June 1, 2021, Israel
This is a lesson I learned in one moment, and then over a life-time, from my teacher Rabbi Yaakov (Jacob) Wehl of blessed memory. You might wonder how does a rabbi, a very traditional one at that, teach one to be cool, and what impact does that have on our Krav Maga, IKI Krav Maga? Toh Shma, Sit back and listen.
I can only picture Rabbi Wehl in one suit, he certainly never changed his style, his hair etc. And he certainly never made any attempt to "make an impression", he just was! He was himself, like Mordechai in the story of Esther, he would neither bend nor bow, nor budge to accommodate modern trends.
He was as modest as they come, only many years later did I understand what a scholar, a Talmid Chacham, did we have in our midst. My brothers and I always admire him, there was just something about him...Now lets go back 45 years...
I happened to be in the school office during one of the breaks and I saw Rabbi Wehl of blessed memory. Of course in those days there were no cell phones or any of these modern gadgets. He used the secretary's phone, he called his mother. I overheard that he was letting her know that he was running late, he was planning on visiting her and he did not want her to worry.
That was it, that is the entire story.
And now the understanding of this beautiful and profound act.
As teenagers, and as young adults, the young ones feel the parents are an embarrassment of sorts. It is not so cool to be with your parents. I recall a story of a teenage girl walking with her father down 52st in Manhattan, he was singing and she was, "Dad!!! Do you have to sing, can't you see everyone is looking at you!"
It was Billy Joel and his daughter. Not easy being a teenager.
Point being, it is not cool to be picked up by your parents, it is much cooler to be independent.
Many believe that being cool has to do with your "look", your style, your clothing and sunglasses. I learned otherwise. Now, UCLA, early 20's, California. I am with my friends. I find a payphone to call my mother and let her know that I am running late. My friends look at me, Wow, he calls his mommy!
Yes, I do, I learned to call her and let her know that I am running late so that she should not worry, and that my friends, as a cool as one can be!! I don't know if any of you are as cool as I am.
You see to be cool means you don't give a hoot what other people think of you, you do what is right. Rabbi Wehl of blessed memory studied the Talmud, wore the same suit etc. and called his mother. He was a great scholar but he did not need to show it. When you have confidence you are as cool as one can be. When you have to chase after fashions and trends, well I feel sorry for you.
In Krav Maga it is the same, I too not follow the trend, we have different techniques than other more "macho, Bad Ass" styles of Krav Maga, but ours actually work. Our system has been used by special units of security and law enforcement all over the world. We are the true "bad ass". We are not imitators, but innovators.
If you are embarrassed to call your mom in front of your friends, you are not cool at all. If you feel confident enough to be your own true self, your unique self, that coolness will show. and now I must go, I must drive my mother to the hospital, have a good day everyone. Be cool.
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