Thursday, June 18, 2015

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother
Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM.

In this week's Parshah Korach  (Bamidbor [Numbers] 16:1- 18:32) we read how Korach, a member of the Levitic tribe, challenged Moses' authority and appointed himself to the high priesthood. The Torah teaches that Korach was punished for his insubordination when the earth "opened up its mouth" and swallowed him up.

Let's analyze what Korach did. He gave expression to his soul's awesome and unbridled yearning for the spiritual sublimation of high priesthood. Was that wrong? Every soul is suffused with divine passion. Was Korach meant to restrain his passion for G-d?

The Answer Is: Yes

Yes, even the most sublime strivings of the spirit must be restrained when its passion drives a wedge between ourselves and others.

We know our passion is misdirected when it prompts us to look down on others who have achieved less than us or begrudge those who have achieved more.

We know our passion has led us astray when in our zeal to reach the synagogue we fail to notice the person begging for alms on the road.

We know our passion is toxic when our enthusiasm for Torah prevents us from befriending those who have yet to embrace it themselves.

True love for G-d should not drive us from each other; G-d loves others as much as he loves us.1

Now we understand where Korach went wrong. Korach's zeal for the high priesthood led him to a rebellion that was bitterly divisive. This was the first indicator that his passion for G-d was misguided; his love was not true and his beauty was not pristine. Korach was toxic and had to be stopped.

Spiritual energy that brings us closer to G-d and to others is sacred and must never be stifled. It must radiate through everything we do.

This brand of soul energy is graced with beauty. Every deed, every prayer, every devotion must be infused with it.

(Excerpts from – by Rabbi Lazer Gurkow)

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