08 Jul Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Korach 5776
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Korach in which Moshe and Aaron face a rebellion from their relative Korach and his followers who question Moshe and Aaron’s right to be the leaders of the Israelite people. In our hastiness (though appropriate) to come to Moshe and Aaron’s defense, what we sometimes miss is that Korach’s complaint is that in fact all the Israelites are holy, why should Moshe and Aaron be above all of us. We can very easily read Korach’s words simply to say that he wants to be more holy which is not only a reasonable request, it is an honorable one! We should all strive to elevate our personal and communal levels of holiness. But as is the case with all things, context and tone play an important part. Perhaps had Korach offered these questions in private, as opposed to in front of the Israelite people and his own supporters, God would have reacted differently. And perhaps had he said it in a friendlier tone than the one we read from the text, God might have reacted accordingly. But said as it was, it reminds us that wanting to be more holy is good, but we need to find the right ways to make that happen and the right moments to express that desire.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik