Ever since Purim, I have been waiting for the chance to write about this subject again. At that time, I wrote about an unpleasant personal dispute where the other side took initiative and came to our door with mishloach manot. Immediately the tension between us disappeared; the fight was over.
Following that post, I received many messages from people who decided to bring mishloach manot to the door of friends who had become adversaries. It worked. I am attaching pictures of two examples of such reconciliation that were sent to me, cases where long-term controversy ended when someone decided to rectify the situation.
Perhaps this week we could work this magic again. In the Korach Torah portion that we will read on Shabbat, a tragic rebellion is described: Out of jealousy and the pursuit of honor, Korach and his company challenge the authority of Moshe and Aharon, whereupon Moshe desperately tries to make peace with the rebels. What is the message for us? The Torah tells us: “Don’t be like Korach and his company.”
It would seem that this is an appropriate week to distance ourselves from Korach’s path and put an end to all lingering controversy and strife.
May we all achieve success in this endeavor.
Envy Less, Live Longer
Envy. It’s the root of the tragic controversy that we just read on Shabbat. On the surface, it would seem that Korach had ideological reasons to oppose Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen. Yet, in truth, Korach was simply jealous of their leadership positions. Korach was blessed with enormous wealth, a family, and served an important role in the Mishkan service. However, all this was not enough for him.
Therefore, the punishment that Korach and his followers received was highly symbolic. The earth opened and they were swallowed up, since envy does not take a person anywhere but rather buries him alive where he stands; he disappears and is erased.
Rabbi Elazar summed up the danger of envy and two associated character traits as follows: “Envy, lust, and (the pursuit of) honor remove a person from the world.” (Pirkei Avot, 4:28)
In other words, envy is not just a bad quality or just another problem. It takes a person out of this world.
So, what’s the solution? To take to heart Ben Zoma’s response to his own question. “Who is rich?” he asks, and immediately answers: “The one who rejoices in his lot.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)
The truly rich individual is grateful for what he has – all the good things he has been given – and he does not envy what others have. This is a lifetime mission, especially in an era of social media. If envy removes us from this world, a joyful and grateful attitude imparts more life within it.
How Are Things At Home?
It’s difficult when our spouse is not satisfied with us, and the wife of Korach was not satisfied with him. The Torah portion we will read in the synagogue on Shabbat describes Korach’s famous challenge to the leadership of Moshe and Aharon. But what was at the bottom of Korach’s rebellion in the first place?
Our sages explain that Korach’s wife would nag at him day and night, berating him: Why are the positions of Moshe and Aharon higher than yours? Why are you not like them? What about your honor and reputation? This verbal poison slowly seeped into Korach with tragic effect.
Our lives are full of challenges and our experiences within the home determine how we confront them. The briefest interactions and conversations with our immediate family members – between the kitchen and the living room – can have an enormous impact upon us and our general attitude toward life. If negativity and criticism hold sway, these domestic contacts can create rancor, belligerence, and jealousy, but if the prevailing mood in the home is positive and encouraging, the family will be full of faith, acceptance, and joy.
Our commentators suggest that we check the attitude of those closest to us to determine where they are leading us, just as we must examine our own attitude to evaluate our effect on them.
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin