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8/9 July: Parshat Korach

rabbipaulsmlShabbat comes in 9.03 pm: goes out 10.20 pm 

The central tale in this parshat revolves around a rebellion or a series of rebellions led by Korach the Levite.  At first, Korach is accompanied by 250 tribal leaders, including Datan and Aviram who complain to Moses, “You have gone too far!  For all the community are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst.  Why then do you raise yourselves above the Lord’s congregation?”

Korach’s purpose is not a mission of holiness and is not intended to advance a nobler purpose.  It is a challenge rooted in his own individual ambition.  Modern commentator Nechama Leibowitz writes that Korach and his followers “were simply a band of malcontents, each harbouring his own personal grievances against authority, animated by individual pride and ambition, united to overthrow Moses and Aaron and hoping thereby to attain their individual desires.”

A rebel without a cause, Korach is understood as a model of a destructive voice that challenges authority for no purpose other than his own personal advancement and wanton destructiveness.   Challenges to authority are not bad per se in Judaism — it always depends on the motivation and intended  goal of the people involved.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

July 6, 2016