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Perashat Korah

Home > Rabbi's Weekly Message > Perashat Korah

Perashat Korah

Friday, June 19, 2015 Author: Rabbi Elie Abadie

Rabbi Yosef Hayim A”H. the head of the Babylonian Jewish community, over 100 years ago, writes, that there are three ways a person can assume a position of leadership. The first is by inheritance. If he is the next in line in a ruling family dynasty, he habitually becomes the next leader. This is usually the way kings and monarch assume the throne. The second is by promises to the populace, during a campaign, of favors and gifts after he is elected. This is usually seen in our modern era, with candidates for President and/or Prime Minister.  People look forward to these gifts, favors and influence, as they elect their leader.

The third way is when a person usurps the leadership role usually by a revolution, a coup d’état and imposes himself over the population by ruling with fear and terror. Throughout history and in our time, we have had plenty of dictators and tyrants that are examples of this type of rule. Usually, the population has no say in the matter even when they are unhappy about the situation, for fear of repercussion and death.

In this week’s Perashat Korah, we learn the difference between a selfless leader and a selfish one. A selfless leader is the one that either finds himself in that position or was chosen for it even at times against his own inclination. He is the leader that cares about his people and fights for them, he represents their interest and he puts the interest of the people before his. On the other hand, a selfish leader is the one who seeks the position, motivated by self interest, which cares about his own welfare and benefits, who fights for himself before the interest of the people and who ultimately betrays his people for his own self aggrandizement.  The example of the first type was Moshe, of the second was Korah who had self-serving interests and was motivated by greed and jealousy.  Korah complaints against Moshe and Aharon, upset that they were chosen to lead Bene Yisrael. He gathers 250 people to join him in rebelling against the leadership of Moshe and Aharon. His interests did not lie within the 250 people’s interest; his interest was his only desire to rule. Of course, G-d Himself thwarted his plans and desires as the earth opened up and swallowed up all those that rebelled.  

How similar is the world in which we live in. We have selfless leaders who see that their people flourish and succeed in life and then we have selfish leaders who usurp the power, abuse their citizens, violate their human rights, have no respect for human life, and place their own self interest above the welfare of their people and citizens. They unfortunately, make the majority of world leaders today and as such they create an environment where power and greed is respected, criminality and violence is justified and justice and truth is overlooked. The minority of selfless leaders and righteous people are sidestepped, ignored and out rightly, unjustly accused of the crimes of the selfish leaders; and the world turns a blind eye. 

We are not privy to the outright revelation and miracles of Hashem.  It is our responsibility to navigate through life in the direction of Hashem, with truth, justice and respect for human life.

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