The Bible Says What? ‘Even the children of traitors can be honoured’

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The Bible Says What? ‘Even the children of traitors can be honoured’

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith delves into the Torah and picks out a controversial topic, delivering a progressive Jewish angle

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith

In the Torah portion bearing his name in the Book of Numbers, Korach leads a rebellion against his cousins Moses and Aaron for the leadership of the Children of Israel. It goes badly for Korach and in a dramatic scene in Numbers Chapter 16, he and his followers are swallowed up by an earthquake, followed by a fire.

That’s what happens to those who unfairly and self-servingly challenge the leadership of Moses. You would have expected Moses and Aaron to be broigus, to carry on holding a grudge against Korach’s family.

Then, in the Torah portion Pinchas, in the middle of a list of all of the tribes of Israel ready to go into the Promised Land in Numbers Chapter 26, we hear that the children of Korach all survived to be part of the people to make the last part of the journey and settle the land.

That’s not all. In the Book of Psalms we can see that the children of Korach remained part of the whole priestly set up of the Temple, up there with all the other Levite clans, the broigus of previous generations presumably put aside.

Their name is attached to a sequence of Psalms including Psalm 47, traditionally said before the Shofar is sounded on Rosh Hashanah, and Psalm 49, read in a house of mourning to this day. Moses and Aaron’s family, who held the High Preisthood, clearly did not hold a lasting grudge against Korach’s family, whose ancestral founder had directly challenged their leadership.

As we begin the countdown towards a new Jewish year, we should consider whether we are keeping broiguses going, rejecting            people because we resent what their parents or grandparents might have done. Moses and Aaron were able to let their broigus go. We can too.

  •  Rabbi Mark Goldsmith serves Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue
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