A Perasha Ponder…
This week’s Perasha, Perasha Korah, makes me reflect about jealousy. Korah and his assembly challenge the authority of Moshe in what Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh calls a movement motivated solely by jealousy of the priestly honors bestowed upon the tribe of Aaron. An upset Moshe responds, “You want too much. O sons of Levi!” After a power struggle, Hashem punishes Korah and his loyal followers with death. Now, I cannot claim to know G-d’s reasons, but to my understanding, this troupe was guilty of disrespect, greed and as Hirsh says, jealousy.
But is jealousy always evil? I once read something somewhere that made me reconsider its bad reputation. While of course we should guard against envy and wanting others to have less, this article suggested that jealousy alerts us to our true desires, that identifying our passions is a clarifying step in understanding ourselves and achieving personal success. This writer proposed that the burning feeling of want can indeed spark a much-improved life.
Coveting has also served mankind well, for it inspires competition. Think of the services and stores that have been improved because of the need to out-do a rivaling business. Think of artisans and athletes who push themselves for grander achievements so as to remain champions in their respective fields. Even on a global scale, countries vie against others for greater technological advancements.
But just as we must strive, we must know when to be satisfied, when to embrace our condition and make the best of it. Apparently, Korah never made this peace.