Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dvar Torah - Parshat Korach

Moses, Aaron and Korach

The picture above is my dvar Torah on this weeks torah reading - Parshat Korach. (But it is not necessarily my commentary on the Iran situation.)

To read the Torah parsha, click here, and read chapters 16, 17, and 18.

Obviously the point of the Torah author is: don't challenge the theocratic hierarchy (i.e. the Priests.) To do so is to oppose God - and may be deleterious to your health.

Surprisingly, later Jewish sources felt somewhat uncomfortable with this Torah stance. The Talmudic rabbis never once take issue with Korach's main argument opposing the established theocracy:
"Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?"
Instead they attack Korach's character. ("He was just using the people to advance his own ego." "He was merely jealous of Moses and wished to replace him as leader." etc.) This through midrashim that have scant evidence in the text.

Perhaps this is because the rabbis, in fact, did replace the authority of the hereditary-theocracy-of-the-priests with that of their own meritocracy-of-the-learned.

But additionally, I believe, there is a deep anarchistic tendency in Prophetic, Second Temple, and early Rabbinic Judaism. It distrusts both Kings and Priests. And as if to emphasis this point the Rabbis juxtapose Parshat Korach's message of support for a fixed hereditary hierarchy with a Haftarah reading that problematizes Kingship, and hearkens back to a "golden age" when Israel was ruled directly by God through the intermediacy of ad hoc and temporary judges and prophets - people who drew their authority from their message not from their birth.

To read this peon to anarchy-lost read the haftarah here: Samuel 11:12 through 12:22.


Anonymous Eric Mendelsohn said...

You got it wrong its Korakh Korakh and Korakh

5:28 pm  

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