Korach 5768

June 23, 2009

9 min read


Korach (Numbers 16-18 )

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GOOD MORNING! I was flying back to Miami from NY. I introduced myself to the woman sitting next to me. She introduced herself ... and then launched into a 7 minute history of her life, an oral rendition of her resume, her experiences as a psycho-therapist, the books she's written, the prestigious institutions and organizations for which she has consulted ... and an overview on the State of the World.

I sat there stunned. I had uncorked a verbal Vesuvius ... and the words just kept flowing. "The world is getting crazier and crazier!" "Why?" I asked. "There are more wars" "Why do you think that is?" I enquired. "There's more violence." "What is the cause?" I queried. "There's more insanity." "Why more insanity?" I implored. And she responded, "Did I tell you I wrote a book about this?" And I beseeched, "And in your 300 pages, did you come up with a reason?" She ignored the question and continued ... "and I've written other books, too!"

Later she told me that a friend of hers, also a psycho-therapist, had been calling her every hour begging to accompany her on the trip. "She's crazy! All psycho-therapists are crazy!" "Why?" I probed. "Because they go into psychotherapy to understand themselves and find out that they are crazy."

"Perhaps," I observed, "that's why the world is getting crazier and crazier ... our mental health is in the hands of the crazies!"

As she sat there contemplating the profundity of this idea, a brilliant gambit popped into my mind on how to extricate myself from 3 hours of verbal onslaught ... I gave her the copy of Real Power by David Lieberman I was holding (it has the subtitle: Rise Above Your Nature and Never Feel Angry, Anxious or Insecure Again!) "Here, I think you will find this really interesting." And for the next 3 hours I was able to sleep ... except for the 2 times she woke me up to ask me, "Did I tell you I wrote a book on this subject?"

I don't know which part of this fascinating book intrigued her, but the following section was one of many parts that captivated me. So, I share this excerpt with you!

"Within human beings, three inner forces exist and are often at odds with each other: the body, the ego, and the soul. In short, the body wants to do what feels good; the ego wants to do what looks good; and the soul wants to do what is good. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, the three forces all battle it out. If we hit the snooze button, guess who won the first round?

"Doing what is easy or comfortable is a body drive. Examples of overindulgences of this force are overeating or oversleeping - in effect, doing or not doing something we know we should or should not do, merely because of how it feels. Basically, the body just wants to escape from it all.

"An ego drive can run the gamut from making a joke at someone else's expense to buying a flashy car that is beyond our means. When we are motivated by ego, we do things that we believe project the right image of ourselves. These choices are not based on what is good, but on what makes us look good.

"If we cannot control ourselves and we succumb to immediate gratification or strive to keep up an image, then we become angry with ourselves, and feel empty inside. To compensate for these feelings of guilt and inadequacy, the ego engages and we become egocentric. As a result, our perspective narrows, and we see more of the self and less of the world; this makes us increasingly more sensitive and unstable.

"We only gain self-esteem when we are able to make responsible choices, and do what is right, regardless of what we feel like doing or how it appears to others - this is a soul choice. In turn, we rise to a higher and healthier perspective, because self-esteem and the ego are inversely related; like a see-saw, when one goes up the other goes down.

"While our mood will inevitably fluctuate as a result of our circumstances, our emotional well-being remains largely immune from conditions and experiences of all types, positive and negative.

"Research indicates that big lottery winners often lead miserable lives after their windfall. A statistically uneven number of suicides, murders, drunk-driving arrests, divorces, even bankruptcies that befall "winners" have led to studies of a lottery curse. People find it difficult to comprehend why such misfortune follows those who suddenly become so fortunate. The reason is quite clear. Since self-esteem comes from making good choices, we (with instant money or fame) now have more ammunition for greater unconstructive behavior and indulgences.

"Logic therefore dictates that if we are in control of ourselves, and act responsibly, we can never be deeply bothered by anyone or anything. We are not a casualty of anything other than our own behavior, because nothing affects us; we affect everything."

Real Power can help a person with low self-esteem, negative emotions, and unhappy relationships in his life -- and the precise method that dissolves these barriers to happiness. The book can help one break free from anxiety, stress, and worry, and stengthen one's self-image and self-confidence. It is available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.

For more on "Fighting the Yetzer Hara" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!

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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 G-d 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 G-d 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 G-d'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 G-d'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.

* * *

Dvar Torah
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.

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What is difference between soul and soil?
One has an "i" the other a "u" !
-- Rabbi Emanuel Jacobovits

Happy 75th Birthday
George Bergmann
Love, Marla

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

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