Shabbat Shalom and welcome to my favorite Torah portion. Parashat Korah is juicy and full of interesting points of view to consider. There’s betrayal and coup d’état and the earth swallowing people whole! But I don’t want to talk about any of that tonight. I want to focus on one-line Korah utters when he is threatening insurrection against Moses. He says, “The entire congregation of Israel is holy, and HaShem is in their midst.”
The Midrash Tanhuma comments on that line, “Not only you heard at Sinai, ‘I am the Lord, your God’ - the entire congregation heard it. All of them heard [the] words [of the commandments] at Sinai from the mouth of the Almighty.” When we say that all the people of Israel heard the word of God at Sinai, even though that part of the Torah tells us the people were terrified at witnessing God and sent Moses up to finish the conversation on their behalf, is that as Jews we believe in the complete equality of all our people. When we say at Passover time that this “whole congregation of Israel” includes all Jews, past, present, and future, those who believe themselves to be descended from the 12 tribes and those who know they joined the congregation along the way, we’re reinforcing Korah’s judgement that no one should elevate themselves above anyone else. The entire congregation is holy, and HaShem is in our midst most when we recognize one another’s holiness.
Tonight, we at Ner Shalom welcomed in a new member of our holy congregation and God’s presence was a little nearer, felt a little fuller in our midst as our community grew. When we are open and welcoming, when we embrace one another fully, we let in the presence of God as well and increase the holiness among us. May you find the holiness in each person you greet, for the entire community is holy, and HaShem is with everyone.