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Divinely different

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Parshas Korach tells the dramatic story of Korach’s rebellion against Moshe and Aaron. Korach, a Levite, challenges their leadership, claiming, “The entire congregation is holy, and G-d is among them. Why do you elevate yourselves above the assembly of G-d?” He’s joined by Doson, Aviram, and community leaders in this insurrection. Korach’s argument resonates with a fundamental truth that every Jew possesses intrinsic holiness. However, his approach and ultimate misunderstanding of divine leadership lead to his downfall.

Korach’s assertion that “the entire congregation is holy” isn’t incorrect. Each Jew indeed carries a spark of divinity, and the potential for holiness resides within every individual. This is a core tenet of Jewish thought, emphasising the inherent value and potential of every person. Yet, Korach’s error lies in his failure to acknowledge the unique roles and responsibilities assigned by G-d.

The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whose yahrzeit we mark next week on Gimmel Tammuz, explained that while every Jew is equal in their intrinsic connection to G-d, this equality doesn’t negate the presence of different roles within the community. Just as a body comprises various organs each with a distinct function essential to the body’s overall health, so too different individuals fulfil different roles. This diversity doesn’t contradict equality but rather expresses it as each role is vital and valuable in its own right.

Moshe and Aaron’s leadership was divinely ordained. Their positions weren’t self-assumed but commanded by G-d. Korach’s rebellion, therefore, wasn’t merely a challenge to human authority, but a direct confrontation with divine will. By challenging Moshe and Aaron, Korach was questioning G-d’s choices, demonstrating a fundamental lack of acceptance of G-d’s wisdom and plan.

True peace isn’t the absence of distinction but the harmonious integration of diverse roles and functions. The Rebbe teaches that Korach’s idea of equality, which sought to abolish the distinctions and roles established by G-d, undermines this harmony. Authentic unity is achieved when each individual recognises and respects the unique contributions of others, working together towards a common goal.

We learn a profound lesson about unity and leadership. True unity doesn’t come from erasing differences but from appreciating and valuing them. Each person has a unique role and purpose. By recognising and respecting these roles, we contribute to a harmonious and unified community.

Furthermore, the story underscores the importance of divinely ordained leadership. Leaders play a crucial role in guiding and maintaining the community’s spiritual and moral compass. Challenging or undermining this leadership without just cause can lead to discord and fragmentation.

As we approach the 30th yahrzeit of the Rebbe, we reflect on his profound impact and enduring legacy. The Rebbe’s leadership exemplifies the harmonious integration of diverse roles, emphasising that every person has a unique and valuable purpose. His ideals and lessons continue to inspire and guide us, demonstrating the power of divinely ordained leadership in fostering a cohesive and thriving community. Let’s strive to embody the Rebbe’s teachings by appreciating the intrinsic holiness in every individual and working together towards a unified and purposeful community.

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