Korach (Numbers 16-18 )
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GOOD MORNING! Is intermarriage a concern for you - either for yourself or for your kids? Would you be interested if there was one book - intelligent, straightforward, well-researched, informative, compassionate and comprehensive? Then I have good news for you! Recently a new book was published: Why Marry Jewish? Surprising Reasons for Jews to Marry Jews by Doron Kornbluth (available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242).
As the author of How to Stop an Intermarriage (soon to be reprinted in a new expanded edition renamed How to Prevent an Intermarriage - A guide for preventing broken hearts), I feel eminently qualified to unreservedly recommend this book!
I remember the woman who sat in my study crying for over an hour about her only son's plans to marry someone non-Jewish. Whatever I recommended - including asking the most basic, innocuous questions - was rejected out of hand with the heart-wrenching words, "I don't want to lose him; I can't do anything!" The only thing I could recommend to her was to see a psychologist to deal with her pain, depression, anger and sorrow so that at least she would not ruin her own life. Now I could at least recommend that she give him this book.
Why Marry Jewish is amazing! If there is any possibility of getting your child to be rational (as opposed to rationalizing) and to keep his/her emotions and fantasies in check - then this book can help penetrate his mind and heart with wisdom, facts, experience. It is full of research data on what really happens to intermarried couples and their kids. It very well might make a very big difference to someone considering intermarriage!
The book is written for the Jew who doesn't care about Judaism and for whom Judaism is irrelevant to his choice of a marriage partner! It appeals to the individual who wants solely his own pleasure and happiness. And it demonstrates, stimulates inquiry, thinking and introspection to help your child realize that s/he is making quite possibly a very big mistake that will not lead to marital bliss, a loving family and living happily ever after!
As I mentioned, the book has a very compassionate approach. Blame is not the issue. Happiness is the issue. Will an intermarriage lead to happiness? Why are the divorce rates higher? What happens with the kids? Will kids of an intermarriage marry Jews? What about latent and resurgent religious feelings? What happens with the extended family and on the holidays? What happens to the pre-marital agreements?
Recently, I was speaking with a Jewish young man married to a Baptist woman and the father of a young child. It is eating him up that his wife takes the child to church each week. I asked him, "Didn't you discuss how you were going to raise your children before you got married?" "Yes," he replied, "She told me I could raise them Jewish." I asked him what happened to the agreement. He told me, "She said I could raise them Jewish, but she told me that she never said that she wouldn't raise them Baptist. She lied to me!" [I once heard that Nevil Chamberlain's (the prime minister of England who gave Adolph Hitler Czechoslovakia to ensure "peace in our time" rather than confront him) last words were, "Everything would have been OK if Hitler hadn't lied to me."]
A colleague told me about a couple who consulted him about getting divorced. They had been married one year, though they had lived together for 7 years. Why were they getting divorced? She wanted children; he didn't want kids. How was it that this just became an issue? In their 7 years of living together they never discussed the topic of children. Marriage is not a Hollywood love affair. It is a union of two people into a new entity. There are so many issues to discuss ... and an intermarriage increases the number of issues. Why Marry Jewish raises the issues and gives solid facts from studies to help base decisions. The more information, the better the decision one can make.
Why Marry Jewish is an easy read and a compelling read. It should be given to every Bar or Bat Mitzvah!
Torah Portion of the Week
There are two rebellions this week. First, Korach, a Levite who was passed over for the leadership of his tribe, challenges Moshe over the position of High Priest. No good rebellion can be "sold" as a means for personal gain, so Korach convinces 250 men of renown that they must stand up for a matter of principle - that each and every one of them has the right to the office of High Priest (which Moshe had announced that God had already designated his brother Aharon to serve).
Fascinatingly, all 250 followers of Korach accept Moshe's challenge to bring an offering of incense to see who God will choose to fill the one position. This meant that every man figured he would be the one out of 250 to not only be chosen, but to survive the ordeal. Moshe announces that if the earth splits and swallows up the rebels it is a sign that he (Moshe) is acting on God's authority. And thus it happened!
The next day the entire Israelite community rises in a second rebellion and complains to Moshe, "You have killed God's people!" The Almighty brings a plague which kills 14,700 people and only stops when Aharon offers an incense offering.
To settle the question once and for all, Moshe has the head of each tribe bring a staff with his name on it. The next morning only Aharon's staff had blossomed and brought forth almonds. The people were shown this sign. Aharon's staff was placed in front of the curtain of the ark as testimony for all time.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
In response to Korach's rebellion, Moshe sets forth a very strong response. The Torah states:
"And Moshe said, 'With this you shall know that the Almighty sent me to do all these things, I did not make them up.' " (Numbers 16:28)
Moshe then goes on to tell Korach and his followers that they would die unnatural deaths (verses 16:29-35). This might appear very cruel on Moshe's part. To explain Moshe's reaction, the Alshich (a noted commentary) gives the analogy of a doctor who sees a need to amputate a person's hand or foot in order that a disease should not spread. Although this might seem cruel, it is really an act of kindness because it saves the person's life. Similarly, Moshe saw that Korach's rebellion was spreading and he had 250 followers already. In order to save the rest of the nation, Moshe, with his compassion for everyone else, had to use stringent measures.
True kindness at times will obligate us to use approaches that might appear very strict. However, the key factor is always our motivation for the entire situation. If someone sees a young child playing with matches and grabs them from him, the child will most probably cry and think that this person is very cruel. Only a person who is apathetic or callous would allow the child to continue playing with matches.
Using harsh measures when they are not absolutely needed is cruel; failing to use harsh measures when they are the only approach available in order to help someone is also cruel. The person who is truly kind will weigh each situation carefully to see what is needed.
CANDLE LIGHTING - July 4:
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Guatemala 6:16 Hong Kong 6:53 Honolulu 6:58
J'Burg 5:10 London 8:59 Los Angeles 7:50
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New York 8:11 Singapore 6:56
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Assumption can be the mother of disaster.
In memory of