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Two Minutes of Torah: Korach - God's Protective Nature

Occasionally my wife has accused me of being over-protective when it comes to our daughter, Gabby.  This generally entails me following her around a little closer than I possibly need to when we’re at the playground and being ready to jump to her defense if it’s ever necessary and, often when it isn’t because I anticipate that it could be.  I am an over-protective parent but I take that as being part of my role in being her father.

And, in reading this week’s Torah portion, I think God is also over-protective when it comes to Moses and Aaron.  This week we read about Korach’s rebellion against Moses and Aaron’s leadership when he, together with Datan, Abiram and 250 Israelites assembled in front of our leaders.  And he challenged Moses saying, “you have gone too far, for all the community are holy, all of them.  And, Adonai’s in their midst, why then do you raise yourselves above Adonai’s congregation?”   

Korach’s challenge to Moses is striking because it is not a challenge against God, it is simply a challenge to Moses and Aaron as the leaders of the people.  And, Moses response is also telling in this way,  Moses does not call on God, when he falls on his face, instead he then speaks to Korach and his allies.  And in all of these exchanges, God is silent.  God is referenced by Moses, but we do not know what God is thinking.  

Only when Korach gathers the community against Moses and Aaron in front of the Tent of Meeting, does God finally appear, and then God is decisive in God’s statement and action.  God tells Moses and Aaron – stand back from this community so that I may annihilate them in an instant.  God is so protective of Moses and Aaron that God is prepared to destroy the entire Israelite community because of this challenge to their leadership.  And it is only because Moses and Aaron fall on their faces and pray to God that the community is spared. 

But God is still that protective parent.  God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to stand apart from Korach, Datan and Abiram; the ground then opened up and swallowed these people alive down to Sheol, an ultimate punishment from God.  We see in this instant that while God is upset when the people challenge God’s authority, God is even more upset when they challenge Moses and Aaron’s authority and right to lead.  In this moment we see how over-protective God can be and what it truly means to experience God’s love, care and protection.  

We know that an attack on ourselves can be painful, but an attack on those we love is even more challenging and often elicits an even stronger response, we see this from God too, and we can hope that we will be the recipients of God’s love and protection.

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