Next time you forget that God is the source of all success, think about the tragic fate that awaits the villain of this week’s Torah portion.
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion (in Israel!) is Korach (Numbers 16:1–18:32), and in it we read about a really bad guy named Korach and his cult of rabble-rousers who decided to protest – rebel, actually – against Moses.
They accused Moses of taking too much power for himself. One thing leads to another and God Himself gets involved. After offering Korach a few chances to back down, which he refuses, Korach and company are swallowed up by the earth – not a pretty site. In the end, the nation of Israel is made to realize that Moses and Aaron are not in it for themselves, but are only in leadership positions because God put them there. In fact, they’d rather God hadn’t!
The Midrash notes that there were two exceptionally wealthy individuals in history. One was Jewish and one was gentile. Korach was the Jew and Haman was the gentile. Both of them met a terrible end.
Similarly, the Midrash mentions that there were two exceptionally wise people in history. One was Jewish and one was gentile. Achitofel was the Jew and Bilaam was the gentile. Both of them met a terrible end.
There were also two exceptionally strong individuals in history. One was Jewish and one was gentile. Samson was the Jew and Goliath was the gentile. Both of them met a terrible end.
So why did all these people, Jews and gentiles with similar characteristics have terrible deaths?
It is explained that it was because they did not acknowledge that their gifts and talents were from heaven. Their talents led to their downfall. We have to realize that all our talents, all our success, all our wisdom, strength, and money, EVERYTHING is a gift from Heaven.
The reality is that most do indeed realize that their brains are a gift from Heaven, and many will quickly acknowledge that about their strength, as well. But when it comes to wealth, people seem to believe that they made it on their own, using their own work, efforts and skills. They don’t realize that their wealth is just as much a gift from God as anything else.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the Torah and Midrash are trying to teach us to appreciate and recognize that all of our talents and success are nothing more than the product of God’s Divine Providence upon us. If you forget that, well, remember that Korach and the others forgot it too!
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below:
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