Korach: The Power Struggle
There's no one in all of Jewish history who ever became closer to Hashem because someone threw a rock at him; the paths to Torah are peaceful...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
Did you ever notice that people describe a power struggle as a “tug of war”? Unsurprisingly, you'll never hear the term “tug of peace”, for when pulling are trying to forcibly pull things in their direction, they're not looking for peace. Indeed, they're looking for their own vested interests.
Korach was a master demagogue. He did everything in his power to turn the hearts of the Jewish People against Moses, the true tzaddik, by saying that Moses usurped power for himself and his brother Aaron for their own personal gain. Does that claim stand even a superficial test of truth? By no means, no. As opposed to Korach who campaigned from tent to tent in the Israelite encampment claiming that he should be the leader of the Jewish People, we learn in Parshat Shmot that Moses spent an entire week on Mount Sinai trying to convince Hashem that he, Moses, shouldn't be the leader of the Jewish People. Korach engaged in power struggles; Moses did not.
Hashem can't stand power struggles, yet loves peace so much that He made it one of His Names. For that reason, a person may not say “Shalom” in the mikva or in any other place where people are unclad. What's so special about peace?
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev explains that when two people are in peace with each other, they readily share and learn from one another. Since they love one another rather than compete with each other, they are happy to see each other make personal and spiritual gain, thereby getting closer to Hashem. Since getting closer to Hashem is out tachlis, our very purpose for being on earth, then we can't fulfill our mission on earth without having peace, for each of us has a solemn duty not only to get closer to Hashem but to help others get closer to Hashem as well. My esteemed and beloved rabbi and teacher Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a says that the only reason Hashem is delaying the coming of Moshiach is to enable us to bring more people closer to emuna, to faith in Hashem. No one in all of Jewish history has ever succeeded in bringing anyone closer to Hashem by throwing a rock at him.
With the above in mind, all the zealots and the rock-throwers within our midst are not accomplishing what they profess to accomplish, yet quite the contrary. Any dissension and power struggles only derail the train to redemption and destroy unity.
Unity is true power, for with unity, we can easily spread spiritual awareness and emuna. Who doesn't want to enjoy a lovely Shabbat meal or a nap on Shabbat afternoon? Who doesn't want the true love and dedication of a Torah-based marriage? Who doesn't want the joy of spilling one's heart out to a Father in Heaven who really listens and cares? Millions of people are walking around disenfranchised from their heritage and their basic rights. Outreach – true outreach – is merely the attempt to give people what is rightfully theirs, and not an attempt to force any agenda on others, where the outreach activist has any other ulterior motive other than helping an individual establish his or her own personal relationship with Hashem. Outreach inasmuch requires two vital components – love and peace. Without them, outreach turns into a grab for power, where the so-called outreach activist is simply trying to bring others under his sphere of influence. Thus, the difference between Moses and Korach is the exact same difference between true emuna outreach and a vie for power and influence. Whereas the former is totally for Hashem's sake, the latter is the product of self-serving motives, like an unkosher salami in a kosher wrapping.
As opposed to our genuine spiritual leaders of whose entire focus is bringing our people closer to Hashem, the power-strugglers who vie for power and influence only spread dissension and destroy unity. Hashem doesn't like that at all. As in the case of Moses, the true tzaddik despises rabbinical posts and material gifts, but if he is put in a position of spiritual authority, he devotes all of his energies to being a selfless and worthy servant of the public and not a tyrant over the public. As opposed to the power-strugglers who seek money and influence, the true tzaddik cares about one thing only - bringing people closer to Hashem. This is his greatest joy and the only reward he ever cares about. May all of us follow the path of peace and love and may our outreach efforts bring unity and brotherhood among us as well as the whole world close to Hashem, speedily, amen!
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.