Until the most recent years, I was always baffled by Dotan and Abiram in the upcoming weekly Torah selection, Parshat Korach. Why bother with their nonsense? Did they really think anyone would take their “arguments” against Moshe seriously?
יג הַמְעַט כִּי הֶעֱלִיתָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ לַהֲמִיתֵנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר כִּי־תִשְׂתָּרֵר עָלֵינוּ גַּם־הִשְׂתָּרֵר: יד אַף לֹא אֶל־אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ הֲבִיאֹתָנוּ וַתִּתֶּן־לָנוּ נַחֲלַת שָׂדֶה וָכָרֶם הַעֵינֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים הָהֵם תְּנַקֵּר לֹא נַעֲלֶה במדבר ט”ז:יג-יד
13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us out of a land that flows with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you also make yourself a prince over us? 14 Moreover you have not brought us into a land that flows with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you take out the eyes of these men? We will not come up. (BaMidbar 16:13-14)
The blatant inversion of reality seemed absolutely irrational and my question always, even as a child, has been why would they have bothered to say something so absurd and why would the Torah have reported it?
Trying to avoid politics by refraining from opining on the merits or otherwise of the Palestinian claims for statehood, one can’t avoid seeing the almost identical inversion of history and reversal of roles that appears daily in much of their public statements. Who, American or European, Jewish or Christian, whether a supporter of a Palestinian State or one who feels they have no legitimate claim, believes that there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, that our biblical ancestors never dwelled on this land, that Jesus was a Palestinian martyr, that there is a secret program of ethnic cleansing paralleling the Holocaust (which, of course, is itself denied)? Who can miss the obvious usurpation of Jewish history, not only recorded in the Torah/Bible, but also by pre-Christian Roman historians as well as modern historians of World War II? There are people alive today who either experienced or witnessed the more recent of these events.
The sad answer is that increasing numbers of people around the world are coming to believe these fantasies. News stories daily report this bizarre phenomenon throughout Europe, spreading in the US and Latin America, becoming accepted as, forgive the ironic turn of phrase, gospel, in Academia.
And finally, after millennia, the story of Dotan and Abiram is all too starkly believable.
Yes, I bemoan and protest this sad state of affairs, but much more than that I realize the Bracha, yes, the blessing, in experiencing the actual flowering of a previously closed chapter of Torah. Perhaps every generation does have the opportunity to see a brand new facet of Torah revealed and this is merely ours. Or perhaps we, all of us, Jew and non-Jew alike, are, indeed, a generation of very special Neshamot, souls, ,living in a special time of special crises, needing and receiving the exact light required for our holy contribution to Tikkun Olam, the complete rectification and reharmonization of the world. With a great gift, remember, always comes a great responsibility.