Friday, June 22, 2012

Korach Couldn't Compromise

Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) tells the story of a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron.  Korach, the great grandson of Levi, persuades at least 250 others to join him with the challenge that 'All the people are holy.  Why, then do you raise yourselves above God's congregation?' Moses, stunned by Korach's words, instructs Korach and crew to bring fire pans and incense to the sanctuary the next day so that 'God will make known who is holy and who is not.'  Moses then asks Korach why, since he has been given special duties in the sanctuary and opportunities for leadership, he is now seeking the priesthood that God has given to Aaron.' The next morning Korach, who has by then rallied most of the community to his cause, meets Moses and Aaron in front of the sanctuary.  As instructed, all carry a fire pan with hot coals and incense.  Moses announces that if the earth opens and swallows Korach it will mean that God has 'sent me (Moses) to lead you'.  And, as we now know, the earth opens and swallows not only Korach but also his family and all those who took up his cause and their families and even their possessions.
Seen as a metaphor instead of an accurate reciting of an historic event, we might observe that Moses tried to cross the aisle of challenge and disagreement to encourage Korach to see his own value to the community and to perhaps even compromise.  Korach, already swallowed by his own dogma, could not hear the attempt by Moses to negotiate some sort of solution to Korach's challenge.  And what might this mean to us today?  It is unbelievably easy to be consumed by our own needs for recognition or by our own beliefs to the extent that we become unable to even acknowledge that others may be trying to help us or meet us half way.  Ultimately, then, we can be swallowed up by our own quests and challenges and lose not only ourselves but also all that is meaningful and precious to us.  The ripple effect of all of this may be that our families, our communities, even all that we have accumulated in our lives may also be lost. We avoid this 'losing' by listening and harkening to those around us who reach out to help us slow down, compromise, and rediscover who we are.  By so doing we safeguard not only our communities but also our families and ourselves.
Shabbat Shalom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds very similar to today's political situation. I wonder who will be consumed by their own dogma and who will survive.