Rabbi’s Torah Thoughts


Here’s a video of this week’s Torah Thoughts read by the Rabbi if you’d prefer not to read it: 

Torah Thoughts
Torah Thoughts

Torah Thoughts – Korah

In Jewish tradition, even Moses made mistakes. Yes, the man who single handedly confronted Pharaoh, led our people out of Egypt, and received the Ten Commandments on Sinai, was fallible. Not only can we question his judgments today, three thousand years after the fact, but he was even questioned in his own life time. No more so than in this week’s Torah portion, when Korah, part of the Levitical leadership, confronts Moses with two hundred and fifty other elders and demands change. What ensues is a horrific power struggle that leads to God opening up the earth to swallow the insurgents.

When Rabbi Mason was in town a few weeks ago, he taught a lesson on “Humility and True Leadership.” He used the example of Hillel, who even when confronted by a man intentionally trying to aggravate him on the eve of Shabbat, never gets flustered. In a series of anecdotes included in the Talmud in Tractate Shabbat (30b-31a), Hillel demonstrates his fortitude against hecklers intentionally trying to perturb the famous rabbi. The most popular of these stories, has the person asking him to teach him all of Torah on one foot, to which Hillel responds, “That which is hateful to you do not do to another, that is the entire Torah, and the rest is interpretation. Go study.”

What is amazing in each story is how quickly Hillel is able to diffuse the situation. While Hillel’s counterpart Shamai is enraged by each ridiculous demand made of him, often chasing the person away with his measuring rod, Hillel always has the perfect answer. Moses, in this week’s Torah portion, is not so lucky. He tries, approaching each rebel coalition to try to bring them back in the fold, but in the end nothing works. Not even Moses can be Hillel. In the end, Moses must spend his energy keeping the community together. True leadership sometimes is about making the best of a bad situation. To paraphrase Hillel, as long as we treat one another with respect, the rest will work itself out.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Alex

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Last updated: June 23, 2017 at 8:19 am