Shabbat Shalom welcome and a huge thank you for coming to listen to both my dvar torah, and Luca reading his parsha Korach today in Shul. . Well done, Luca, I thought you were fabulous!
Korach was the leader of a rebellion against Moses and his brother Aaron, during the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Land of Israel. In spite of already holding a prominent position within the community he was jealous of Moses’ position.
I would like to share with you some thoughts from this Sedra whose central themes are peace, whether in a family or the community. And secondly, making choices whether to do right or wrong, good or bad.
For me this parsha spoke on two levels. Firstly, the possibility of peace, and each and every one of us acting together, to bring about a better family, community and ultimately world around us. Secondly, the parsha speaks to me that I always have the active choice to make a decision to do right or wrong, good or bad.
The Parsha talks about the TERRIBLE arguments that took place amongst the Jewish people. Korach, accused Moses of wrongly taking the leadership of the Jewish people. Korach was a very argumentative man with a VERY JEALOUS wife. He managed to get two hundred and fifty people together to bring about a MAJOR rebellion. Hashem had to show the people that arguing and trying to be better than others was a BAD way of living, and in the end the earth opens -up and SWALLOWS Korach and those who got themselves involved in this DEVASTATING argument.
When I first read this parsha, it seemed like quite a harsh punishment?! Why did Korach and his followers get such a heavy punishment? Judaism looks at quarrelling as one of the most SERIOUS sins. This is because it goes against the essential unity of Hashem. In Hebrew the word for peace is SHALOM. It comes from the root SHALEM which means WHOLE. Peace does not necessarily mean that there is no conflict, it means that there is a relationship where both parties care for each other, help each other, and ultimately complete each other.
There are three key lessons we can learn from this story. The first lesson is about patience and humility. In this story, we can only imagine the pain that Moses must have felt when his cousin Korach, together with a group of people HE had influenced, accused Moses of being selfish. After all he had sacrificed and done for the people.
By all rights Moses, as appointed leader by Hashem, would have been justified in reacting furiously. But instead, he tried to reason with them and humble himself. Moses made every effort to make peace. Here again we are given a profound lesson, if arguments and disagreements affect us in any way, we should not stand on ceremony, but we should be the first to put out the hand of peace. Let’s try to learn from Moses’s example to pursue peace and make every attempt to stop arguments.
The second key lesson we learn from this story is the danger of JEALOUSY! Jealousy is the most terrible trait a person can harbor. So, how can we protect ourselves from its deadly sting?
Whenever we feel it let's keep in mind that jealousy is POINTLESS and self-destructive. The negative feelings that jealousy brings will not change our situation at all and it will make us feel that what we have isn't enough. If anything, jealousy will make the situation worse. What we are jealous
of will not become ours but will make us forget and not appreciate what we actually do have. And the feeling will turn us into bitter individuals. There is a wise saying, “If you don’t have what you want, want what you have.”
This is a very valuable lesson in life - the torah tells us not to envy others but to be happy with our own blessings and the blessings of others.
In Pirkei Avot, Benzoma said, “Who is rich? One who appreciates what one has.” Happiness is not gained by comparing yourselves with others, but by taking pleasure in what you and others have. Let us not be like Korach, who at first had everything but in the end had NOTHING.
The third lesson that I would like to share with you is the importance of mixing with people who have a good influence on us. What I mean by that is if you surround yourself with good people, you're most likely to be influenced in a good way. However, if you surround yourself with bad people, you're most likely to be badly influenced and turn out like them. We see this from Korach who turned two hundred and fifty people against Moses which shows how easy it can be for someone to influence others badly. We are told that from the twelve tribes it was the tribe of Reuben that had lots of people that joined the rebellion. Our Rabbi’s tell us, “Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbour.” We must be careful when choosing a place to live, as our neighbours can influence us without us even realising it. This applies also to our friends that we mix with.
All the lessons in this week's parsha have great significance as I start my journey from childhood to adulthood. So, what does Bat mitzvah mean? Well, it means that I am now a Jewish woman responsible for my actions and I am now mature enough to decide how I live my life. Everything I do and choose will reflect on who I am. I hope I will be a good ambassador for the Jewish people, and that the lessons that I have learnt from studying this week's parsha will guide me to remind myself that I will be a kind and thankful young woman.
Thank you for listening and thank you for your time. I hope you enjoyed my dvar torah.