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My son’s bar mitzvah parsha is Korach, which at first glance is a pretty difficult story to, er, swallow. This was no ordinary earthquake – the Mishna in Avot teaches that the “mouth” of the earth which opened for Korach and his followers was one of the ten things created on the first erev Shabbat.

Despite the brazenness of Korach’s rebellion (a machti et harabim event if there ever was one), we might still be shocked by its horrific fallout. What would our world be like if punishment followed wrongdoing with such immediacy – if bad things happened to bad people swiftly enough to leave no doubt of Divine justice in action? We might think such a system would disincentivize sin and thus uplift society.


Sadly, the Torah proves otherwise. From the Tower of Babel to the Golden Calf to the slander of the spies to the mass immorality-cum-Baal worship – all committed by those who had just recently witnessed G-d’s omnipotence – the social contagion of rebellion, abetted by the yetzer hara, all too easily drowns out the lessons of yesterday, no matter how earth-shatteringly supernatural.

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Ziona Greenwald, a contributing editor to The Jewish Press, is a freelance writer and editor and the author of two children's books, “Kalman's Big Questions” and “Tzippi Inside/Out.” She lives with her family in Jerusalem.