I wish everyone a happy Father’s Day, coming up this Sunday. As we will touch on Moses this week, we remember that he is the father of the Jewish nation, appointed by G-d to be the guide and liberator to establish order and goodness. This week’s parshat is about Korach, a highly respected leader in his own right and a first cousin of Moshe and Aaron. He is jealous of Moshe and Aaron’s power and leadership positions. Korach is driven by his jealousy to organize about 250 members of the tribe against Moses. It is too bad that Korach and his followers didn’t read Covet Bailey’s, New York Times best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families.
A rebellion ensues against G-d’s appointed leaders. G-d, very displeased, then proceeds to punish them—the earth opens up and they are swallowed—snuffed out for eternity.
Moses and Aaron were completely symbiotic—in other words, they got along, respected each other’s G-d’s appointed roles and worked harmoniously and humbly for the benefit of their people. They represent ideal team players. They were faithful to each other and never coveted each other’s role. Look at how much good and accomplishment for the nation of Israel was birthed out of their harmonious efforts, versus the disaster that resulted from Korach’s rebellion.
In today’s headlines, we read about President Bush considering political departmental realignment and getting all the different departments of the government to work together in harmony towards one purpose: efficiency in the fight against terrorism. While on the other spectrum, Yassir Arafat is also uprooting some of his closest advisors and "eliminating" them for his own purposes. Shifts in alliances can happen either for good ends or evil purposes.
G-d speaks about his pleasure in unity among men in Psalm 133, Hinay ma tov um ma nay in, or "How G-dly it is when brothers dwell together in peace and unity." The psalm goes on to say that this unity, which pleases G-d, brings great blessings. Conversely, we see how destructive family conflicts can be in this case in the Torah, with Korach’s rebellion against G-d’s plan and will.
Through this example, we are led to the following conclusion: that each person is created like no other. No fingerprint of any human is the same. Every person is special and gifted. Just like each painting in an art museum is a piece with unique aesthetic value, like impressionists, modernists, renaissance, romantic painters—each style is different, yet beautiful and brings enjoyment to many people.
The Torah tells us to be happy with our lot, to be content in the role and gifting assigned to us during this life. In the ten commandments we are instructed not to covet—this means not comparing ourselves to other people, or trying to always be someone else, or have what someone else has—as in "keeping up with the Joneses’", a syndrome that takes many individuals away from G-d’s will.
Pirket Avot also tells us to be satisfied with our lot. Even contemporary psychologists preach the value of being content and living in harmony. Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a famous radio talk show host and psychologist, speaks constantly about balancing and fostering healthy family dynamics and working on excellent interpersonal communication.
I am encouraged that the events of the last year have brought many back to our traditional values and to seek the will of G-d as stated in the Torah. May we all continue to seek harmony in our lives and live in unity within our synagogue, our families, our work associates and those that we are in contact with every day.
If we learn by the mistakes of Korach not to follow the evils of jealousy and discontentment—attitudes that lead to rebellion-- we can have a better future for our generation and future descendants. On Father’s Day, we should continue to be grateful for our families and to show the proper respect to our fathers, the family figurehead, and to honor their unique G-d given position within each family unit. Only then can we create a more peaceful life that will benefit our families, our people and society as a whole.