When Korach foments a rebellion as recounted in this week’s Parasha, Moses does something most curious. Moses prays to God to ignore Korach’s prayers (Bamidbar 16:15). Did Moses really need to ask God to ignore the prayers of the avaricious, envious and arrogant Korach? Was there any chance God would listen to and honor Korach’s prayers in the first place?
Interestingly, our Sages tell us that even the prayers of the most wicked and selfish individuals can be granted if they are sincere and heartfelt. Some may find this troubling. Some may find it mystifying.
Such is the power of sincere prayer that we believe that it can alter destiny and affect free will. We learn on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we can alter a severe decree through Teshuvah, Tefilah (prayer) and Tzedaka. Do you think that we are only surrounded by the righteous on Yom Kippur?
Could it be that God wants to be accessible to all and at all times so that God’s powers of mercy can be tapped?
Maybe it is magical thinking, but we do not want others praying against us if we have a choice. Indeed, one of the private prayers at the end of the Amidah specifically asks God to nullify and frustrate the evil designs that others may have against us. Isn’t that just what Moses prayed as it related to Korach?
May each of us be exempt from any negative prayers that anyone has against any of us. May the Holy One grant our prayers for that which is good in God’s sight.
This Shabbat we learn with Rabbi Joey Krakoff. He will speak about Korach’s rebellion and offer different motivations/approaches for exactly what might have been going through the heads of Korach, Moses and Aaron. I have never left one of his study sessions without learning something new and powerful. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.