With Tolerance, Respect, and Love for Jews of Other Torah Traditions
Principle 13 – The Unique Warrior Art of the Jewish People: The Key to a Healthy and Safe Jewish Nation in a Hostile World
It is a fundamental Torah principle to preserve our lives and health. Since no one can serve HaShem properly with a sick body, it is a fundamental Torah value to keep the body in good physical condition. Since one’s physical well-being –besides our ability to keep the Commandments– is so tied to our emotional state of being, one must do his utmost to remain healthy, joyful, and happy.
Similarly, in every generation there are Jews who live in continual fear for their lives. A weak Jewish People that doesn’t invest in equipping and training the general populace (not just the army) for war cannot fulfill HaShem’s Commandments to the nation, particularly the establishment of kingdom and Temple. This is especially so in our own times, when government protection forces have their hands tied politically, so that citizens often have no choice but to fight for our own lives and property. Therefore it is a fundamental principle of Torah that Jews be trained in warriorship on all levels: the individual, the communal, and the national. In fact, the RaMBaM teaches us that our kingdom was lost, our Holy Temple destroyed, and our exile prolonged for this very reason: that we did not involve ourselves in the study of warfare and conquest of lands. (1)Epistle to the Sages of Marseilles
MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING FOR THE SAKE OF HEAVEN
Many fall into the error that modern weaponry, namely firearms, has done away with the need for comprehensive martial arts training. However, even for the most advanced armies, recent wars have proven an already universally-recognized principle of warfare: it is well-trained foot soldiers that secure victory in battle; not merely bombs and missiles. Except for the residents of border towns, the main terror threat being faced daily in Israel is by unarmed citizens being accosted by attackers on foot, armed and unarmed. In many –if not most of these cases– the police are unable to respond in time. Even worse, we are seeing more and more that it is the police whose training is inadequate to handle serious incidents.
However, this Torah principle is not fulfilled by training in the mindset of foreign martial arts: The Bible is replete with negative examples of kings and armies who were defeated due to their fighting in the profane manner of idolaters: They trusted in pure military strength alone, with the corrupt belief in “my strength and the might of my hand.” (Deut. 8:17) Although we must invest our best efforts, ultimately it is by the blessing of HaShem that wars are won; not physical might. Sadly, most of today’s widely-marketed martial arts are taught in this same Godless mindset and/or they are the customs of idolatry. Certain arts might even be subtle idolatrous rites in and of themselves, unbeknownst to their Western practitioners. Besides the halakhic and spiritual implications, they are taught as sport or past-time.
It is for these reasons and more, that it is no less than a fundamental principle of our Torah tradition to train in versatile, deadly warrior arts with the proper spiritual focus – clean of idolatrous trappings. Thus King David exhorted the tribe of Judah: “(The principle) to teach the sons of Judah qesheth; (2)Samuel II, 1:18. According to Rashi’s commentary on the verse, qesheth here is not the archer’s bow, but a special, Hebrew, hand-to-hand ...continue behold it is written in The Book of Yashar.”
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Epistle to the Sages of Marseilles|
|2.||↑||Samuel II, 1:18. According to Rashi’s commentary on the verse, qesheth here is not the archer’s bow, but a special, Hebrew, hand-to-hand warrior art.|