Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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Korach is one of the Torah’s most controversial characters. He raised a 250-person rebellion against Moses and Aaron, questioned their power, and encouraged discontent amongst the Israelites. As punishment for their actions, God opened the earth and swallowed up Korach and all of his followers! Yet, many scholars wonder whether Korach was really a bad guy and whether his punishment was justified. After all, wasn’t Korach simply advocating for democracy and empowerment of the common people? According to Mishnah Avot, the sayings of our sages, “Any dispute for the sake of heaven will have enduring value, but every dispute not for the sake of Heaven will not have enduring value. What is an example of a dispute for the sake of heaven? The dispute between Hillel and Shammai. What is an example of one not for the sake of heaven? The dispute of Korach and all his company.”  Our ancient sages are saying that Korach’s rebellion was not “for the sake of heaven." It was not motivated by righteous concerns. Had he been truly interested in creating equality between the people and their leaders, he would have used a different approach to create an enduring solution. Korach could have spoken with Moses and Aaron privately to voice his concerns and collaborate on a compromise. Instead, he approached them forcefully, with 250 men in tow, and created rifts within the congregation to boost his own position. The story of Korach and his company teaches us a valuable lesson about our own “rebellions.” When we oppose a person, an idea, or a system, what is our method of confrontation and what is our ultimate goal? Are we fighting for a selfish cause, or is our goal to create enduring value more profound than our own egos?  

 

Student Rabbi, Sarah Rosenbaum Jones

In this week's parasha, God instructed Moses to send twelve spies to scout out the Promised Land. When the spies entered Canaan, they saw a land flowing with milk and honey and ripe fruit. They also noticed the powerful residents, their fortified cities, and a few of their historical enemy tribes. Suddenly, their feelings of elation morphed into fear. Ten of the twelve spies allowed their fear to prevail. Those ten fearful spies caused the entire community to lose faith and were punished--they were destined to die in the desert and never enter Canaan, while Joshua and Caleb, the two spies that maintained faith, were permitted to enter the Promised Land. This story, despite its dramatic ending, is not so foreign to us. We too may feel that we cannot face the hill in front of us, the project before us, or the powerful people around us. Philosopher Alan Watts said that the antidote to fear is not courage, but rather curiosity.  Curiosity is a set of actions and, even more so, it is a mindscape.  Curiosity encourages us to walkthrough the world with an open mind, eager to expand our knowledge and understanding. When faced with conflict or fear, curiosity is our friend, allowing us to recognize multiple perspectives and develop empathy for others. Curiosity’s cognitive-behavioral benefits have the ability to subdue fear’s tight emotional hold. Curiosity may have dramatically altered our biblical ancestors' trajectory and has the power to transform our own moments of fear into opportunities for exploration. 

There are many verses in the Torah in which both Moses and Aaron are mentioned.  But very seldom do we find Aaron listed first, as in Numbers 3:1:  “This is the line of Aaron and Moses….”  A list of both of their descendants should follow, but, in fact, only Aaron’s line is mentioned.  A. B. Ehrlich explained: “while in monarchy and priesthood hereditary succession obtains, it does not in matters of prophecy.” (UAHC Torah, p. 1047)  Thus, even if Moses wanted to pass on his leadership position to his progeny, he could not. Only God can give the gift that made Moses a leader: Prophecy. Therefore Moses’ sons need not be mentioned in this list of inherited leadership. This weekend, the world will witness another royal wedding in England. Inherited leadership and the pageantry that goes along with it fascinate many.  But, for the past 2000 years since the destruction of the Temple, Jews have, for the most part, rejected inherited leadership. Scholarship rather than prophecy became the chief qualification.

May FOOD OF THE MONTH: canned or dried beans

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This Week at BHT

18 Jun 2018
06:00PM -
BAC Meeting
20 Jun 2018
12:00PM -
Lake County Lunch and Learns
20 Jun 2018
07:00PM -
Food for Thought Class
21 Jun 2018
12:00AM
Visibility Event
21 Jun 2018
06:45PM -
LC Meeting
22 Jun 2018
05:45PM -
Kabbalat Shabbat
26 Jun 2018
04:00PM -
Shalom Center Soup Kitchen
27 Jun 2018
07:00PM -
Food for Thought Class
29 Jun 2018
05:45PM -
Kabbalat Shabbat
01 Jul 2018
12:00AM
MCC Pledges Due New Year