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Shabbat starts on Friday at 4.50pm and ends on Saturday at 5.52pm. The weekly Torah portion is Korach.

Mincha continues at Ainsworth Property – 7/459 Collins St (North Tower), at 1.00pm and we use the WhatsApp group to confirm numbers.

The weekly lunch & shiur continues on Wed at 1.10pm at A-P 7/459 Collins – and via zoom, followed by mincha. Current topic: default lease notice terms and rules for eviction.  Details here and on the WhatsApp group.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Annette Charak.

In this week’s parasha, Korach incites a rebellion. He and his followers challenge Moses’s leadership and the granting of the priesthood to Aaron. Debate and disagreement are central to our tradition – indeed, the Talmud itself is a collection of arguments, often spanning centuries. So, what was it about the challenge to Moses’s leadership that led to the obliteration of Korach and his fellow rebels?

The Sages tell us that Korach’s behaviour exemplified an argument not for the sake of heaven: he and his followers wanted greater prestige, greater power. As Nechama Leibowitz writes, “Personal ambition outweighs [Korach’s and his congregation’s] feeling as a ‘kingdom of priests and a holy nation’. They interpreted the mission of holiness, the role of chosen people with which they had been charged by God, in the sense of conferring on them superiority and privilege, rather than as constituting a call to shoulder extra duties and responsibilities.”

The Sages contrasted Korach with the schools of Hillel and Shammai. Those schools disagreed on just about everything but their arguments were said to be for the sake of heaven (Mishnah Avot 5:17). The members of the two schools remained connected and respectful; despite their disagreement, they maintained close relations, eating together and marrying. They also had a purpose for their disagreements beyond the sake of winning the argument. According to Bartenura, their argument was for the sake of truth, not for the sake of victory and power, as it was for Korach. The Gemara tells us that they both spoke the words of a living God—both were correct, even though they held opposite positions. (Eruvin 13b:11)

Living our silo’ed lives, we sometimes forget the value of disagreement. May this week’s parasha remind us of its holiness when done for the sake of truth.

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