Parshat Korach: Numbers 16:1-18:32; I Samuel 11:14-12:22.

This week’s Torah portion is named for a man who was known to be the wealthiest Jew of his time. Being a Levite, he also occupied a position of spiritual prominence within the Jewish community. Yet he was not satisfied with that. We read of how he convinced many of his Jewish brethren to challenge the leadership of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron.

“The entire community is holy, and God is among them,” Korach complains, “so why do Moses and Aaron feel they can exalt themselves over the congregation of God?”

Rabbi Bentzion Geisinsky
Rabbi Bentzion Geisinsky

Doesn’t that sound honorable? After all, all Jews have a spark of God within them. How then can distinctions be drawn between Jews? Let us all stand as one without separation or distinction.

In truth, though, Korach was far from being a “man of the people.” He was simply resentful that Aaron, and not he, was granted the high priesthood.

In response to Korach, Moses says: “It is too much for you, offspring of Levi.”

What was Moses telling Korach? He was saying “Why can’t you recognize the beauty and uniqueness of the gifts you do have? As a Levite, you are a keeper of the sanctuary. You are a respected dignitary. You have so much going for you. How could you possibly be discontent? Why must you seek the priesthood when God clearly gave that to somebody else?

The Mishnah teaches that the reason God created man as a single unit rather than as an entire species (as He did with the animal kingdom) is to show us that one man equals an entire world. Every person has their unique contribution. We all have a mission to enhance and perfect our world — the circumstances God placed us in.

It’s useless to fantasize, “If only I was born into a different environment.” When one lives with a sense of divine purpose, one accepts that whatever comes their way is orchestrated by God. It’s within these conditions that we are called upon to serve our Creator and fulfill our very distinctive mission and purpose.

“Who is rich?” say the sages. “He who is happy with his lot.”

The Chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Zushe of Anipoli, once said, “If I were offered a deal to trade places with Abraham, so that he would be Zushe and I would be Abraham, I would not take it. For although I would benefit by being Abraham, what gain would there be for God? He would still have one Abraham and one Zushe.”

It’s not about us; it’s about what role we play in God’s master plan. 

Rabbi Bentzion Geisinsky lives in Bloomfield Hills, where he co-directs Chabad of Bingham Farms with his wife Moussia.

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