Korach: No Status Quo

Another episode of conflict, I presume? The parshah may bear the name of Korach, but we cannot...

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The topic of leadership is both fascinating and fundamental to human society. In Parshas Shoftim, the Torah discusses the three categories of Jewish leadership: The melech (king), the Sanhedrin (courts), and the kohanim (priests). What is the Jewish approach to leadership, and how does it compare to other perspectives on leadership?

How much is really in our control?

In the midst of his five-week-long farewell speech, Moshe Rabbeinu informs B’nei Yisrael that Hashem does not ask much of them. “Only to fear Him,” Moshe assures the nation (D’varim 10:12).

What a difference a word makes!

Parshas Re’eh opens on an intense note: There will be blessing for following Hashem’s mitzvos, and a curse for defying them. But there is a discrepancy in how these consequences are presented. While the good things will happen “when” we listen to Hashem, the bad things will only occur “if” we disobey (D’varim 11:27-28).

I want the very best.” That’s what we tell ourselves, isn’t it? As human beings, we understand that there is a spectrum of quality for everything, and we want only the best. We desire the best relationships, teachers, friends, food, clothing, experiences, the best of everything. But what makes something the best? Sometimes, it’s the quantity; this brand supplies more of its product for the same price. But often, it’s the quality that makes the difference. When you pay an increased rate for a service, experience, or luxury, you do so with the assumption that you are receiving a higher quality product, one that is fundamentally improved from the basic, standard package. With this in mind, let us explore a unique idea connected to Parshas Eikev.

There’s a story of two elderly men who were childhood friends but had not seen each other in many years. One day, they ran into each other on the street, and were delighted to recognize one another. One of them lived in the area, so he invited the other into his home. They happily catch each other up on their lives, getting lost in their stories and jokes as the day goes on. The guest finally noticed that it had become dark outside, so he asked his friend if he had the time.

“Be comforted, be comforted, My people.”

What exactly is so comforting about Shabbos Nachamu? We just completed a painful three-week process, trying to internalize how lost we are without the Beis HaMikdash. On Tish’ah B’Av we sat on the floor and bemoaned all of the tragedies that have taken place since, and as a result of, the Churban. But has anything changed since then? Unfortunately, despite the very meaningful Tish’ah B’Av experiences, we still find ourselves in exile, bereft of a Mikdash. Why should we feel any sense of consolation – and what does Shabbos have to do with any of this?