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SHABBAT 19/20 JUNE: PARSHA KORACH

Shabbat comes in at 9.07 pm and goes out at 10.28 pm

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As the summer approaches, my wife and I have started giving our children advice on how to survive and flourish at camp.   We say:  “Always try to be helpful to the counsellors, they have to deal with a lot of kids.”   “Don’t leave your wet towels on your bed, you have to hang them up or they will get mouldy.”   And, “Don’t hang out with the kids who are troublemakers.”

In Parsha Korach, Rashi notes that the Reuvenites hung out with the Kohathite clan to which Korach belonged.   Why are the Reuvenites considered bad company?   You may recall that back in Egypt, one of Jacob’s last acts was to demote Reuven from his clan position as first-born (which came with leadership and inheritance privileges) because Reuven had taken Bilhah, Jacob’s maidservant/concubine to his own bed, in violation of Jacob’s status and rights.

So the Reuvenites were denied a leadership role by Jacob.   Korah himself felt deprived of leadership by Moshe.  It is not hard to imagine the Reuvenites and Korah grumbling and plotting together. Rashi comments, “Woe to the evil one, and woe to his neighbour!” ( Num. 16:1).  My wife, Riki, and I told our children, “stay away from the bad kids because you can sometimes get into trouble just by being near someone who is doing the wrong thing.”  And of course, “A person is judged by the company he keeps.”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman
June 17, 2015