Lessons of Life from the Torah


Lessons of Life from the Torah


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Choosing Sides

By Nachum Mohl

Sometimes in life we are draw into arguments that we would rather not be involved with. One side says one thing and the other side says just the opposite. Before we know it we find ourself in the middle of an argument and we become obliged to take one side.

Perhaps one of the greatest arguments that was recorded in the Torah was that of Korach and Moses. Korach and Moses were cousins, their fathers were brothers. Moses' and Aaron's father was the oldest of the brothers and Korach's father was the second oldest. Korach felt bypassed when honors were given out to the son of a younger brother. He was outraged, he was convinced that he was bypassed unjustly. He went out of his way to convince everyone of Moses' error and obvious bias.

Being a person of no small intellectual abilities, Korach convinced no less than all the great scholars plus the judges of the courts that he was snubbed and overlooked on purpose by Moses. He took his case before Moses and Moses proposed a test. If it were from Moses' own doing let it be shown, but if it were upon divine instructions, let Korach's case be shown by divine intervention. Eventually Korach and those who were with him were devoured alive when the earth split open under their feet and they fell into the interior of the earth to a horrible death.

We must ask that since all the stories in the Torah come to teach us something, what can we learn from this?

Perhaps one of the most important, yet less obvious, lessons in life is not to get involved in arguments that are not ours. Although Korach was a man of great stature and one of the great thinkers and speakers of his time, a person who was respected by many including the great leaders and judges of Israel, he used his great abilities to convince others of his righteousness. We know that Moses was not a "great speaker"; he had a speech impediment and stuttered. Moses possessed humility which gave him his ability to bring the word of G-d down to the Jews. They believed him neither because of his ability to speak effectively nor his charisma, but because they had witnessed the signs and wonders that G-d did for them at Moses' behest.

Korach on the other hand was a great speaker, an intelligent man, charismatic, and capable of presenting a very strong case. Unfortunately this was not a high school debating team event. Korach encroached on the divine revelation that Moses brought down; Korach's logical argument could have made sense against another logical argument, but here it was the divine will that Moses revealed which was not in the relm of logic.

Korach should have known better. Logic is pertinent in analytical debate but not against divine revelation. For this, Korach was punished and the earth opened up and swallowed him alive.

But the great scholars and judges that took Korach's side also were losers. What business did they have getting involved with Korach's complaint against Moses? And if they were to get involved, why did they not discuss Korach's accusations with Moses in a honest fact seeking manner before becoming emotionally involved in an argument that was not theirs? They would have been better off not to get involved at the begining!

This is the message that we should take from this incident. If great men of stature known for their abilities to think clearly and honestly can be swayed to take a side in an argument that is not theirs, what about us common folk who do not possess great intellectual abilities? Should we not be extra careful that when a friend or neighbor comes to us with a complaint that another friend or neighbor did such and such, we should stay out of the argument!

The intellect is no match for the heart in making judgments. Once the heart feels the justice of one side, it is extremely difficult for the logical side of man to regain the ability to impartially judge the situation. This applies to that which we hear from our friends and neighbors as well as reports that we hear or read about in the media.

Today it is rare that someone will make the gross mistake of Korach, to disagree with divine revelation, but it is all too common to get involved in the disputes of others. Learn from the plight of those great scholars and judges who were swayed by Korach and lost all because of it.


from the July 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine




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