Parashat Korach – “Ma-aseh avot siman lebanim” 2009

Korach June 18, 2009

Every story in the Torah tells us something about then and how it applies to now. This is called “Ma-aseh avot siman lebanim”= what happens in the lives of our forefathers serves as a lesson and warning to us, their children, now. In the previous parsha, we learn of the tribal leaders that brought the children of Israel out of Egypt but who suffered from erroneous vision pertaining to the Land of Israel and not trusting Hashem in his promise about this. This parsha focuses also on harmful vision, when the Torah authority of Moshe Rabbeinu was challenged. The revolt, led by Korach Datan and Aviram was ultimately answered by Hashem’s response when the earth opened up and swallowed the rebels. They blackballed Moshe Rabbeinu’s superiority in delegating the sacred spheres of the work of the High Priests. This attitude stemmed from pure arrogance, as they wanted the prestige and position in direct contradiction to humble Moshe who acted solely as the agent of Hashem.

Subverting the Divinely ordained authority of our Sages and Rabbis is a theme that has unfortunately repeated itself all through-out time. This is done in a number of ways, changing the context of a law in order to have an easier lifestyle, misinterpreting Hashem’s will because of the lack of fear of heaven, and assimilating. Today it is difficult for us to really see Divine intervention as it was in the days that the ground opened up its mouth and swallowed the arrogant. Today it is a harder test because your vision has to be so acute just to see the hints of what happens in your life and feel the Divine Providence guiding it. You may even be a lone fish swimming upstream.

Following G-d’s law is a privilege, but as we choose to follow it, we can’t choose to change it. True, there are 70 faces to the torah. Don’t let this confuse you. There may be many spices to it- but the Torah itself is one. If even a person who calls himself a torah authority does something intrinsically against the torah, like condoning the surrendering of parts of the Holy Land under the “lie” of peacemaking with murderous enemies, this is a perversion of the Torah! If someone calls himself a Rabbi, yet overlooks halacha like the laws of kashrut or spiritual impurities, he is no Rabbi, but someone looking for a position of power and prestige, like the people that bought priesthood in the days the 2nd temple stood in a blasphemous act of haughtiness and self pride- nothing to do with what Hashem wanted from them.

These last 2 parshiyot clearly tell us that we have to listen to Hashem and what he wants. If we can internalize into our hearts our specific reason for coming into the world, into our specific course of life, then maybe we would understand a little more what Hashem wants specifically from us in this place at this time. This is what we learn from these parashot. It doesn’t say anywhere in the torah to wear a garment made just of techeylet, but the commandment is to explicitly wear it on the fringes of the tzitzit any deviation from this path is going against the word of G-D. It doesn’t say a Levi has the job of a Cohen, nor can a Yisrael go into the chamber of chambers. Every person, born into this world has a path they have to choose, yes- but Hashem has put them into their life to do their specific job. May we make our choices from the authority Hashem’s torah!

Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith

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