by Jeff Rockland - June 20, 2015
This is my third time writing a drash for Temple. Each time has allowed me, as a proud father, the opportunity to indulge in finding a connection between Torah and my child. In re-reading the instructions provided by Temple concerning preparing this drash, I am perplexed by the sharp contrast to the story of Korach. Korach is all about who is in charge and what happens when you step out of line. Allowing an ordinary Temple member to interpret what is arguably our holiest of books is a great leap of faith and a striking example of an egalitarian community spirit. This is something that makes our drash special and perhaps even a little unusual.
One could read this portion and be taken aback. Why would God have people swallowed up by the earth and burnt up simply because they were trying to negotiate a larger slice of the pie? As the proud father of Maliwan, soon to be a Bat Mitzvah, I see this differently. Life is not only about being right. There are situations where we must learn to compromise. As Kenny Rogers said, “You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run.”
Does Korach tell us of the importance of a specific order, or does it challenge us to become aware of the existence of a higher power that dictates this order? As my personal religious space is in the forest much more than the Temple, I choose to interpret this passage as a message to be aware of the elements of structure and balance that organize our world. If one chooses to be in harmony with nature and him/herself, then one can weather times when leadership appears to be from the top down, trusting in the balance of nature. Will this stop one from being swallowed up by the earth? No guarantees.