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Torah Commentary
Korach (June 8, 2013)

Rabbi David M. Posner

THE SIDRAH KORACH tells of a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. A Levite named Korach leads a group of 250 prominent Israelites, claiming to speak in the name of democracy: “All the community are holy…Why then do you raise yourselves above the congregation?” Moses discerns that this claim is dishonest. God will choose between them, and in his plea to God, Moses makes a point about character: “I have not taken the donkey of any one of them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

Here’s a story: Once upon a time, there lived in Lublin one of the greatest of the Chasidic masters — not himself a rabbi but so beloved by the people that he was called the Chozeh — the visionary — of Lublin. His name was Yaakov Yitzchak.

Now, in Lublin, there lived another great sage — a rabbi, a genuine scholar — who was bothered by the popularity of the visionary, and so he decided to go see Reb Yaakov Yitzchak and have it out with him.

“Why, rebbe,” he asked, “should so many thousands flock to you from all sides? And what can they see in you? And why don’t they come to me? Am I not a greater scholar than yourself?”

The Chozeh thought about it and said, “To tell you the truth, I am quite as amazed as you. I know my true worth. Who am I and what am I, that people should come to me in search of ways to approach their Maker? And why, in fact, should they not go to visit you — whom I know to be a scholar of unquestioned repute — a veritable Mount Sinai in the knowledge of the Torah?”

And then the Chozeh thought a little more, and he said, “But perhaps here lies the catch. Because I am surprised that people come to me — THAT is why they come to me. And because YOU are surprised that they do not come to you — that is why, dear rabbi, they do not come.”

A lesson for us all.

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