Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Daniel Goldblum on Korah

Thank you for coming to my bar mitzvah. We have just read Parsha Korah. Korah is a pretty dramatic and violent parsha. It is about a man named Korah, who was the grandson of Levi, the son of Yacov. Korah was upset when Moshe placed Aharon as the Cohen Gadol, serving the highest position in the Mishcan, or tabernacle. The tabernacle held the lochot, or tablets. Korah was mad because he felt as a Levi, or Levite he should be in charge of the Mishcan. He was so mad that he created a rebellion against Moshe. He had 250 men on his side of the rebellion.
The way he went about the rebellion was to badmouth Moshe, and make him look foolish and corrupt in front of bene yisroel. He also used his words to convince Bene Yisrael to go against Moshe. As an example of using his words, he said, “Why have you made yourself and Aharon holier than the rest of us. We are all holy”. 
The Midrash tells us that Korah was power hungry and that he didn’t actually care about the people’s holiness, but only cared about his own power and glory.
In response Moshe asks Korah, “Is it not enough for you that G-d has given you access to perform special duty in the tabernacle, yet you seek the priesthood too?” Moshe tells Korah that Hashem would decide who would be in charge of the tabernacle. He tells Korah and Aharon that they can each offer fire and incense and G-d will choose who will be the high priest. Moshe gave a warning to Korah’s followers that there would be a price to pay if they didn’t separate themselves for Korah. The next day when Korah offered fire and incense, the earth swallowed him, and the fire of Hashem incinerated his followers. I told you this was violent, I would give it at least PG-13.  One could ask was the punishment to harsh? That’s not exactly what I planned on talking about today, but I’m open at Kiddush for debate.  

There are 2 subjects I did want to talk about today. First I want to talk about jealousy of others. Korah was jealous of Moshe’s leadership. Even though Korah had special responsibilities in the Mishcan, he wasn’t going to be happy unless he was the number one guy. It is very easy to look and see what other people have, and be envious rather than to be happy with what you have.

I’m sure we’ve all been jealous of a friend who has something we don’t. This Parsha tells us that jealousy is one of the worst character traits that someone can have, and therefore people should try to resist being jealous.  Although I have been envious of others for example, friends who have video games I don’t have, or if someone else gets picked for a prize or role that I wanted, (or if they have a dog-- ahem Dad). But then I remember how lucky I am to have a great home, a wonderful family, all four healthy, happy grandparents, lots of friends, my guitar, all my belongings, and many other things that I have to be grateful for. I still would like the puppy though. 

The other thing I want to talk about is rebelling against authority.  When Korah is rebelling against Moshe, he is rebelling against Hashem’s judgment.  Now as kids my age are starting to become adults we are starting to question authority.  I mean why should parents be in charge when they can’t even use half the apps on their own phones?

This parsha teaches us the importance of respecting authority. Moshe was like a parent to Bene Yisrael. He brought them Hashem’s messages and gave them advice and watched over them –just like our parents teach us, give us advice and watch over us.  This is not to say that there is never a time that it is ok to challenge authority but you need to think through your actions and your words especially when the authority is your parent or someone like a parent, the way Moshe was to Bene Israel. You need to show special respect even if you want to be in charge yourself. From Korah we learn both the importance of appreciating what you have, and respecting authority.

In honor of my bar mitzvah I did two mitzvah projects. When I was younger, we would sometimes visit senior residents and sing songs in their Shabbat Service. This year, I was in then show Suessical at BCDS, I thought it would be nice to share a couple of songs with the senior citizens, at the Stamford Attria to show respect, and entertain them. Thank Mr. Cahr and my cast members who helped me.

My other mitzvah project was washing cars to raise money for the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL tries to reduce anti-Semitism, to stop the bad talk about Israel, and to fight bullying and all prejudice. Korah would be one of the ADL’s biggest targets. We raised $424 for the ADL. I’d like to thank all my friends who dragged their parents and helping to wash their parent’s cars, and a special shout out to Dayne Kats, and Matthew Greenbaum, and Evan, my little brother for all their help.

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