In today’s day and age, many issues can be resolved through counselling, whether it be with a Rabbi, psychologist, social worker, or other clinician. Let’s imagine for a moment that Korach had had the opportunity to see a therapist before he decided to organize a coup d’état against Moshe. I think the session would most probably sound something like this:
Therapist: So Rabbi Korach what brings you here?
Korach: I don’t know really, I was referred here by a friend of mine.
Therapist: Well, I’m very glad you came. How are you today?
Korach: I’m pretty angry right now I can tell you that much.
Therapist: Tell me more about being angry.
Korach: I can tell you a whole lot about being angry that’s for sure. I’m more than angry, I’m furious. I’ve had it up to here (gestures with his hands) with Moshe. It’s always Moshe this and Moshe that. He thinks he’s so much smarter than the rest of us.
Therapist: Is this Moshe a friend of yours?
Korach: Friend? I wouldn’t say a friend, more like an acquaintance. Well, we used to be friends before he became the ‘head honcho’. Why should he be the leader of all of us? Did you know that I’m from the tribe of Levi? It’s not as if he’s the only Levi in town!
Therapist: So I hear you saying that you’re questioning whether Moshe should be the leader of the Jewish people.
Korach: You got that right! Who says he is so much better than the other Levites?
Therapist: Are there other Levites you think are more qualified?
Korach: Absolutely! You know it’s not as if Moshe is doing it all himself, he has Hashem behind him. If Hashem had given me everything he has given Moshe I could do just as good a job, if not better.
Therapist: So if I understand correctly, what you are saying is that Moshe isn’t really so great on his own, but rather Hashem has given him certain qualities?
Korach: That’s exactly what I’m saying. Is that fair, that he was given such talent?
Therapist: I don’t’ know. Do you think it’s fair?
Korach: Absolutely not. Why wasn’t I given those talents?
Therapist: Were you given talents by Hashem?
Korach: (Thinks for a minute). Probably, but no one seems to value them.
Therapist: Do you value the qualities that Hashem has given you?
Korach: Why should I? I’m obviously no Moshe!
There is a famous saying from the Torah which says, “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”. The question is whether it can also be read the opposite way, “Love yourself, as you love your neighbour.”
Each person has enormous capabilities. The problem is that all too often, people are not aware of them. And even if they are, they undermine their value in comparison to others’ talents. One reason this occurs is because so much time is spent looking at others. A person begins thinking, “Look at what so and so has done, and they did it so quickly. Why did it take me so long?” When we spend too much time comparing ourselves to others, we lose out on precious time that we could be embracing ourselves.
Ever go to an amusement park that has a funhouse? Inside there are all different types of mirrors. Some of the mirrors are regular ones that allow you to see your reflection as it truly is. Others, however, severely distort your image, making you taller, shorter, wider, skinnier, wavier, and other different funny unrealistic versions of yourself.
Often when we look at others, we see their true potential. Yet when we look at ourselves, all we see is a distorted image. It is this wacky and warped image that hinders our growth and crushes our aspirations of who we want to be.
The Baal Shem Tov (founder of Chassidus) said that when a person sees something negative in someone else, it means that there is a part of that negative trait in him as well. I think the opposite holds true too. When we look at others and see positive traits, talents, and characteristics, there is much of that positivity that we can find in ourselves as well, we only have to look.
Korach spent so much time comparing himself to Moshe that he failed to acknowledge his own personalized role that Hashem had set out for him. Life isn’t about how you measure up against others, but rather how you measure up against yourself.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,
Nuta Yisrael Shurack