Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah – Korach
Torah teaches us that we are supposed to blot out the name of Amalek forever. The Amalekites were marauders who attacked the Biblical Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness. They fought unfairly, as they would raid the camps from the fringes, killing the weakest amongst the people and terrorize the rest. For their treachery, tradition commands us to blot their name from memory.
Our tradition teaches that the crown of a good name must perpetuate. The Talmud tells us that it is forbidden to name one’s child after a wicked person, in keeping with the rule, “The memory of the righteous should be to blessing, and the name of the wicked should rot” (Proverbs 10:7). At the end of our days, the name we leave is the most lasting gift or damnation. We always to choose to name our children after the people we most revere.
Throughout the ages, sages ridicule Korach about whom we read this week. He was a Levite, promised the priesthood as part of the people, and watched as Moses and Aaron took exclusive power of communing with God unto themselves. The ridicule is not uniform in nature, and many sages believe he was right in his concerns.
We can see where the majority of our tradition stands on the matter simply in the name of the portion: “KORACH.” If we blot out evil names and perpetuate good names, then we must understand that the name “Korach” is unique, as we retell the story of his rebellion every year. How is it that we remember, with blessing, the name of someone who caused such destruction?
If we remember that his rebellion rooted in a yearning for the highest ideals: not to be held back from God, tradition teaches us that we can condemn the method, but must celebrate the spirit. He may have gone about his quest in the wrong ways. It may be that tradition can justify the unique relationship between God, Moses, and Aaron. The goal Korach sought may not have been attainable. We teach our children to always reach for the stars. Always strive to be what you imagine can be possible, not just what society currently allows. The greatest heroes in history are those who reached beyond the ceilings that inhibited growth and progress and changed the world. In this respect – Korach is a hero. Now, let’s use his legacy to reach beyond, but remember to do it in the best of ways.