My daughter, a soon-to-graduate high school senior, was chosen by a teacher to participate in an event to teach the school a lesson about drunk driving. Before school one day, organizers would set up a scene with a crashed car and police tape. My daughter and the other chosen participants would gather in a room instead of attending first period, making them appear to be missing. It would then be announced that they had been killed in the crash.
This is a tough Torah portion. It's the story of Korach, the man who led a revolt against Moses. He gathers 250 of the most important leaders and challenges Moses: "You take too much upon yourself, Moses. Not just you, but all the congregation is holy, every one of us. Why do you raise yourself up above the congregation?" (Numbers 16:2-3).
A rabbinical colleague of mine tells me that he's had extensive contact with one of the most popular and renowned entertainment celebrities of our time. This star is not only hugely famous, wealthy and successful, but has been acclaimed around the globe for his rare talent and genius. Hundreds of thousands of fans wish they could have his life; that they could be him.
In the course of their conversations, the rabbi asked this man what it is that he constantly wishes for in life. His answer: Obscurity. His dream is to fade from the limelight, and lead a simple, anonymous, man-on-the-street, white-picket-fence existence.
In this week's Torah portion, Korach, we meet a man who, by all accounts, was a very intelligent, affluent and gifted individual. A Levite by birth, he already occupied a position of prominence and prestige within the community of Israel. Yet, he rallies together a band of fellow Levites to challenge the leadership of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron.
The Torah portion for this Shabbat is Korach, which details a disastrous mutiny led by Korach, a first cousin of Moses and Aaron.