Let’s Imitate Moses–Thoughts On Korach

I am very taken with a recent article by Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, a young journalist. In it she makes the case that our instant, reflex-like response to every call for BDS and its ilk has, by our very opposition, given these essentially empty attacks against us a life and legitimacy it otherwise would not have enjoyed.

Likewise, Parshat Korach eerily resonates with our daily news feed. Just as certain anti-Israel folks who proudly proclaim their Jewish credentials to justify their attacks, Korach tried to play his Levite card to justify his attack on Moses. קֹרַח בֶּן־יִצְהָר בֶּן־קְהָת בֶּן־לֵוִי, Korach, the son of Yitzhar the son of Kehat the son of Levi (BaMidbar 16:1-5) takes up the challenge to Moshe’s authority and Aharon’s priesthood. וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם רַב־לָכֶם כִּי כָל־הָעֵדָה כֻּלָּם קְדֹשִׁים וּבְתוֹכָם יְהוָֹה וּמַדּוּעַ תִּתְנַשְּׂאוּ עַל־קְהַל יְהוָֹה, “And they (Korach and his supporters) said to them (Moshe and Aharon), ‘You have enough!’ For all this community are holy and God is among them. Why do you appoint yourself as Prince over the Community of God?'”

After first giving his grief and shock a brief moment to manifest, וַיִּשְׁמַע מֹשֶׁה וַיִּפֹּל עַל־פָּנָיו, “And Moshe heard and fell upon his face,”, he calmly invites Korach and his followers to a demonstration of God’s will the next day, בֹּקֶר וְיֹדַע יְהוָֹה אֶת־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ וְאֶת־הַקָּדוֹשׁ, “In the morning God will make known who is His and holy.” After this, he tries to negotiate with them and, when that fails, insecure and questioning himself, he reminds The Creator that he has brought none of this upon himself.

This is not followed by any scenes of Moshe organizing protests, gathering supporters nor publicly arguing with Korach. In today’s culture, one could say that he doesn’t flood the world with op-eds and facebook posts. No tweets. Rather, what Moshe does, and has always done, is to advocate for the welfare of the Jewish People. He pleads before God to not penalize them for the actions of just a few, הָאִישׁ אֶחָד יֶחֱטָא וְעַל כָּל־הָעֵדָה תִּקְצֹף, “Will one man sin and You be furious with all the community?” (ibid. 22)

Korach’s rebellion could easily have become a permanent “faction of the disgruntled” within the Jewish People. Had Moshe felt it incumbent on himself to hold a series of public debates, rather than walking away and allowing Korach to demonstrate his own folly and insignificance, who knows what divisions would have been sown in Bnei Yisrael.

Although in official function Moshe, as both Navi, Prophet, and Nasi, leader, was somewhat separated from the people, he never saw himself as above or superior to Bnei Yisrael. Totally without arrogance,  וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה ענו מְאֹד מִכֹּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר עַל־פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה, “And the man Moshe was very humble, more than every man on the face of the earth” (BaMidbar 12:3)–he never saw himself as more than a man. גּוֹי אֶחָד בָּאָרֶץ (Goy Echad B’Aretz), “One nation on the earth” (Samuel II 7:23), parallel to יְהוָֹה אֶחָד (Adoney Echad), “One God” (Devarim 6:4) was and is his highest teaching. Flattering our own senses of cleverness with cutting remarks in the press or on social media, even inadvertently contributing to the fragmentation of Israel is the most destructive action any of us can take. Enabling trouble-makers by giving them attention, as every parent knows, is always a mistake. Perhaps for Moshe, his own lack of eloquence, אֲנִי עֲרַל שְׂפָתַיִם, “I am of ‘uncircumcised” lips” (Devarim 6:30) became a strength. May we learn from his strength.

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1 Response to Let’s Imitate Moses–Thoughts On Korach

  1. Mr. Cohen says:

    Boo Hoo Palestine by Pat Condell, 2014 October 20


    Despite the recent enthusiasm we have seen in the West for recognizing the non-existent country of Palestine, the much-vaunted Two-State-Solution is a fantasy, that has no chance of leading to peace; because the Palestinians, or to use the correct term, Arabs, have proven beyond any doubt that they are not negotiating in good faith, that they cannot be trusted to keep their word, and that any agreement they sign will be worthless.

    They initiate all the violence in the region, and they break every cease-fire, because they do not want negotiations or a Two-State-Solution, and they are not even keeping it a secret. They keep telling us: they want a One-State-Solution with no Israel and no Jews;
    and they pledged to never stop fighting until that day comes; both Hamas and the supposedly-moderate Fatah [PLO]; and we have no excuse for not listening.
    But we will find one, as usual, won’t we?

    Any agreement they do sign will be simply a stepping-stone to a better vantage-point from which to attack and destroy Israel; every Arab knows this is true. So any future Palestinian State will be like Gaza is today: a racist apartheid state, devoid of Jews on pain-of-death; and a launch-pad for daily rocket-attacks on Israeli civilians, until the Israelis finally lose patience and retaliate, and the world condemns them as Nazis.

    The pattern has been set:
    Palestinian terrorism is always rewarded, and that it why it never stops.
    And we in the West are helping to bankroll it; we can’t throw enough money their way. So much money that the leaders of Hamas, supposedly former refugees, are personal billionaires, while the people they claim to represent live in misery.

    Killing Jews for Allah is very lucrative, because it is popular with the rest of the world; if it were not popular, it would not be lucrative.

    And this despite the fact that Israel has NEVER initiated violence against any of its neighbors; it has only ever responded to it. The Israeli Army takes more care than any other to minimize civilian casualties, and everybody knows this; but this is never a feature of any news report, because it sends the wrong message; it tells the truth.

    But despite the media’s criminal dishonesty and bias, many people are now beginning to see for themselves, even if they can’t quite bring themselves to admit it, yet, that Arab/Muslim Jew-hatred is root-cause of this problem; it is the poison at the heart of it, and until it is confronted and dealt with, honestly and effectively, by the rest of us, including especially the media, the Two-State-Solution will remain self-congratulatory fantasy of stupid Western politicians.

    But something else that really does not help the emotional temperature of the situation is the fact that the Arabs are clearly jealous of Jews. And with good reason; they can see the disproportionate contributions that Jews have made to human advancement, in contrast to their own contribution, which is virtually nil. And they can see what a civilized and prosperous society the Jews have created in their midst, in contrast to their own racist, misogynist and deeply ignorant culture, with its childish honor-shame culture, which has no honor, and of which they ought to be ashamed.

    Also, the Jews have given the Arabs a tidy spanking, several times, when attacked unprovoked, despite being heavily outnumbered. It seems that everything the Jews do, they do better. No wonder the Arabs are jealous. It must infuriate them that they very people their infallible religion [Islam] depicts as inferior, as apes and pigs, have turned out to be clearly superior; that has got to hurt!

    And it must infuriate them to know that the world is openly patronizing them by giving them all this unwarranted attention and money. We all know they do not deserve it, and if they were measured by the standards we apply to everyone else, they would not get it. But we hold Arabs to lower standards; we expect less of them, because we are racists.

    And they are so stupid and self-indulgent, they milk it for all it is worth, and they end up expecting less of themselves, a lot less, which is exactly what they get. And it is what we all get, when show yet again, that they cannot be trusted, by breaking yet another cease-fire, by attacking innocent women and children in the most cowardly way, and are not held to account for it; but on the contrary, are rewarded, yet again.

    That is why this conflict is self-perpetuating. That is why the Two-State-Solution is a fantasy, and for once, we in the eternally guilt-ridden West really can’t blame ourselves.

    *** THE END ***

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