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Korach 2018

In this week’s sedra, Korach incites a mutiny by challenging Moses’s leadership at the granting of the kehunah (priesthood) to Aaron. He allies himself with Dathan and Abiran and a further 250 distinguished members of the community, who offer ketoret (incense) to prove their own worthiness for the role. The earth opens up and swallows the rebels and a fire consumes the ketoret offerers. Subsequently a plague is stopped by Aaron’s offering, and his staff miraculously blossoms with almonds to prove his divine selection as High Priest.The terumah and gifts for the priests from each crop of grain, wine and oil and the firstborn sheep and cattle, are set out.

A thought - according to Midrash Rabbah (18:3) Korach confronted Moshe with the following question: “Is it necessary to place a mezuzah on the doorpost of a room filled with Sifrei Torah?” Moshe replied affirmatively; but Korach argued, “the whole Torah which contains 275 parshiot cannot exempt the house, yet a mezuzah which contains only two parshiot exempts it?!” Logically, Korach’s reasoning made sense: Why should a room filled with Sifrei Torah require a mezuzah on the outside?

A slogan of the early Reform movement in Germany was “Yehudi beveitecha ve’adam betzeitecha” — “Be a true Jew at home, but on the outside be a person like everyone else.” Similarly, Korach said of the Jewish people “Kol ha’eida kulam kedoshim”— “The entire community is holy” —“uvetocham Hashem” — “and G‑d is among them” (16:3). He meant that the Jews were all holy, all of the time, since they all had Hashem “betocham” — in their hearts. He was asserting, that surely it was sufficient to be a good Jew on the “inside” without openly showing it on the outside. Moshe vehemently disagreed and insisted that even if a home, or individual, is imbued with Torah on the inside, it is still imperative to also present one’s Torah convictions in public.

From the turn of events, it seems apparent that Hashem agreed with Moshe on this one.So the message is, we must always feel Jewish and proud on the inside while at the same time be prepared to show the outside world that we are not ashamed. A mezuzah on the doorpost shows everyone that this is a ‘kosher’ home and that Torah laws are important

Richard Segalov

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