Landslides and, volcanic activity are part and parcel of our world but, in this weeks’ Parasha, the earth opens up and swallows Korach. Fire consumes his followers. This was not climate change. It was down to human behaviour.
In China, Russia and other countries around the world there appears to be a move to replace liberal democracy with a reversion to Autocracy. What was the reason for Korachs’ rebellion? Was it an early version of “popular uprising”; to use the genuine concerns of the people to challenge Moses? However, even legitimate uprisings can be perverted. Korach is incensed by the elevation of Aaron. His justification is that we were all to be holy. God is with us all and not just for the privileged, saying:
You have gone too far! For all of the community are holy, all of them, why then do you raise yourselves above the Eternal’s congregation?
But he did all this in open rebellion and not in private. Maimonides comments in the Mishneh Torah:
“It is essential that rebuke be administered in private; a person shall speak to their offender calmly, employing soft language”
It is not wrong to criticise and argue but it needs to be for a good reason; not for a personal grudge or wish to dominate. There is a famous quote from Pirkei Avot – The Ethics of the Fathers:
Every argument that is for heaven’s name, it is destined to endure. But if it is not for heaven’s name — it is not destined to endure.