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Rabbi YY Jacobson
Diversity, Unity, Leadership & the Meaning of the Eiruv Chatzaros
Korach relates the tragic story of the mutiny staged by a man named Korach (Numbers chapter 16), who organized a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, chosen by the Almighty to serve respectively as the Prophet and as the High Priest of Israel. The rabbis in the Midrash made a strange observation. “Korah was clever,” the rabbis declare, “so why did he commit such a folly”? What propelled the wise Korach to declare war against Moses and Aron.
Their question is intriguing. How did the rabbis know that Korach was clever? Never has this person or his wisdom been mentioned in the Torah before? Whence the certainty that Korach was a wise man? Perhaps he was a fool. The answer, of course, is that the rabbis discerned the wisdom of Korach from this very incident. The very mutiny of Korach against the authority of Moses and Aaron, demonstrates wisdom and perception. But why? On the surface, the mutiny seems to be a symptom of good old jealousy, of an unbridled ego craving power and fame.
The class explores dissects the deeper argument of Korach. “The entire community is holy,” argued Korach to Moses and Aaron in this week’s portion, “and G-d is within them. Why do you exalt yourselves above the community of G-d?” These are powerful words. G-d is within each and every person. Why does anybody consider themselves spiritually superior to anybody else? Truth and holiness are imbedded in each and every soul; within every pulsating heart flows the cosmic energy, so why is Moses telling people what G-d want?
Where did Korach go wrong? We explore the nature of unity, diversity and leadership in Jewish thought. And why the story of Korach is alluded to in the word “chatzaros,” which means courtyards. The laws of making an Eiruv Chatzaros, combining all the homes in a courtyard, captures the essence of Korach’s error and the meaning of true leadership.