In this week’s parashah, we read about Korach’s rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Together with 250 well-known men among the Israelites, he argued:
For the entire Assembly – all of them – are holy and the Lord is among them, so why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of the Lord?
Korach’s challenge is comparable to every child who said, “it’s not fair.” If all of Israel is holy to God, why do Moses and Aaron get to be more holy? If everyone is equal, why are there differences?
What Korach confuses is the idea that everyone is equal in worth – each person has intrinsic value and a contribution to make to this world – but not everyone is identical. Not everyone has the same skill set, the same personalities, the same strengths and weakness. We are all different. Even if we are all holy. Korach was uncomfortable with distinction and differentiation, and fought for uniformity. Our rabbis taught in the Midrash that God separated light from darkness to better serve the world, just as He separated Israel from the nations and Moses and Aaron from the rest of the people. The distinctions do not mean better. They mean that everyone has a different role to play and a unique contribution to make. And if we permit it, and remain open, the world has the potential to thrive and grow from these differences and distinctions. They make our world richer.
As we say good-bye to our grade 6 class this year and wish them much success in high school, I share with you the ethical will prepared by the parents of the class of 2017. An ethical will relays to the students the values we hope they take with them as they leave Akiva. While each student has received an identical copy of the will, we expect and wish for each student to shine in his/her own unique way.
Wishing everyone a safe, fun and hot summer.