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July 07, 1989 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-07-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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36

FRIDAY ,11.11Y 7 19114

Using Envy As An Inspiration
To Be Better Human Beings

RABBI MORTON YOLKUT

Special to The Jewish News

0

f all the uprisings —
and there were many
— against the leader-
ship of Moses during the 40
years in the wilderness,
Korah's mutiny recorded in
this week's sidra was the most
serious.
Korah was not a non-entity.
He was not an ordinary, ig-
norant rabble rouser. On the
contrary, we are told he was a
pikeach, a very bright and
learned scholar (Midrash Rab-
bah 18:3). In addition to his
brilliance, he was an extreme-
ly wealthy man. The Midrash
says that of all the people who
came out of Egypt, Korah was
the richest. He had been
secretary of the treasury in
the cabinet of Pharoah before
the Exodus and left a multi-
millionaire. He was so rich, ac-
cording to the Midrash, that it
took 300 mules just to carry
the keys to the safes in which
he kept his money! lb this day
the classic Yiddish expression
that defines fabulous wealth is
"reich vie Korah" — as rich as
Korah.
In addition to scholarship
and wealth, Korah apparent-
ly had a great and positive in-
fluence on his family. The
descendants of Korah includ-
ed the great Samuel, the pro-
phet who nearly equaled the
stature of Moses, and 24 com-
posers of songs and psalms
who served in the Temple.
Korah then seemed to be a
man blessed with good for-
tune, with everything in the
world going for him. This
makes the logical question of
Rashi even more compelling:
"Mah Ra-u L'shtut Zeh" —
what made him act in so
stupid and irresponsible a
manner? Why would such a
wise, gifted and fortunate a
man lead a revolt doomed to
failure?
The Midrash says it was
because he wanted to have
still more and because he
begrudged whatever Moses
had and wanted that, too.
Korah was a malcontent, an
unhappy and unsatisfied in-
dividual, constantly striving
to obtain what others had.
Despite his extraordinary
blessings he envied Moses the
leadership of the people and
envied Aaron the priesthood of
Israel. It was this pernicious
envy that led him to an ill-

Morton Yolkut is rabbi of
Congregation B'nai David.

fated
revolution
and
ultimately to his own
destruction.
Envy, unfortunately, is a
ubiquitous disease. An 18th
century essayist wrote that
"there is but one man who can
believe himself free from envy,
and it is he who has never ex-

Shabbat Korah:
Numbers
16:1-18:32,
Samuel 11:14-12:22

amined his own heart." How
true! We are often satisfied
with the nachas of a child's
graduation until we see that
our friend's child has
graduated with honors. We
are pleased with the acquisi-
tion of a new home until we
see that our neighbor's home
is more ornate and elaborate.
We would do well to recall the
Talmud's warning against the
consequences of envy: "he who
focuses his attention on that
which is not his is denied
what he seeks and loses what
he already has" (Sotah 9a).

For all of the destruction
consequences that have been
observed about envy, we must
add that there is a form of
envy that can be most con-
structive. There is, in fact, an
envy that is tolerated, even
encouraged by our tradition:
Kinat Sofrim, the competitive
jealousy of scribes and
scholars, a healthy competi-
tion in the field of learning
and scholarship.
Says the Talmud, a man
might be jealous of everything
except a father and his son
and a teacher of his student.
Should a son surpass his
father's intelectual success,
the father beams with pride
and satisfaction. Should a stu-
dent excel his teacher, the
teacher reaps joy and nachas.
If envy leads us to work
hard and accomplish, to im-
prove our lives, to study and
grow, then it can be a con-
structive means to progress.
God has given us no trait
that cannot be used for good.
Even envy can be used to in-
spire and motivate us to grow
into better and more produc-
tive human beings. ❑

SYNAGOGUES

I

•111

■ MII ■ 111 ■ 1.1 ■ 11

Dr. Kreindler Is Elected

Dr. Alfred Kreindler has
been named president of Tem-
ple Beth El. Other new of-
ficers installed at the temple's
annual meeting are Laurence

.,,.

temple's married group, chair-
man of the ritual and worship
committee and chairman of
the music committee.
Elected to a three-year term
on the board of trustees were
Saralyn Balan, FayClare
Blau, Anthony Brown, Ber-
nice Gershenson, Lucy
Gersten, Kalman Goren,
Julian Greenebaum and Earl
Remer. Elected to a one-year
term were Audrey Feldman,
Philip Fischer, Cheryl Ker-
win and Elaine Sturman.
Diane Chasnick, Earl
Remer and Jerry Schare were
presented with Kiddush cups
from outgoing president Lee
J. Marks for their service to
the temple during the past
year.

Orthodox Name
Rabbi Kirshner

Alfred Kreindler

Deitch, first vice president;
Herbert Kaufman, second
vice president; John Kamins,
treasurer; and Fredrick
Simon, secretary.
Kreindler has served Beth
El as vice president of the

Rabbi Sherman Kirshner of
Congregation B'nai Israel
was recently nominated to
serve on the executive board
of the Fellowship of Tradi-
tional Orthodox Rabbis. The
FTOR was formally incor-
porated in 1988 for rabbis
with Orthodox smicha who

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