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Friday, August 12, 2022 - 15 Av 5782
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Friday, 12 August 2022
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Divinely Appointed
You have some administrative duty to take care of – renewing your license, perhaps, or applying for a passport – only to find yourself hopelessly entangled in red tape. The frustration is only heightened when you turn to some official for assistance, and are sent to yet another department or handed another form to fill out. You wonder how such incompetents ever reached the position they are in. Most likely, the unhelpful bureaucrat did not reach his position because of his stellar qualifications.

We're all human, after all, and cronyism and nepotism are facts of life. A little nudge there, a favor there, and the person we favor is ensconced in a comfortable, well-paying position as a middle-level bureaucrat.

The Torah portion of Korach begins with the rancorous episode of Korach and his band of rebels. Moses had appointed Aaron, his brother, as high priest. To add insult to injury, Moses then appointed Elitzafan ben Uzziel, a younger cousin of Korach's, as head of the Levites, bypassing Korach himself.

Korach himself had his own considerable qualifications: He was a scholar, a head of Sanhedrin and a dynamic leader. With his powers of persuasion, he drew around him a group of 250 like-minded individuals, "princes of assembly, summoned for meeting, men of renown" (Korach 16:2). Together they approached Moses with their grievance. "It is much for you! For the entire assembly - all of them - are holy and G-d is among them, so why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of G-d?"

To Moses, the humblest of all men, the charge was deeply disturbing. Korach had accused him of acting on his own whim - of putting his selfish considerations ahead of the needs of the Jewish people. After attempting numerous peaceful methods of settling the feud, Moses finally turned to G-d and impassionedly pleaded that He come to Moses' defense, and prove unequivocally that Moses acted only as G-d's messenger.

In every generation, there is a righteous man who is the Moses of the generation, divinely inspired and charged with the task of leading the Jewish people. Unfortunately, every generation also has its Korach - the self-appointed leader whose sole task seems to be fomenting strife and challenging the leadership and wisdom of the leader of the generation.

Moses asked G-d to intercede in a dramatic way, to settle this question for all time: Does G-d indeed appoint a tzadik in each generation to lead the people? Can we trust that the tzadik's pronouncements and actions are divinely inspired, or must we always suspect him of cynical manipulation?

In our generation, we have merited a leader like Moses, a truly faithful shepherd who loyally leads the Jewish people towards redemption. The Rebbe promised us that our generation is the final one of exile and the first of redemption, and that the leader of the generation – the Rebbe himself – will lead us out of exile.


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