Shabbat-Table Talks: Qorah
By: Rabbi Ralph Tawil <email@example.com>
Value: Overcoming envy by appreciating what you have. It is a reality. Some people will have things better than we do. We can always find someone who has a fancier car, house, CD, etc. than we have. Others might be gifted in other ways, intelligence, talent, beauty, for example. Some might react to this reality by having feeling of envy. Teaching our children ways of overcoming these feelings of envy can help them cope with this sometimes-disturbing reality. The step beyond overcoming one’s envy is to be happy for the other person’s achievement or possession.
Bne Yisrael were just informed that they would not be going into the Promised
Land immediately. This caused a lot of bitterness and a leadership crisis. Qorah
was jealous of the fact that he was not given a leadership position in the tribe
of Levi. According to Hazal (our sages of blessed memory), it was the fact that
Qorah was passed up for the position of tribal leadership in favor of his cousin
of lesser status. Qorah rallied the people behind him, not by saying that he
deserves the power, but by using the demagogic argument of saying that there
should be no leaders (“Indeed, the entire community, the entirety of them, are
holy, and in their midst is the Lord. Why then do you exalt yourselves over the
assembly of the Lord?”) Qorah’s argument was a thinly veiled attempt to get
some more power for himself. Moshe first proposes a contest of the incense
offering to allow Hashem to choose between Aharon and Qorah’s group. Then
Moshe tries to dissuade the rebels from taking part in the fatal contest. Moshe
Moshe said to Qorah: Pray hearken, Sons of Levi: Is it too little for you that
the God of Israel has separated you from the community of Israel to bring you
near to him, to serve the serving tasks of the dwelling of Hashem, to stand
before the community, to attend on them? He has brought near you and all your brothers, the Sons of
Levi, with you—would you seek the priesthood as well?
Moshe was certain that Hashem had chosen Aharon and was not afraid to put that
to the test. Yet, he knew that the contest would result in the deaths of the
rebels. So Moshe tried to dissuade the people from taking part in the
incense-offering contest. In his argument Moshe saw through Qorah’s
demagoguery and exposed Qorah’s true intention—that of Kohen leadership.
Qorah should be happy with the status of being a Levite—one who has special
service in the Mishkan. One should
not look at what he lacks and become envious. Instead, one should look at what
he has and be satisfied.
How did Moshe try to stop Qorah’s jealousy? (By making Qorah aware of what he
has.) How does focusing on what you
have stop jealousy? (By realizing that you already have much you can ignore what
you lack. Realizing that you have plenty diverts attention from what you do not
have, to what you do, leading to a greater degree of appreciation and
children: Did it ever happen to you that someone had something that you wanted?
Describe what happened and most importantly how you felt. (Let more than one
child talk at this point. You can also give an example of when you felt like
How do you
feel when a friend has something that you really would like? (Use an example
here that would be appropriate for your children’s age.)
How can you
follow Moshe’s advice to Qorah and learn to appreciate what you have? (First,
become aware of what you have. Make a mental list of the things you have. Start
from the five senses and the other aspects to the body and recognize what a gift
it is from Hashem to have the function of all your organs. Then what a blessing
it is just to be able to speak and think. Think about the people in your life.
The other things, the things that your child feels he is lacking, truly
pale in comparison with these fundamentally important senses.)
objections that your child might raise to this approach are:
“But my friend has these things as well!” Answer: Barukh Hashem. We
are not trying to compete against each other in who has the best things. We are
trying to appreciate the gifts that we have.
“My friend flaunts his special object and makes me feel inferior for
not having it.” Answer: by getting upset at it you are just inviting more of
your friend’s behavior. Instead try to be happy that he has the thing and show
him that. Listen to this story:
thousand fans were in attendance in the Oakland stadium when Rickey Henderson
tied Lou Brock’s career stolen base record. According to USA Today, Lou left
baseball in 1979 but faithfully followed Henderson’s prestigious career and
was excited about his success. Realizing that Rickey would set a new record,
Brock was quoted in USA Today as saying, “I’ll be there. Do you think I’m
going to miss it now? Rickey did in 12 years what took me 19. He’s amazing.”
Brock was able to set aside feelings of jealousy, envy or self-interest in order
to enourage Henderson’s achievement. He rejoiced in the happiness of others.
(Source: Glenn Van Ekeren, _Speaker’s Sourcebook II_, p. 126)
each person to feel happy about and to compliment another person at the table
for something unique that she has. Focus the group on enjoying the others
achievement or special possession.
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