“Next day the whole Israelite community railed against Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘You two have brought death upon the Lord’s people’” Numbers, 17:6


The parashah of Korach is a fascinating one. In it, Korah and his followers attack Moses’s right to leadership and Aaron’s right as the High Priest of the people. Both claims are rebuffed; Korah and his followers are literally swallowed up by the earth and the 250 men who vied for the high priesthood are killed by God’s fire after attempting to bring the same incense as Aaron. There can be no clearer proof that Moses and Aaron have the calibre for the positions that they hold.

And yet… the Israelites still complain. They claim “you two have brought death upon the Lord’s people!”, as if they hadn’t seen the fearsome miracles which led to these people’s demise. As holy as those 250 men were, their reasoning was clearly flawed. They were consumed by fire, clearly showing God’s displeasure. These 250 men died for their audacity. It is their fault that they died, not the fault of Moses and Aaron. Why then did the people complain in the face of God’s proof of their mistake?

There are powerful insights to learn from this complaint. Man has the most powerful ability to deny reality in favour of a view that fits his subjective worldview. This is something that can be seen today. There are extremists acting in the most vicious ways all over the world who honestly believe that their actions somehow make this world a better place. The power that people give themselves in believing that they can twist reality in favour of their view of it is astounding. 

Mediation becomes difficult when one or both of the parties believes that they are not only correct, but also have the spiritual high ground. This creates a situation which is dangerous, because when one believes themselves to have the spiritual upper hand, it segues into absolute correctness. There can be no proof, no matter how clear or objective, that will shake that belief, and therein lies the ultimate sadness and potential destruction.

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