A kind word
By Moshe Katz
April 4, 2011  

Krav Maga; down and dirty Israeli style, in your face, self-defense, take no prisoner. But, slow down, this is not always the case.

When you dealing with terrorists this is the only way to go. There is nothing to talk about; There is no way to turn the killer away. Lets' not be na├»ve, they came to kill, so it is kill or be killed. Let them die for their cause. 

But not everyone is a terrorist, and not every act of verbal aggression is a true threat.  In the book of Psalms we read "Blessed be God my rock. who teaches my hands to do battle and my fingers for war." (Psalms  144) (this verse appears on our Krav Maga T shirts). But in the book of Proverbs we learn, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger." (Proverbs, 15) 

There is no contradiction between these two Biblical verses. As it is written elsewhere there is a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, 8)

We must be prepared for war, we must learn how to defend ourselves. I believe every person should learn the basics of Krav Maga just as they learn to read, write, and do basic math. But we must also know that in most cases during our daily lives a soft word will make the difference.

I will admit it. Sometimes I get tense and angry. At times I have been upset about flights being delayed, reservations cancelled without reason and everything just going wrong. And then some guy who works at the airport will smile at me; at first you just want to smack him for being so darn cheerful, but then somehow that smile and kind word makes all the difference. Truly a kind word makes the anger melt.

Sometimes we ae so angry that we do not want to be calmed, we do not want anyone to take our anger away, it is our anger and we have earned it. But of course anger does no good to anyone. It is like a carrying around a bag of vegetables gone bad, useless and smelly and just makes everyone want to get as far away from you as they can. 

I recall driving to Philadelphia to teach a Krav Maga seminar and I needed a break. So I saw a Walmart's and I knew I needed another pair of reading glasses (Yes, I have reached that age). So I stopped in and asked the girl at the cash register for help. She was so sweet and helpful, and she had this one amazing feature; a great big happy smile. I got my glasses, and as I walked out I said to her, "Thank you for your beautiful smile." 

Now I imagine these workers do not earn a whole not of money at this job. I imagine they do not feel they are curing cancer or bringing peace to our troubled world. I imagine she is not on the fast track to stardom and fame. And yet, with her calm helpful spirit she lifted my spirits that day. She told me there is happiness in this world and it is here and now. She told me it is good to be alive and every day, every minute, every encounter, is a blessing. Of course she did all this without saying a word. I felt it, in her smile.

I felt embarrassed for having been in a frustrated mood, embarrassed for complaining (in my heart) for my personal misfortunes/challenges that I was going through. And this sweet person, the cashier, had a smile that one could take away. I thanked her for sharing that beautiful smile with me, just for that moment.

A kind word, a smile, can melt away all our misfortunes. And as they say, it costs nothing and you lose nothing by sharing it with others. The more you give the more you gain.  


Profoundly true Moshe. There is truth in the saying that only the truly strong understand what it is to be kind. Very often, those of evil intent mistake kindness for weakness. But the good will prevail. Thanks for the reminder that we should all strive to be compassionate, even in testing circumstances. (Des Brown, Krav Maga instructor, South Africa)

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