Friday, June 7, 2013

Korach – Color Wars

*This week there's a lot happening in the world with protests and demonstrations that might make for a powerful d'var Torah with Korah. But tomorrow is our Hebrew school's last day and first ever color wars, so I wrote this. Enjoy!* 

            Shabbat Shalom! Who is ready for Color Wars today?! Yea! But first, a word from our sponsor, the Torah.
            This week’s Torah portion is Korach. I feel like I say about a lot of parts of the Torah, but this is one of my favorite parshiyot. In it, a man named Korach assembles some fellow disgruntled Israelites and stages a revolt against Moses. He accuses Moses and Aaron of being elitist, tells Moses he’s bogarting G-d, and demands to know why Moses gets to be the sole leader of the Israelites, where were the free and open democratic debates and elections?!
            Of course, because we know of the nature of Moses’s relationship with G-d, it’s easy to see Korach as foolish, arrogant, and power-hungry himself. For the most part, that’s how Jewish tradition has painted him. But he never demands to be made leader himself in Moses’s place. He just wants accountability. Not being present for all of Moses’s one-on-one talks with G-d, of course he doesn’t know how much accountability Moses is already facing. Maybe Korach really just wants transparency.
            I was always taught that it is good and important to question authority, but generally not okay to outright defy it. Jewish tradition generally holds to this. G-d welcomed debate from Abraham in the discussion over destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, but when G-d commands Moses to tell a rock to produce water and Moses does not have faith it will work that way and instead strikes the rock twice, then takes personal credit for the water, G-d is furious and this is the moment Moses loses his right to enter the holy land. We live in a democratic republic that allows for free speech and protests, but that doesn’t mean that we get to just ignore the laws we protest against.

            I hope as we move downstairs for Color Wars, you all show just a little of Korach’s initiative. We have adults as team leaders, but all of you kids that will actually be playing need to be fair and equal to each other. Some might be stronger Hebrew students, and others might be faster runners. Some might have excellent balance and some might be very strong. All your strengths will come in handy for different games. Let those who are stronger with a particular game take the lead then, but if it feels like one student is trying to keep control of the whole team throughout the Color War, then it is okay to step up and say, “Who named you Moses?!”Just remember, if you push too far past your own bounds, the ground will open you up and swallow you, as was the fate of Korach and his followers! Or, you know, your adult team leaders will have to pull you aside and ask you to calm down. Same thing, really. May you all have equal and fair fun today, and may the best team win! Amen and Shabbat Shalom! 

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