What starts with an argument between Korach, Moses’ cousin and Moses, leads to a full-scale rebellion. But the ‘argument’ was only ever in on direction. Moses disagreed, but didn’t argue, and simply suggested that they allow God to decide. It takes two to disagree, but only one to fight.
Let me explain. There is a difference between a disagreement and an argument, and that difference lies in the feeling. Simply said, a disagreement feels fine, whereas an argument feels upsetting. It’s not the subject matter, rather it is the meaning that each person invests in a situation that turns a disagreement into an argument.
My wife and I argue on occasion, but when we do it’s usually short-lived. We do have plenty of disagreements – almost on a daily basis. But because in most cases neither of us attaches that much importance to the fact that we are disagreeing, they rarely turn into an arguments.
Every disagreement has the potential to turn into an argument. In fact, every personal opinion has the potential to turn into an argument, but it only turns into an argument when you let yourself get upset about it.
We sometimes have situations where I am arguing with my wife, but she is only disagreeing with me. That’s unpleasant for me, but not for her. And times when she is arguing with me and getting upset – and I’m disagreeing, but enjoying life nonetheless. And then, of course, there are the times when we both get upset and have a good old-fashioned full-scale argument!
Moses, to be sure, was disappointed with Korach’s abuse. But he was not upset. He even did the right thing and sought out Korach with humility to try to resolve the issue. Korach, on the other hand, was fuming – in the midst of a raging argument, as he was, with no one but himself.
- Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt is founder of Tikun UK