Monday, June 3, 2013

Parashat Korach - How Far Is Too Far

This is quite a week of rebellion of Moses' authority. The Children of Israel haven't been content. There's been a lot of unrest and arguing within the community.  They've been complaining about everything, even the food. God is getting impatient with the Israelites, and Moses had to really build them up, so God wouldn't punish them. But, in this week's Parashat, complaining reaches an all-time high.

Korach, who is a cousin of Moses and Aaron, along with Datan and Abiram, challenged the leadership ability of Moses and Aaron, in front of the entire Community of Israel.

"They combined against Moses and Aaron and said to them, 'You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them and Adonai is in their midst, Why then do you raise yourselves above Adonai's congregation?' (Num.16:3)"

Korach convinced 250 others who also want a piece of the action, but Korach seems to have forgotten something really important. Yes, the entire community is holy. He got that right. But, what Korach seems to have forgotten is that Moses and Aaron were elevated to their positions by God. They didn't select themselves.
Moses wasn't a politician. He was a pretty modest guy. He had no ambition to fight for political survival and, frankly, would walk away from it all if God would allow it.
Politics seems to bring out the worst in people. And that's what happened here.

Korach and his Cronies bitterly divided the Israelites. They set family against family and tribe against tribe. They weakened the community, instead of helping to build them up. And perhaps that's why Korach received the punishment that he got. God opens the earth, and swallows up the rebels and their families. Complete bedlam breaks out, and the people turn on Moses and Aaron: "You two have brought death upon the Lord's people!"  Before the day is over, 14,000 have died from a plague. (or a Divine Plague, that is)

Wow.....Korach was certainly a menace. But, Moses allowed this tragedy to continue. Korach certainly provoked the Revolution, but shouldn't Moses have tried to be the leader, and respect another's point of view? Maybe Moses could have actually gotten Korach to work beyond his rage. Can you imagine....Moses and Korach working closely together? Imagine that!

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