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Parashat Korach - 5775

My friends,

Last week we talked about the murmuring and rebellion of the Israelites following the bad report by ten of the twelve scouts that Moses sent to check out the Land of Canaan. This week, we read of another rebellion. This time it is led by Korach, a Levite who is able to recruit 250 men, all leaders of the community. Korach and each of these leaders feel that they can play a bigger role in leading the people. They resent that Moses and Aaron hold such prominent roles of leadership.

Moses tries to reason with the people saying that he and Aaron are not such 'big shots' - that their positions were given to them by G-d. Korach and the people he assembled against Moses and Aaron refused to discuss the matter. They accuse Moses and Aaron of a 'power grab', They want the power for themselves.

Moses suggests a way to prove that G-d selected Aaron to be the High Priest. He advises the 250 men to each get a fire pan, place some incense in it and gather tomorrow before the tabernacle, and this way act as the priest. G-d will make His choice known.

Korach and the 250 candidates returned the next morning with their fire pans. Korach and all these people are punished. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed Korach and his family while the 250 men died form a fire that came from before G-d and consumed them.

That was the end of that rebellion.

The question of engaging in controversy is discussed in the Talmud. Our sages explain that there are two types of controversies. A legitimate controversy is one that is conducted for the sake of Heaven, the sake of truth and what is best for the community. Such debate is encouraged and the results will benefit the community. A controversy that is to satisfy one's ego because of envy and jealousy - when one seeks honor at the expense of others - such controversy will not succeed and will hurt the community and the one which is seeking such honor.

Going back many years, Jews always had different opinions and different interpretations of Jewish laws and customs, but we remained AM ECHAD, one people. We have different ideologies and movements. They are all welcome as long as they do not attempt to belittle or alienate others.

Korah tried to divide the people. He did not succeed.

We may pray and observe some of the Mitzvot in different ways, but always remember that we are ONE. AM YISRAEL CHAI.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram