then work hard to train our model to fit that model, but rather I believe it must be the other way around. We must begin with our body, our abilities, and create techniques that we can achieve, techniques that suit our body. We can excel, we can achieve great things in life, within our natural abilities. We must work with our aptitude, not with our fantasies. If your child has great artistic or musical talent but is not suited for mathematics, it is foolish to try and bend his will, his brain, his personality, to fit your idea of Great Expectations. It is the same with Krav Maga.
We adapt the style, the technique, to the person, rather than the other way around.
We look at the human being, yes, the average human being. We determine what skills can be achieved, what movements can be learned, and we strive for that. That is our great expectation and we can guide you to achieve that. We adapt the style, the technique, to the person, rather than the other way around. We are not lowering the bar, but we are using a bar that is appropriate for our setting. A human being can indeed achieve great things if he is allowed to follow his own nature, in his own way. Genius exists but it can only flourish in the right soil. Plant a seed in the wrong place and it will never grow. Each seed has its natural soil. Coffee can only be grown in certain regions, certain soil is needed, a certain climate. Trying to grow it in the wrong region is an exercise in futility. We are the same way. We can flourish in the correct environment.
In the great Rabbinical academy of Slobodka, Lithuania, (near Kovno) the spiritual growth of the students was charged to the great "Alter", Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel known affectionally as Der Alter fun Slobodka (The Elder from Slobodka). He had the great skill of watching each student, understanding each student, and guiding him to achieve his own greatness, not some artificial standard, but a greatness all his own. His talent was not in pushing students to achieve that which was against their nature, but to achieve greatness within their God-given nature, to achieve that for which they were born to do.
In our style of Krav Maga we tailor the techniques to the individual, rather than try and re-make people against their nature. This allows for a faster and more effective way to learn. Life, Torah, Self-defense, teach the child according to his own way and even as grows old he shall not depart from this path. (Book of Proverbs 22,6)
Striving for excellence in all we do.
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