3 min read
"And Korach took" (Numbers 16:1). Korach was an astute, wealthy and charismatic person. He had so many blessings yet he lost it all and became the paradigm of human tragedy. Rashi teaches us that what led him to make such a major mistake in life and challenge Moses was his jealousy. Jealousy has the ability to not only stop us from appreciating and enjoying what we have, but to lead us to make such ridiculous choices in life that we can lose all the blessings we have.
The Torah gives us the antidote to this by juxtaposing the tragedy of Korach with our responsibility to be generous with the blessings God gives us. A person who shares generously will learn to appreciate all that he has been given and to see that God has been generous with him.
That is why the Torah never tells us what Korach took: it didn't matter what he took; the Torah wants us to focus on his attitude and not to be like him. He was a jealous person, never satisfied with what he had, wanting to take everything he could. King Solomon says it all when he tells us that "a person with a good eye is blessed." If we look at others benevolently, rejoice in their successes, and share of our blessings, we will see that we have more than we really need, and we will be able to enjoy all that we have. That is one of the greatest blessings life has to offer.
"The staff of Aaron ... blossomed and its almonds ripened" (Numbers 17:23). King David teaches us that a "good person will blossom like a palm tree". One of the reasons a good person is compared specifically to a palm tree is that it is the only tree that will produce fruit in a desert. Its roots are so deep that it can draw water from deep under the ground. So too, a truly good person is able to do what is right, not because it's the norm in the society in which he happens to live in, but because it is what the right, moral thing to do. In every circumstance and situation, he will draw from his deep roots. He will blossom by bringing spiritual beauty and physical blessing to the world.
This is really what the Jewish people are all about; our roots are so deep, reaching all the way back to Abraham and Sarah, that wherever we have gone in over 2000 years of exile, we have managed to bring both spiritual and physical blessings to every country we have lived in.
(Based on the teaching of Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik.)