From THE NEW YORK TIMES – June 28, 2022
How I Build a Good Day When I’m Full of Despair at the World
By Mary Pipher, Clinical Psychologist – quoting her maternal grandmother:
“[Be] the person you want to live with every day of your life.”
JULY BIRTHDAYS, ANNIVERSARIES, AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS
Mazal Tov – Mazal Bueno to all those celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or significant event during the Month of July. If we were together at Temple Kol Hamidbar, we would extend a Tallit over you, say a special prayer for you, and recite the following blessing (cf Num. 6:24-26):
- May the Eternal One bless you and protect you!
- May the Eternal One deal kindly and graciously with you!
- May the Eternal One bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!
KËIN YEHI RATZON (Let it be so!)
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/korach
Korach (קֹרַח – Hebrew name meaning “baldness, ice, hail or frost”) – Numbers 16:1−18:32
Now Korach, son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, betook himself, along with Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth – descendants of Reuben – to rise up against Moses, … – Numbers 16:1-2
- Korach and his followers, Dathan and Abiram, lead a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. God punishes the rebels by burying them and their families alive. Once again, God brings a plague on the people. (16:1-17:15)
- The chief of each tribe deposits his staff inside the Tent of Meeting. Aaron’s staff brings forth sprouts, produces blossoms, and bears almonds. (17:16-26)
- The Kohanim and Levites are established and assigned the responsibility of managing the donations to the Sanctuary. All of the firstborn offerings shall go to the priests and all the tithes are designated for the Levites in return for the services they perform. (18:1-32)
1 Samuel 11:14-12:22
By: Beth Ellen Young
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.16.1-18.32
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
קרח Korach – Numbers 16:1–18:32
Leadership, Rebellion, and Punishments by Shawna Dolansky, pp. 893-94
MOSES’ LEADERSHIP is challenged repeatedly throughout the book of Numbers (see, for example, Number 12, 14, and 21). In this parashah, rebels challenge not only Moses’ guidance, but also Aaron’s religious authority. Scholars have long recognized that Numbers 16 combines at least two stories of insurrection: Korah and his company challenge Aaron’s exclusive right to make ritual offerings to God; Dathan and Abiram question Moses’ abilities and authority. Each story has a separate focus and outcome; nevertheless, they share important features in common. Both of them turn on questions of the legitimacy of the current leadership, both demonstrate that the current leadership is divinely ordained, and both are resolved by divine wrath in a way in which the punishment fits the crime.
In these two episodes, the people fail to see that God–not Moses and Aaron–is the one responsible for electing the civil and religious authorities. When the challengers continue to speak against Moses and Aaron, God sends a plague (17:6–15). To demonstrate that Aaron’s post as chief priest is due to divine preference and not human election, God commands each of the tribes to present a staff at the Tabernacle (17:16–26). The miraculous fruit-bearing of only Aaron’s staff proves that God has chosen only the House of Aaron for the priesthood. The different duties, responsibilities, and restrictions associated with Levites and priests then are further specified and detailed at the end of the parashah (18:1–32).
Women do not play much of a role in parashat Korach, with good reason: there is little place for women in a contest for either religious or political leadership. Aside from Miriam, Deborah (Judges 4–5), and Queen Athaliah (II Kings 11), there are hardly any female Israelite leaders recorded as such in the Bible. Miriam is a notable exception to the near absence of female leaders, for she is included in the inner circle of power along with Moses and Aaron. The prophet Micah (8th century B.C.E.) reflects this view when he proclaims in God’s name, “I redeemed you from the house of bondage, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6:4). Thus, the possibility of a female leader alongside male leaders certainly existed.
It is true that, as Tikva Frymer-Kensky has noted, the book of Samuel depicts an ishah of special status who claimed the authority to represent her town in emergency negotiations with a hostile general who recognized her authority as a matter of course (II Samuel 20:15–22). Apparently it went without saying that she was an elder, because that presumption best accounts for the city elders’ otherwise striking absence in the negotiations (compare Judges 8, 9, 11; Reading the Women of the Bible, 2002, pp. 58–61). And Susan Ackerman has argued that it may have gone without saying that the role of queen mother was an acknowledged position of political and religious leadership (Warrior, Dancer, Seductress, Queen, 1998, pp. 133–141). However, while female leadership may be occasionally discernible in Israelite historical memory, the Bible itself highlights very few women in leadership roles.
Even though the rebels’ wives are not involved in the uprising, they pay the price for their husbands’ actions, as the families of Dathan and Abiram also suffer the fate of God’s wrath. In contrast, the women related to Korah’s company are not punished for their challenge to the priesthood. Perhaps this is because women cannot serve as priests; hence, they may not have been present when their husbands offered incense to God. Unlike in Numbers 12, where both Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses yet only Miriam bore the punishment, in parashat Korach, Dathan’s and Abiram’s families are included in the punishment for political insurrection. This suggests that the punishment would have served as a warning to any contender for power, female or male.
Another View – by Amy Kalmanofsky, p. 909
PARASHAT KORACH DESCRIBES the punishment that befalls two groups of challengers. In the case of Dathan and Abiram, the rebels’ wives die along with their husbands. Yet in the Korah episode, only the men are punished. The story as a whole reflects a central biblical theme: the tension between a clan-based system of authority and a centralized system of priestly authority.
Dathan and Abiram represent what can be called clan heads or household heads. (The biblical terminology is not always consistent.) Early in Israel’s history, male heads of families had authority and jurisdiction over their families. For example, in Genesis 38 the patriarch Judah decides whether his pregnant, seemingly adulterous daughter-in-law Tamar should live or die. In contrast, the priest administers the ritual to determine whether a woman is an adulteress in Numbers 5.
According to the Bible, women within the clan system of authority played a significant role and exercised power as well as some authority. Although subject to the authority of the male head of the household, women clearly influenced the family head. For instance, unable to tolerate her rival, Sarah demands that Abraham expel Hagar. Despite Abraham’s reluctance, God tells him to obey Sarah (Genesis 21:12).
Texts that focus on the priesthood shift authority away from the family’s head toward the central sanctuary and its priests. Women, in particular, are affected by this shift (see at Leviticus 26:30). Whereas in Genesis 38 Tamar actively works to secure her fate, in Numbers 5 the suspected woman is a passive figure. The inclusion of the wives of Dathan and Abiram reflects the role that women played within the clan system.
Thus, Numbers 16 is not only a story of infighting among families, ultimately championing Aaron and his descendants; it also tells a story about the seeming demise of an important notion of the “biblical family.” The deaths of Dathan, Abiram, and their wives at the doorway to their tents (16:27) make the point painfully clear: after all, the entrance to the tent is a place associated with theophany and judgment in the clan system, and hence also a symbol of authority (Genesis 18:1; Deuteronomy 22:21). Together, Dathan, Abiram, and their wives represent the clan system that must be erased–swallowed whole–in order to establish the authority of the priesthood.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 3 Tamuz through 9 Tamuz, we lovingly remember:
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, July 1, 2022.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Korach (triennial part) Num. 17:25-18:32
Time: Jul 1, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jul 1, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!
PS – Happy Independence Day Monday, July 4, 2022!