This week’s Torah portion is about Korach, a pretty important person among the people of Israel. He was a Levite, which meant that he was already a person in a high position. He, and Dathan and Abiram gathered a group together against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and the Eternal is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above the Eternal’s congregation?” (Numbers 16:2-3) Now, Korach was no ordinary citizen. He was a very successful and wealthy man in his own right. He had a reputation of being honorable and intelligent. Korach was one of the carriers of the Holy Ark so why would such a reputable leader do such a foolish thing? How did Korach arrive at such a lowly level? How did this happen?
Envy, Jealousy, Overachievement. In the end, Korach and his family were severely punished for causing so much divisiveness and aggravation to the Jewish nation. Korach knew the importance of being a “team player” and the benefits of unity, especially so soon after receiving the Torah. His selfishness destroyed the communal environment. Korach, and his followers, fell into the trap of greed and vanity. Actually, they literally fell into the trap. God opened up the mouth of the Earth, caused an earthquake and consumed Korach, his family, his riches and those of his followers.
Within a day, in quite a dramatic performance by God, the ground suddenly cracked open under Korach, Dathan, and Abiram, swallowing them whole, they and their families, and then just as suddenly the ground closed up again. No sooner had everybody else fled from the spot, than fire went out from God and consumed the 250 rebels.
Wow! God really put them in their place! Quite a character, this Korach!
Maybe his sin wasn’t in his words to Moses, but in the motive behind the words.! Korach rebelled because he was jealous, he wanted more power, he wanted more honor. Korach might have felt misunderstood. He felt that he needed to promote himself, and in doing so, he put others down.
You know, the truth of the matter is, that Korach was not all bad. Sometimes it’s good to get angry. We shouldn’t let anger distort the way we see things, but if our anger is a positive force, that’s actually a good thing. When we see injustice, it’s good to get angry. In fact, we should be outraged. But, we should never allow ourselves to be blinded by anger.
The Rabbis of ancient days saw a hint of the redemption of the story of Korach in Psalms 92:13, where the name Korach is spelled out. צַדִּיק, כַּתָּמָר יִפְרָח
Yes, Korach was blinded by anger, but the intention was righteousness.
The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Even though the DREAM Act is stalled in Congress, President Obama has just announced a new decision that will provide relief to an estimated 800,000 kids living in risk of deportation. Watch this, as he makes this exciting announcement, and also quiets down a heckler. Remember….it’s all in the delivery.