At a time when the Israelites were feeling hopeless about their future, a man named Korach arose to challenge the leadership of Moses. He did so with what appears to be a very noble argument. He was as a champion of the masses as he admonishes Moses:
“You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you raise yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
Clearly, he sounds like a voice for the people as he speaks of each person’s worth and each person’s holiness. But we learn that Korach was motivated, not by a desire to help or uplift the people. Rather, he was angry and resentful that Moses had overlooked him and appointed someone else to a certain prestigious leadership position.
But I think that there is still an important and timeless message here: The idea that each and every person has the capacity to live a holy life. But what Korach failed to understand and appreciate is that we approach that potential not through title or status, or through our words or through the creed we profess. Rather, we become holy through actions of loving-kindness; through deeds (mitzvot) of sharing and uplifting and reaching beyond ourselves to make the world a little better and more just place.
For all of us, let us remember that in the Jewish sense, to be holy “is to let the divine emerge from our deeds;” to cause God’s presence to be felt by our actions.
Surely, the appeal of Korach remains a noble challenge: “For all the community are holy, every one of them.”