March 31, 2016, Israel
What I teach, what I pass on, is a reflection of what I have been taught and what I have observed over the years.
I will never forget my dear dad, going over the monthly bills, using his old adding machine and then announcing...No peanut butter this month.
Today people steal to buy expensive sneakers and clothing, that is not how I was raised. You buy what you can afford, and nothing more.
When my teacher was paying off his mortgage in Jerusalem he told me "I did not buy a T shirt" as he symbolically touched his shirt. That is values.
When I wanted to buy an electric guitar I got a job cleaning toilets at the local Jewish school. My first word in Spanish was Banyos - Bathrooms. I wanted that guitar so I had to work for it.
When I was in high school I wanted to play Ice hockey so I got a job, a few jobs. I went door to door selling magazines, delivering newspapers, whatever it took.
This is how I was raised.
When my dad received a letter he responded, and this was long before e mails. You actually had to get a piece of paper, a pen, an envelope, a stamp and go to the post office. And today I send out emails to our members and do not even get a reply when all it takes is a few seconds and press the send button.
My dear mother always taught me to give the benefit of the doubt, so I try. But sometimes I can just not understand.
You owe, you pay. When you have no money you do not go on vacation, when you owe other people money you do not go out for dinner.
I have heard the other point of view, live life to the fullest, live in the moment. You cannot wait until you have paid off all your debts to begin to enjoy life. I hear you but...
I was living in New York. I knew I wanted to return to Israel and I wanted to buy my own apartment, not pay rent. I made a pot of beans and rice and lentils and eat it the entire week. I did not go out for dinner. If I was invited out I usually ordered the hummus and pita.
Why? I did not want to "eat my apartment". When I returned to Israel and bought a small apartment people wondered where I "found" the money. I did not find it, I earned it and I saved it. Good values. Good parenting.
If we left a light on after we left the room my dad would go turn it off and say "I do not work for the electric company". Do not waste money, live wisely.
These habits are still with me, habits formed in my youth. So I live as my father showed me and I try to understand others as my mother taught me. And so to give others the "benefit of the doubt" I say, well, I guess they did not have a father like mine.
No, I do not go on vacation when I owe my friends or teachers money. First get your affairs in order. No, I do not go out for a steak dinner when I have bills to pay. As a friend in South Africa quoted, "For you to gain weight when you owe me money is simply disrespectful" .
Ask my teachers if I have ever been a day late in paying my dues. I will eat dirt before I am late in paying my teachers for my training. To me that would be the ultimate sign of disrespect. The Torah commands us to honor our teachers, in every way.
I am grateful for the way I was raised. I am grateful for my parents and my teachers. I am sorry for those who apparently did not have the teachers and role models that I had. Our actions are a reflection of our values.
During our week of mourning for my father the house was packed with guests; the chief rabbi, the mayor of our town, the auto mechanics, the barber where my dad had his hair cut, the owner of the local coffee shop and four waitresses etc but.. there were also the plumbers and electricians and each sang the same song..."I never walked out of this house without cash in my hands. Other people gave a double endorsed check from out of town, or simply a promise to pay later, or ...nothing at all, But not your dad, always cash, on the spot."
When a man like that departs from the world he is missed. Blessed am I to have had such a role model.
IKI Krav Maga, a style with values