This week in Israel we read the Torah portion of Korach. In it, Korach arises with 250 of the most exalted leaders of the time to challenge the leadership of Moses and his brother Aaron. Korach argues that all of the assembly of the Jewish nation are equally holy and that it is not fair for Moses and Aaron to be exalted over the rest.
While his words seem to be extremely noble, it turns out that his intentions are not in fact as selfless as they seem. Korach is power-hungry and merely uses this seemingly noble argument as a deception for his selfish ambitions.
Imagine for a moment being Moses in this episode. He has shown complete self-sacrifice for this nation – even arguing with G-d, “If you will not forgive this nation, remove me from Creation.” He knows that he has done everything he can to be a faithful servant for G-d and the people. Undoubtedly, he has every right in the world to chastise this rebellious group to the extreme.
Instead, Moses does something wondrous. Since the beginning of his leadership, two characters – Dathan and Aviram – have been a thorn in his side; fighting him every step of the way. After discovering that they intend to support Korach and the other rebels, he goes to their tents. As opposed to summoning them, the leader of the entire nation, in front of everyone, goes before these two punks and drops to his knees begging them not to be a part of this mutiny for he knows it will bring their downfall.
This is a true leader. He is willing to diminish his own status and beg two men who have been nothing but trouble, in order to perhaps save them from divine punishment. Says the Zohar, One who is small in his own eyes – who humbles himself and makes himself small – is in fact the greatest of all. May we learn from the incredible humility and example of Moses our teacher!
– Rabbi Liad Braude