August 22, 2016, Israel
Painting, men studying the Talmud, the endless debate..the search for truth.
The Talmud; is there any greater educational model in the history of mankind? All the great Jewish thinkers, from the rabbis to the secular, were raised on the Talmud. To an outsider, sadly, this can never be fully understood. No, but in Korea the Talmud is studied, and in China, they want the wisdom, the secrets, of the Jews.
All the brilliant hi tech coming out of Israel, Albert Einstein, all the great innovations, stem from the study of Talmud. The Talmud is the backbone of Judaism, our way of life and our tool to sharpen the mind.
"Tell me what you know and I will knock it down with a brilliant question", so I recall from my days in Yeshiva, rabbinical academy, studying the Talmud. Tell me what you know and I will challenge you. I will attack your theory, your understanding.
In the study hall voices are raised, this is not a library. It is the sound of the endless debate. No! Never! who ever thought such a thing, you are wrong and I will prove it to you!
Such is the tone of voice, with love and respect. The Talmud, it contains 500 years of discussions, lessons, arguments and debates. The debate has been going on since antiquity. And this keeps us sharp. For every point there is a counter point, and then a counter counter point. The wisdom of the Jews...
You can translate the Talmud into any language but it will not make any sense. Anyone who has studied will confirm this. It is written in ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, there are no paragraphs, there is no punctuation. And, you can never study the Talmud without having spent years with a qualified old school rabbi. There are no shortcuts and reading it in English will not help you at all, nor in Korean, or Chinese.
Now what has this to do with Krav Maga? Everything!
The first page of Talmud...I began this page in Fourth grade in Israel.
Krav Maga and Talmud
First, you need to spend years under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Years!
Yes, Krav Maga is a short cut method of self defense, true, but to be a master it still takes years. To be able to question and challenge techniques, it takes years. To be able to "render decisions", it takes years.
When one is ordained as a rabbi it means that now he can "render decisions", although most rabbis will continue to consult with more senior rabbis throughout their entire lives.
What if you are studying a passage and it makes no sense? What do you do?
Do you assume there is a mistake in the print? or a mistake in the transmission of this law? No, not at all, the mistake is that you have not understood it well enough. You must seek counsel, you must send a question to your teacher and say I am having trouble with this passage, or with this Krav Maga technique.
Can you disqualify the technique on your own? Can you alter the text of the Talmud until it matches your understanding? Clearly not.
The Talmud begins with humility, respect. We can argue, we can debate but we cannot change the law just because we have not yet fully understood it. Go back to the source, go back to your teacher.
I was a young man, full of questions. I had just spend a full year studying in yeshiva. Allow me to repeat that, a full year, that means all day every day, that means 10 hours per day studying. That means no parties, no movies, that means studying night and day. And I had questions.
So what did I do? I consulted with a rabbi. And he sent me to another rabbi. And this rabbi taught me some lessons from the writings of Maimonides from the 12th century. And then he advised me to go seek my first teacher in America. And so I did. I flew to Los Angeles and studied for two months with my teacher, Rabbi Cohen. And then, after two months, when it was time for me to return to Israel Rabbi Cohen said to me, So Moshe, now that we studied together for two months please tell what those urgent burning questions were that motivated this visit.
I looked at him and said, Rabbi, I have no questions.