Congregation B'nai Jacob "Rich in Tradition - Dynamic & Inclusive in Approach"
a thought for this shabbat - parshat korah
"You have gone too far! For all the community is holy, all of them, and the L-rd is in their midst. Why do you raise yourself above the L-rd’s congregation?" -Numbers 16:3
Korach and 250 other leaders accuse Moses of power hoarding.
At first glance, they seem to be making a pretty strong argument for the need for democratic reforms. With Moses' brother Aaron appointed as High Priest, Korach was complaining that the leadership of Moses had degenerated into a "good old boys" network consisting of himself and whoever else Moses deemed worthy.
Isn't Korach simply a populist insisting that the levers of power be more equitably distributed to all of Israel? And if so, why are his words recorded as an act of rebellion in the Torah? Why do our sages hold up Korach as starting one of the worst insurrections ever among the people of Israel?
Because of his rhetoric.
Notice the words of Korach:
"You have gone too far."
"Why do you raise yourself above everyone else?"
Korach's words were not an early attempt at Jeffersonian democracy but a personal attack on an individual who never even asked to be leader. Reading Korach's words, the rabbis saw in his argument not a dispute worthy of the children of Israel but an assault on Moses and the personal destruction of another human being.
A lesson for today.
Demonization is not debate, personal attacks are not arguments, and a better society can only be built on ideas, not demagoguery.
Our society may appear to be hopelessly polarized but I think it is human nature to argue with one another. And for good reasons. Our life experiences, cultural teachings, parental upbringing, and socio-economic viewpoints mean we come at life from different perspectives.
And the social, economic, and political issues of the day that effect lives are all worthy of passionate discussion and, sometimes, even heated debate.
That is healthy, necessary, and, yes, holy.
But when individuals are demonized or personally attacked, those become the disputes of Korach and his followers.
We are taught this week to be better than that.
And we have to become better than that today, not just to be a holy community but for the best views to emerge and carry the day.
Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Victor Urecki
WEEK OF may june 7th -13th, 2021
All our services and classes at B'nai Jacob are now in person but will remain available on Zoom.
Based on the most recent guidelines of the CDC, vaccinated individuals do not need to be masked when in our synagogue. We ask that those who are not vaccinated, continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing.
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