Friday, June 15, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Korach ("You say you want a revolution")

Last year I talked about Quaroon in the Quran. This year I will examine something that comes from closer to home but waxes even more heretical.

Korach's claim was that everyone was holy and therefore should have the same role as Moses and Aaron. I actually somewhat sympathize with Korach here. God did declare all of Israel a Mamlechet Kohanim vAm Kadosh, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. God directs each and every person "You shall be holy for I the Lord am Holy". I think this is a reasonable request, but I fear that he was going to function as a Stalinist Communism in Animal Farm, everyone was equal, but some were more equal than others. Korach's major malfunction, well one of them, was that he failed to see the bigger picture: yes, everyone is holy and it would be ideal for them to all be at the same level but in the desert they needed a strong leader; in transition from their slave mentality, they needed someone who could take control. I imagine people who have been slaves all their lives and are suddenly freed have absolutely no idea of how to cope with their emancipation. Two weeks ago we read about the people missing the food they ate for free in Egypt. The statement is ridiculous: they didn't eat for free, it came at the cost of their indentured servitude as slaves, but they were fed rather than having to gather the manna themselves.

The Psalm for Monday ends with the line hu yenahageynu al-mut. This last word can be translated in two ways: "He (God) will lead us until death" or "He will lead us as children". Take it either way, seems to be the message in this week's Torah portion: Submit to God and he could lead you and care for you or it could be quite damaging. Or, you can roll the dice and try for something else. Korach took a chance, ultimately failing. He may have been right, but he lacked courtesy in addressing Moses that one is even supposed to exhibit, lhavdil, to gentile kings.

Bottom line: So Korach had a good idea that might have worked if he wasn't such a jerk.

Shabbat Shalom

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