After the unfortunate incident with the spies, the Children of Israel are now destined to wander the desert for 40 years. A generation will be lost, never to achieve their destiny of walking on the holy ground of the Land of Israel. The Jewish People had to learn a valuable lesson for lacking faith in themselves and in God. Therefore this extreme punishment was meant to help them repent for their actions.
Now their journey continues as they accumulate more laws and increase their understanding of their role in our rich history.
Korach who sought to overthrow, or at least contend the leadership of Moshe and his brother Aaron. In an act of defiance, Korach gathered 250 senior members of the assembly and confronted Moshe and Aaron. They claimed that s distinguished men they should be able to make offerings to Hashem themselves thus sharing the responsibility, rather than it just falling to Aaron and the Priests. Hashem made his sentiments known, and the ground swallowed up Korach and all those who joined him. This ended the brief mutiny in the desert, but it leaves a lasting impression.
In understanding the core of Korach’s complaint, we can gain an important insight into a facet of human behaviour.
Rooted in his protest was an overwhelming sign of jealousy. Korach was jealous of the stature and position Moshe had as leader, and also of the responsibility bestowed on the shoulders of Aaron. Deep rooted in arrogance, he was led to desire what was not rightfully his and to lust grandeur outside his own portion in the world.
The most common form of jealousy is to want or desire what another has. We look at the people around us and see the faster car, bigger TV, nicer house to list a few, these are obvious things that we are driven to want, especially when our friends have them.
The real challenge is not to follow these desires. We cannot control our feelings, thoughts come to us based on emotion and experience but it is near impossible to ‘not think’ something. Therefore, when I become jealous of what I don’t have, the test resting on me is – what do I do about it?
Korach failed his test. As we have said, with a burning passion he sought to covet what was not his, and what he could not have. By confronting the leadership chosen by God, he led himself down a path of unlimited envy, with the direst of consequences. Hashem punished him because there is no positive outcome in this character trait.
It can never be good to look over your shoulder at what others have. Our job is to focus on our own world, look to what we can achieve with the resources at our fingertips and make the most of what we have been given, and as it teaches us in Ethics of the Fathers internalise the notion ‘Who is a Rich man? One who appreciates his lot’!