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Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Korach with Rabbi Daniel Nevins

by Shmuel Rosner

June 20, 2014 | 3:29 am

Rabbi Daniel Nevins

Our guest this week is Rabbi Daniel Nevins, the Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School and dean of the Division of Religious Leadership of The Jewish Theological Seminary. A graduate of Harvard College, Rabbi Nevins was ordained by the JTS and served for 13 years as rabbi of the Adat Shalom synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan prior to his work at the JTS. He is a member of the Executive Council of the Rabbinical Assembly and serves on its Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS). In 2006, Rabbi Nevins co-authored, with Rabbis Elliot Dorff and Avram Reisner, the responsum "Homosexuality, Human Dignity and Halakhah" that was approved by a majority vote of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. This decision was the legal foundation for the admission of gay and lesbian students to the rabbinical schools of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the American Jewish University.

This week's Torah Portion- Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)- tells the dramatic story of a mutiny incited by Korach against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Korach is joined by Datan and Aviram as well as by 250 distinguished members of the community who offer incense to prove they are worthy of the priesthood. The earth opens up and swallows the mutineers, and a fire kills the incense offerers. Aaron subsequently stops a plague by offering incense of his own and his staff then brings forth almonds, proving that his designation as high priest is divinely ordained. Our discussion focuses on the Torah’s concept of clergy—a class of people essentially set apart from the nation—and how it contrasts with the rabbinic ideal of greater integration between religious leaders and the people.

If you would like to learn some more about parashat Korach, take a look at our discussion with Rabbi Susan Silverman.

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