In the recent portion Korach there is rebellion among the Israelites and Moses and Aaron are accused of power-grabbing. A man named Korach incites a group of rebels to take action and they confront Moses but are consumed when the earth suddenly opens and swallows them.
Moses sends Aaron to mollify the restless people and God instructs Moses to take one staff from each chieftan and place it in the ark overnight. The next day, they discover that Aaron's staff has blossomed with almonds, a sign from God that Aaron is the rightful leader of the kohanim (high priests).
One thought that comes to my mind immediately when reading this portion: how do we treat each other in the face of conflict and strife? This portion presents a good example of how easy it is to get caught up in the heat of the moment when communications go awry and people are disgruntled.
My very wise mother always says that it is in times of hardship when we really show what our values and principles are. Unfortunately, conflicts can be very telling of someone's true character when push-comes-to-shove (so to speak).
In the case of Korach we may perhaps interpret his demise as a metaphor for the fact that when we act out of carelessness or malice in a contentious situation, we harm ourselves as well as others. For Korach to voice his grievances is one matter, but he went a step further and incited a full-scale rebellion. No doubt Moses was was not the perfect leader, but rebellion is a bit extreme. As the result of his actions, not only Korach but everyone that followed him in the rebellion were swallowed up by the earth.
A more literal interpretation for Korach's demise: when strife arises in a community, the community becomes divided. If the conflict persists without proper action to smooth things over, some groups/individuals may disappear from the greater community altogether.
Each of us has a tremendous amount of power to influence people and situations, so we must take care to act with diplomacy, especially in the face of conflict.
Be safe this coming week!