April 9, 2023, Israel
We are currently in the Intermediate Days of the Passover festival. One of the most distinguishing aspects of this holiday is the total absence of bread from Jewish homes. Instead, we have the Matzah. The explanation given is that the Children of Israel left Egypt in haste and there was no time for the bread dough to rise, thus instead of proper bread we have this crunchy hard cracker called Matzah. (Exodus Chapter 12, verse 39)
Until this very day we eat this crunchy cracker to commemorate and remember our exodus from Egyptian bondage into Freedom.
In our tradition everything is open to interpretation and questioning, that is how we learn and grow. One question that comes mind for me personally is: If God is in charge, couldn't he have planned events well enough so that there would be at least enough time for the dough to rise? I mean, is that too much to ask? The people of Israel have a long way to go, couldn't they have been given at least enough time to prepare food for the long journey?
My answer is, there is a reason. Our lesson is as you about to leave slavery and enter into a life of freedom, there is something you must know. Life is unpredictable, there will be Chaos, there will be Helter Skelter. By Helter Skelter I am of course referring to the Beatles song from 1968. But what do those words mean? Chaotic and disorderly haste.
Perhaps a lesson we can learn from the Matzah is that when you embark on a life of freedom you must be prepared for...things not going according to plan. Even the Exodus from Egypt was Helter Skelter, the plan to bake bread failed. Perhaps this in fact was the Devine plan.
We all know of the phenomena of people becoming "Institutionalized" i.e. people that have spent a great deal of time in prison have trouble coping on the outside once they have been released. They have become used to a routine: wake up, food, work. They have become used to order, and now with Freedom there is total Chaos. The film "Shawshank Redemption" makes a very fine presentation of this case.
When it comes to fighting, or self-defense, indeed it is Chaos. We plan kata, organized forms, self-defense routines and drills but when the Shit hits the fan, it gets messy. When a real fight happens, it is rare that the defense will look like the textbook case. We have had many students use our IKI Krav Maga techniques in real-life violent encounters. Thankfully all emerged unscathed. Rarely, however, did the techniques used look like they way they are on the videos, they were nearly always adapted to the Helter Skelter Chaos of real life.
Perhaps that is the lesson of Passover and the Matzah, that we cannot expect things to go as planned, that even the best laid plans of man and God will run into trouble on the shores of reality. Perhaps the Matzah should remind us that life is Helter Skelter. We train, we prepare, we sharpen our tools, and when the moment of truth comes we hope that our training will guide us through the Chaos. Such is life.
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.
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