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DVAR TORAH
 

 
This week we will read about Korach's insurrection in the Sinai Desert. In a dramatic moment, Korach challenges Moshe's authority and exclaims, "For the entire nation is holy, and the L-rd is in their midst; why, then, do you raise yourselves above the congregation of Israel?" With this statement,  Korach attempts to undermine Moshe's sovereignty and lead a rebellion against the mantle of Moshe's leadership. In the face of this accusation, the Torah tells us that Moshe's initial response to Korach's charges is one of helplessness. "Moshe heard and fell on his face." As Rashi notes, Moshe here felt no longer capable of petitioning the Almighty to pardon Bnei Yisrael's sin.

While this reaction seems warranted, it is puzzling that Moshe felt this way. He successfully interceded on behalf of Bnei Yisroel after the golden calf, the incident of the spies, and the sin involving the people's complaints - but here he felt helpless. Why? Perhaps we can understand Moshe's reaction if we understand the nature of Korach's complaint.
 
The first verse in Parshat Korach tells us that "vayikach Korach," and Korach took. The verb "took," which the Parsha's opening verse attributes to Korach, has puzzled commentators throughout the ages. By definition, the word "took" requires a direct object. A person cannot "take" nothing; if Korach and his followers "took," they must have "taken" something. What did they take? Rashi explains that the unwritten object that Korach took was Korach himself. We must read the verse as "Korach took himself," meaning he took himself out of the Israelite community in order to instigate an insurrection. Perhaps this can explain Moshe's reaction of despair. 
 
The sin of Korach was the sin of misguided leadership. Korach chose to lead a revolt - not for the good of the people, but for his own self-promotion and ego. To this sin, Moshe felt he had no response. This was a sin indicative of a failure in Jewish leadership, a sin that Moshe could only meet with despair. Despair - because Korach did not understand that the mantle of Jewish leadership could not be worn with self-interest in mind; it must be worn with the interest of others in mind. The Jewish leader has his focus on the good of the community and does not worry about titles, glory, and power.
 
This is a lesson that we teach and live every day at Hillel Academy. We push our students to wear the crown of Jewish leadership. We encourage them to grow every day and to push themselves beyond their limits - not for their own personal glory, but to help others - and to make Am Yisroel and the world at large a better place.
 
Have a great summer and Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Weinberg, Principal



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At Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, we educate young men and women with unlimited capacity who compete in a superior manner in all challenges undertaken. Our students are Torah observant models of exemplary character, who love G-d, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel. To say that our students possess a love of learning, confidence and the ability to think critically, merely highlights the value of a Hillel education. What we ultimately achieve each day, and have been achieving for 70 years, is the gift of instilling each student with the foundation for a life spent actively serving and leading the Jewish community and society.


Micki Myers, Editor | Hillel Happenings | 412 521-8131 | hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org |www. hillelpgh.org