Korach, a cousin of Moses from the distinguished Tribe of Levites, falls prey to the three sins which our sages teach are the source of all destructive character traits: jealousy, lust, and the thirst for honor. In his obsession, he foments rebellion and tries to unseat Moses and Aaron. Cleverly, he incites two hundred and fifty leaders of the nation to join him and members of the tribe of Reuven, convincing them that Moses was guilty of nepotism - that it was not by the command of G-d that he appointed Aaron High Priest, but by his own machinations. Those who joined Korach all had their own hidden agendas, first and foremost among them were Dosan and Aviram, who had a long history of attacking Moses. It was indeed a dark moment in the history of the Israelites.
By all rights, Moses would have been justified in demanding the obliteration of the insurgents, but instead, he tried to reason with them: Let`s wait until boker - morning, he said. The word boker does not only mean morning, but to bikoret, to clarify, to investigate. By telling them to sleep on it, Moses hoped that they would examine their own motivations, search for clarity, and re-think their malevolent plans. But they remained adamant and refused to recognize their true intent.
But still, Moses did not give up. He sent for Dosan and Aviram and tried to make peace with them but once again, they arrogantly refused. Moses, the prophet of G-d, the King of Israel, the beloved Rabbi of all the Jewish people, personally went to Dosan and Aviram in a final effort to make peace (Numbers, 16:25). And he does not feel compromised by humbling himself.
Herein is to be found a profound lesson for all of us. Ours is a generation that is torn by strife. There are so many controversies in families and communities, so much dissension.... To what extent should we pursue peace?
Let us learn from Moses. Even when our overtures are rebuffed, we should not give up. Our sages admonish us not to keep quarrels going and gave us a three-fold formula to achieve peace: Be like a tea kettle; be like a bird, and be like a river. A teakettle makes peace between fire and water even though it will get scorched in the process.
Try to catch a bird - it will fly way. Someone took your seat, your parking place? Instead of being angry, learn from the bird - fly away.
The banks of the river keep the waters from overflowing. Learn control and do not permit the flood waters of your temper to take over.
Let us take to heart Moses example. If he could so greatly humble himself in pursuit of peace, how much more so should we make every attempt at reconciliation.
Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Osher
This Torah portion is dedicated in memory of Chaya Golda Feigel bas Yitzchok
Parshas Korach 2 Tammuz 5775
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