You are currently browsing the daily archive for June 19, 2011.

Index

  • Selected Events
  • A Thought from Rav Kook
  • On this week’s Torah portion: Korach.  Prophesy, Prayer, and Embarrassment?

Selected Events

Sunday, 17 Sivan
The Hasmonean fighters recaptured Migdal Tzur from the Greek enemy and proclaimed this day a holiday in 140 BCE (Talmud, Megilat Taanit).

Friday, 22 Sivan
In 1312, BCE, Miriam, the elder sister of Moses and Aaron, was afflicted with tzaraat (leprosy) after speaking negatively of Moses, and was quarantined outside of the camp for seven days–as related in Numbers 12

Saturday, 23 Sivan
Even after Haman was hanged on the 17th of Nissan of 357 BCE, his evil decree “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, from young to old, infants and women, in one day, the 13th day of the 12th month (Adar)” remained in force. Queen Esther pleaded with King Achashverosh to annul the decree, but Achashverosh insisted that “a writ that has been written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s seal, cannot be returned.” Instead, he suggested to Esther and Mordechai to “inscribe, regarding the Jews, as you please, and seal it with the king’s seal.” On the 23rd of Sivan, Mordechai drafted a royal decree giving the Jews the license to defend themselves and kill all who rise up against them to kill them, and dispatched it to all 127 provinces of Achashverosh’s empire. (Book of Esther, chapter 8)

A Thought from Rav Kook

The inner essence of faith is so greatly beyond the intellect, that one who is not truly intellectually free will find faith in opposition with their intelligence.

Prophesy, Prayer, and Embarrassment?

Background

In this weeks Torah portion, Korach and a 250 men gather to Moshe and Aharon and say:

It is enough for you!  The entire assembly is holy, and God is within them.  Why then do you place yourself as rulers over the community of God?!
Numbers 16:3

When Moses hears this, the Torah reports that he “fell on his face” and then answered this rebellion with a challenge: tomorrow, present the incense offering to God, and He will make known who is His choice for a leader.  The following day, Korach and his group are swallowed into the earth, and perish in a fire that came down from heaven (Num. 16:18).

As mentioned by a number of the classic commentators, it was clear to Moses based on Korach’s timing of his complaint (right after the decree issued in response to the spies that the Jewish people would now wonder in the desert for 40 years) that Korach really wanted the priesthood for himself, and did think it was appropriate that the priesthood was given to Aharon, Moses’s brother.

Question

Why did Moses “fall on his face”? (Num. 16:4)

Answers

1.  Moses was overwhelmed with prophetic inspiration at the moment, and fell on his face.  (ibn Ezra)

2. Moses assumed the position of prayer. (Rashbam)

3. Moses was embarrassed for being accused of giving leadership to his brother.  (Hizkuni)

Follow up questions

1.  Moses was able to speak to God ‘Face to Face’ so why was he overwhelmed with prophecy and needed to fall to the ground?

2.  Why did Moses assume the position of prayer?

3.  Why was Moses embarrassed?  He knew who the leader should be.

I’ll leave the questions out there for you to think about, and to comment on.

Observations/Lessons

This was certainly a moment that Moses faced a serious attack on his leadership.  We’ve all faced times when people doubted us.  At times we may have responded with embarrassment.  Perhaps sometimes we felt the need to pray.  And maybe, sometimes, we’ve felt that the attack gave us insight into ourselves and our future.  Moses shows us that all three reactions are possible.

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