Korach, the Divisiveness of Jealousy
Today, if one reads the daily news, it might seem that we have become one big machloket. As a government, we are in dispute with other governments in the world. Within our own medina, one party is in dispute with the other. As Am Yisrael, we are in dispute with the other nations of the world. Within our own Am, we are in dispute with each other, one “derech” pitted against the other, each one believing with all his heart that his way is the right way (and only way).
The Hebrew word for dispute is machloket. The root of the word machloket is chelek, which means portion. What was the root of Korach’s machloket? – jealousy. Korach was not satisfied with his portion. He did not want to serve HaShem as Korach, he wanted to be Kohen HaGadol. The fire of Korach’s jealousy burned through and destroyed any possibility of his attaining a pure connection with the Source of all Life, blinding him from the capacity to see, with binah, the Divine Plan of HaShem and the beautiful portion which he had already been assigned. Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter wrote on Parshat Korach that Korach was actually intended for the role of Prince of the entire Tribe of Levi. But, in his jealousy, his vision of himself was so distorted that all he could see is the “less” that he thought he was receiving.
How often do we miss out on the gifts in our own lives when we are focused on what we think are the undeserved gifts of others. Each one of us is given a personal derech, our individualized way to serve HaShem, to the best of our ability. When we try to be someone else, and serve in his or her way, then we become disappointed, jealous, and ultimately, fail to fulfill even our own purpose in the world. Chazal teach us that in beit din Shamayim, they will not ask us: “why were you not like Moshe Rabbeinu?” They will ask us, “why were you not you?”
If we take off our fiery lenses of jealousy, we will be able to see that all of Israel is one body, one people, all connected to each other like all the limbs of our body are connected together to serve the single purpose of enabling us to move. Rav Kook discusses how each organ performs a specific task for the purpose of the body’s overall health. How preposterous it would be for one organ to decide it is more important and therefore fight against another organ, bringing down the whole body.
“Who is rich? One who is happy with his lot.” Pirkei Avot, 4:1. Korach had a great future, but the fire of his jealousy consumed him. He was not happy with his lot, his portion in the Am, and therefore he lost not only his portion, but also his life.
Shabbat Shalom v’Chodesh tov,