July 5, 2020, Israel
We refer to Moshe, Moses of the Bible, as Moshe our Teacher, our Rabbi, he alone has this title. We view him as the ultimate leader and we learn from his life, his behavior and his struggles. He teaches us the character traits necessary to be a true leader. And yet even with all his Divine wisdom, his ultimate humility, he still faces severe challenges and breakdowns. We read in the Bible about how his cousin Korah challenged his leadership and Moshe preferred to be "erased from the Divine Book" rather than deal with these unworthy disciples. Even such a great and humble leader as Moshe often reached the breaking point. We look to him for inspiration and guidance in our own struggles.
In this weeks reading we begin with the following words:
"And Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes of Children of Israel, saying, this is the thing which God has commanded. If a man makes a vow...he must not break his word, he shall do according to that which came out of his mouth." (Book of Number, Chapter 30, verses 2-3)
The great rabbi Shlomo Yizhaki of France explains that while the laws about to be given where intended for the entire nation of Israel, it was important to first speak to the heads of the tribes, to honor them with hearing the laws before the rest of the nation. This is an important lesson.
In Martial Arts we have a huge ego problem. Organizations have fallen apart over disputes of rank and titles. Alpha males cannot get along. Politics in martial arts is a true plague. We learn that we must award ranks and we must honor those ranks. Black belts sit up front, in traditional martial arts black belts and advanced students have special titles, we need this. Those who worked hard to earn their ranks deserve the recognition. The newer students must practice humility, this is all part of the process of growth. Moshe recognized this 3,500 years ago.
Soon the entire nation of Israel will know these laws, but first let us honor the heads of tribes, let them feel recognized and important. Moshe adds "This is the thing that God has commanded", i.e. it is not I who is imposing his will over you, do not worry, we are all following the laws of God.
The law continues..."honor that which comes out of your mouth." In modern times people say...that was then, this is now, things change. But Moshe is teaching; honor that which comes out of your mouth. Now this can come across as arrogant, as judgmental, thus...remember, this is the thing which God has commanded, not I.
My father called it Rebbe Gelt, learning money, sometimes you make a commitment, things don't work out as planned, you lose money but you keep your word, such is life. (this does not refer to situations out of our control, like flights being cancelled due to storms, virus etc)
Biblical Lessons for Martial Artists, and for Everyone
Biblical lessons useful for martial arts students and teachers, applicable to every day life.