Haftarah: 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22
Throughout the book of Numbers the children of Israel keep rebelling against G-d. Why did the people continue in this way even after HaShem showed over and over His faithfulness? The answer is simple, because humanity has a rebellious tendency. This tendency is not limited to a particular race or ethnicity, it does not matter if you are male or female, rich or poor; man is rebellious. In this week’s Torah portion, a man by the name of Korach, along with 250 leaders of Israel, rebel against G-d. What is important to understand is that although this rebellion is first and foremost against G-d, it manifests itself against Moses. Korach and his followers charge Moses with exalting himself above others and taking a position of leadership for which he is not entitled.
These are of course serious charges and obviously untrue. One does not have to be in such a high position to have others level charges and attack one’s character. Sadly people rebel against others all the time. There is nothing one can do to stop this from taking place. The focus of this blog is how should one respond? If you are expecting a detailed blue print of what to do, then you will be highly disappointed. Each attack of rebellion probably will require a different response. What I want to focus upon is how one learns what the particular response is.
When Moses heard the charges against him what did he do?
“Moses heard and fell on his face.” Numbers 16:4
What is this verse speaking about? The verse is admonishing one to seek G-d’s face by means of prayer. Sometimes it sounds so superficial to tell someone who is going through a difficult time in his life, “just pray about it and everything will be okay”. This is not what this verse is revealing. When Moses fell upon his face the first thing that this demonstrates is humility. It is a natural instinct when attacked to feel as though one must defend himself. By responding in this way you become the focus rather than G-d. Moses falling upon his face was his way of acknowledging two important truths. The first is that it is not about the man, but it is always about HaShem. Moses realized that this attack was first and foremost an offense to G-d, because the people were demonstrating that they did not want to follow the plan and direction of G-d. Second, one does not have to defend himself. So often in trying to justify one’s actions it takes him away from the task at hand. When Moses prayed to HaShem, he was not seeking justification before the congregation but wanted to bring HaShem into the situation.
This is at the very heart of the proper response when confronted by others. Moses did not argue with them, nor did he say things derogatory about his critics. He simply sought G-d and wanted Him to enter into the situation. In verse five Moses does in fact respond to Korach. This response is only offered after Moses had fallen upon his face and received HaShem’s counsel to the matter at hand. Many scholars have pointed out that in this response the people have to wait until the following morning. Why the delay? Why not set things in order immediately? I agree with those who offer up the explanation that by delaying things until the next day it gave Korach and his followers time to repent. Unfortunately they were unwilling.
As I was writing this blog it occurred to me that we often see ourselves as the ones who are always attacked unjustly, when in fact we might just be the ones in rebellion and doing the attacking. I for one am going to pause and consider my words to others more carefully, because my natural tendency is to be a Korach and not a Moses.
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