Israel Forever

For the week ending 12 June 2010 / 29 Sivan 5770

The Power of Graft

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
"As rich as Korach!"

This is a common Jewish way of describing an exceptionally wealthy man. It is based on the Talmudic description of the vast fortune of the man whose rebellion against Moshe is recorded in the Torah portion we will hear read in synagogue this Shabbat.

What seems to surprise us in this account is the success of this rebel, consumed by envy of family members in authority, in recruiting 250 "leaders of the assembly… men of renown" to join his rebellion. The answer provided by our Sages (Mesechta Sanhedrin 52a) is that Korach bought their allegiance by lavishly providing them with food and drink.

Despite the stature of these 250 outstanding people, they were so susceptible to bribery that they ended up destroying themselves. What a powerful lesson for today's politicians of much lesser stature!

May the terrible fate which befell those 250 when a fire came forth from G-d to consume them serve as a warning to people in power to avoid the temptation of graft and thus help secure Israel forever.

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