Korach June 22, 2017

This week’s parasha (Torah portion) contains the story of Korach and his supporters who mount a near “coup” against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Those who participated are killed in a dramatic event.  Nonetheless, God commands that the firepans, the very tools of their revolt, be used to make an altar covering for the Mishkan.  The Torah says that the fire pans “have become holy because they were offered before Adonai.” (Num. 17:3).  Commentators have puzzled over the meaning of this passage. How could symbols of sin and disrespect for leaders become holy?  One interpretation is that they are “mementos of the victory of truth over falsehood.” (Arama, p. 866 in Etz Hayim Torah Commentary.)  Much of the news cycle in America these days is focused around the difficult task of ferreting out truth over falsehood, especially in reporting on the FBI’s Russia probe.  When all is said and done and the truth is revealed, will we find a way, as a nation, to bring a sense of reverence back to our treasured institutions of Democracy? What “firepans” will we sanctify as a way of moving forward together?