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Monday, Sivan 27, 5781 / June 7, 2021


This Shabbat we read Parshat Korach. The Parsha begins with the story of the rebellion of Korach against Moshe and Aaron.  Korach was a member of the tribe of Levi, and a cousin of Moshe and Aaron.   Jealous of Moshe's and Aaron's positions of leadership, he gathered 250 people, most of them his neighbors of the tribe of Reuben, and together they rebelled against Moshe and Aaron.


Korach claimed, "The entire congregation is holy and among them is the L-rd; Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation?" Moshe warned Korach that his uprising was not against him and Aaron but against G-d, Who appointed them to their positions. Moshe gave Korach and his group a chance to repent.


When Korach didn't repent, Moshe told everyone to distance themselves from Korach and his people.  The Torah tells us, "And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up and their households." Korach and the leaders of the revolt disappeared into the ground. The others who were with Korach were burnt in a fire sent from G-d.


Our sages say that Korach was one of the wealthiest people who ever lived.  So why did he rebel against Moshe and Aaron?  Because of jealousy!  He was jealous of their leadership positions to which G-d appointed them.  Korach used his wealth to gain power and argue against Moshe and Aaron.


In the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avot, which we will recite this Shabbat, Rabbi Elazar HaKapor says: “Envy, lust and seeking honor drive a person from the world!”  Korach’s envy and desire for self honor, drove him, literally, out of this world, into the ground.


King Solomon in Proverbs says, “Envy brings a rotting of the bones.” A person who is envious and jealous of others will always be frustrated and irritated. Happiness is a result of being satisfied and thankful for whatever we have.  One needs to acknowledge and recognize the positive and good we have rather than being envious of the things we don’t have.


In the very beginning of the Torah, in Genesis we read about the disastrous effect of jealousy.  Cain killed his brother, Abel, only as a result of jealousy, when Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and not his.


The sages give the following parable to what envy can lead:  Satan once told an envious person, “Ask me anything and you will be granted, but know that whatever you get, I will give your neighbor double!”  


Begrudging his neighbor the double portion, he couldn’t bring himself to ask for anything.  When pressed on by Satan to make a request, he finally said, “Make me blind on one eye, so that my neighbor will lose both…”  


Is jealousy always negative?  Our sages say that jealousy which results in positiveachievements is good. For example, jealousy of scholars, which results in greater scholastic achievement, is useful.