Mention the name Benedict Arnold and a whole host of emotions comes to mind. The best-known traitor during the Revolutionary War; Arnold offered to turn West Point over to the British in exchange for money and a commission in the British army. Feeling unappreciated by Congress, and others in the Colonial military, Arnold sought honor from his enemies. His plan came to light and he abandoned his own troops- eventually leading British forces in battle against Colonists and ultimately settling in England after the war. To consider that an individual would betray his own people fills our hearts with dread. Treason is so reprehensible that it carries special distinction. It is the only crime mentioned in the Constitution. Considered a most heinous offense, no actual punishment is stipulated and it is left to Congress to set an appropriate punishment if and when a person if found guilty ( Article III, section 3).
In this week’s Parsha we learn of a revolt against Moses. Korach, a first cousin of Moses and Aaron, complains that Moses has taken too much leadership upon himself. Korach gathers 252 other malcontents and they all accuse Moses of leading Israel for his own selfish reasons. Moses, shocked, falls to his feet. Later, he seeks out the rebels and attempts to reconcile with them. They refuse to discuss their grievances and a face-off ensues. Eventually, an earthquake settles the dispute by swallowing Korach and his co-conspirators, leaving many other Israelites afraid, confused and questioning Moses’s authority. Ironically, the death of the rebel Korach, which demonstrates God’s endorsement of Moses, leads to other Israelites’ challenging Moshe and Aharon. It is as if Korach’s revolt gave other individuals permission to rebel against Moses too.
Could it be that people are more easily incited to revolt, aggression and hostility when they see people in leadership roles acting aggressively and in self-serving ways?
How we live our lives is up to us. How we follow the pathways and conduct of others, including our leaders, speaks volumes about our morality and integrity.
May we live the right way, daily, throughout 2018.