Change Is Always Possible
This week's Dvar Torah was written by Rabbi Ed Farber , a longtime Adult Learning/Melton & More instructor. R abbi Farber serves as Rabbi Emeritus at Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus in North Dade. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Miami native. He has served his entire Rabbinic career in three Miami congregations.
There is one verse in this week’s Torah portion that is profound in meaning and it has only four words . In fact, it is so short that many readers or listeners just miss it. It’s one of those verses that a few minutes or hours later you suddenly say – “What did the Torah say there?"
Here’s the verse: “ Korach’s children, however, did not die .” (In Hebrew, it’s only 4 words).
Remember who Korach was! Here’s Sivan Rahav-Meir’s description:
“He had led an aggressive uprising against Moses, attracting many followers,
which was quashed when the earth opened up and swallowed them up alive.
Korach, his family, and followers all died in this tragic end to the rebellion.”
At least that’s what the Torah says in the previous parshah .
But this week we are told that his sons didn’t not die. Why?
Rashi tells us that at the last minute, as they were about to die, Korach’s children had a change of heart and “during the dispute, they contemplated repentance .” They realized what a terrible mistake their father had made and “decided to abandon the rebellion, saving their lives.”
This is an amazing message as we begin to think about the coming High Holy Days, which are all about Teshuvah / repentance and changing our paths for the better .
It means there is always the opportunity to rethink our path in life. We can always acknowledge our mistake and return to the right path.
We can do even more than that – we can repair mistakes and then reach for new heights. That’s what happened with the ‘sons of Korach’ .
Look in the book of Psalms and some of them we are told were composed by ‘ Bnai Korach ’ – the children of Korach! From the edge of disaster, they returned about became writers of great poetry that inspires the Jewish people and people worldwide to this very day.
This applies not just to individual but to families, communities and entire counties . A family, a community, an entire country can be at the edge of despair – at the edge of making terrible mistakes, and they can step back and return to a constructive path.
We all have a sense that our country right now is at a tipping point. We are reflecting on mistakes made in the past and current shortcomings . Some are doing it constructively while other are committing the kind of violence and lawlessness that they are supposedly protesting against!
We have had leaders who have taken us in the past down the wrong path, and those who have lifted us up and united us in fighting for the common good – in acknowledging mistakes but also in praising the and acknowledging the good and yes, even the great.
Every country, every family including our own have had Korach-like leaders and followers. But it doesn’t mean that ‘ Bnai Korach ’ – the ‘children of Korach’ can’t do better .
Acknowledging past and current mistakes or weaknesses doesn’t mean ignoring past and current strengths. Korach had no balance in his attack on Moses and Aaron. His goal was to destroy what was and replace it with himself as leader . It wasn’t to preserve the best and fix the problems.
As we watch what is happening in our country and our communities, let’s remember that we need to be ‘ B’nai Korach ’ the children of Korach, who understand that Korach’s solutions are not solutions at all – they are just bigger problems . And if we do, then what we create will have the powerful and uplifting impact on the future that the beautiful psalms written by ‘ Bnai Korach ’ have had on past generations.
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