The best known rebellion in the Torah is retold in this week’s Parasha. We even name the Parasha after Moshe’s chief antagonist Korach. Pretty nice reward for someone who dared to challenge Moshe and God, huh? Perhaps the name of the Parasha is less important than some think.
Another irony is that God orders Moshe to turn the 250 firepans on which the rebels performed their acid test of leadership into a special covering for the Altar itself. (Bamidbar 17:1-5) What?!? How could the tools of these wicked, despicable people be used for the Altar? Shouldn’t the firepans have been buried or destroyed? Perhaps, if we assume that Korach was all evil or that his followers were also. God doesn’t.
We learn that God sees each of us as very complex individuals. Yes, Korach was jealous and power hungry, but his followers may have been striving for greater holiness and a role in the divine service and God saw that spark of holy desire. It was Moses who ordered the incense test that the 250 brought. It was a peaceful test, not a violent coup d’ etat. There was holiness in the firepans and an honest belief that they were deserving of the honor of service as well.
God looks for the good in each of us and so must we all.
Each of us has a holiness as well as the contrary. God asks us to find the holy and sacred in everyone and everything and to harness it for good purposes.
P.S. Of course the ultimate test that determined leadership related to the staffs of the chieftains, only one of which (Aharon’s) produced sprouts, blossoms and almonds. You know what that proves, don’t you?
P.P.S. Our teachers have taken a break from our Shabbat Torah Study which will resume August 5 (Va’etchanan / Shabbat Nachamu) when we will learn with Rabbi Joey Krakoff.