Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Korach - 5772
OVERCOMING A PERSONAL INSULT
The importance of Jewish unity can never be overstated. The word Shalom is uttered several times a day by the Torah Jew. Yet Machloket - personal disputes - are as common as herring in Jewish organizations.
Korach and his rebellion are the prime example of a Machloket that is based on personal motives. As the Mishnah in Avot states, “Any dispute which is for the sake of Heaven, will in the end endure. Any dispute which is not for the sake of Heaven, will not endure. Which is a dispute that is for the sake of Heaven? The disputes of the sages Hillel and Shammai. Which is a dispute that is not for the sake of Heaven? The dispute of Korach and his entire congregation."
The Talmud notes that Korach felt that he had been slighted and overlooked in the distribution of the highest priestly honors and leadership. He envied Moshe and Aharon, and also his cousin Elzaphan, who had been put in charge of the Levites after Aharon's family had become elevated to the rank of Kohanim (Priests). Not being able to deal with the insult he began his negative and destructive campaign.
To bring Shalom to the people of Israel we must first ingrain peace within ourselves. When I am satisfied with my own life and accomplishments I can deal well with a slight. If, on the other hand, my identity is only based on what others think of me, an external rejection can be devastating.
A Jewish hero is a person who can overcome a personal insult and safeguard the peace for the sake of Jewish unity.