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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Common Ground

Parshat Korach is about dissension in the ranks and a charismatic individual who seeks to gain power by claiming that everyone is imbued with holiness and new leadership is imperative. This cinematic parsha is about family conflicts that are inflated, about politics gone wild and the dangers of rebellion. It is about populism and reaching out to the masses to seek their immediate support for different leadership.

In this landscape where chaos was the norm, it must have been easy to foment a revolution, led by a charismatic leader who is a strong and insistent communicator. Could Moshe find common ground with Korach? How does a society find common ground in the heat of political upheaval?

The landscape of political upheaval hasn't changed much since those days in the desert. The news still brims with reports of modern day Korachs around the globe. We are still working on the skills of finding common ground and communicating peacefully with one another.

Wishing you peace and wishing all of us common ground.



In Torah it says that It is not far from here.

Not at the bottom of the sea and not high in the sky,

but Here,

if we could just notice it.

How do we find it ?

Where is the Common Ground

for we have been cast from the garden and into the desert that threatens to swallow us.

For we are a people divided, as the sea was divided so long ago.

Are we as Cain and Abel, brother pitted against brother?

Unable to find the spark of holiness in each other's eyes?

Where is Avraham, who was able venture forth into the unknown?

Where is the man in the field, to lead us in the right direction;

to change the course of our tangled journey?

Where is the well, the place of meeting, where we might meet eye to eye?

Where is Moses, our teacher, to help us find the right words to say?

Where is Aaron to help us find common ground?

Where is Miriam, who might bring song to a people divided?

Where is Yitro to guide us when communicating seems overwhelming?

Where is Bilaam's donkey to talk sense to us?

Where is David, who might play his harp to cool ill tempers?

Where is Solomon, who might share his wisdom?

Where are the prophets who would scold and upbraid us for not listening?

For speaking ill of one another?

Where is Esther who dared to speak out?

Where are Ruth and Naomi, who opted to stay together, even if it was simpler to part ways?

and where is Rabbi Akiba who might help to find a different interpretation of the problem?

Rabbi Hillel, we must heed your words,

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.

*** ** *** ** ***

So many years later in some ways we are still in the desert.

Still stiff necked.

Still stumbling.

And we are not alone in this land of shifting grounds.

We have the company of millions.

*** ** *** ** ***

In Torah it says that it is not far from here.

Not at the bottom of the sea

and not high in the sky,

but Here,

if we could just notice it.

Common Ground.

Please let's keep looking.

Now Korah, son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, betook himself, along with Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—descendants of Reuben — to rise up against Moses, together with two hundred and fifty Israelites, chieftains of the community, chosen in the assembly, men of repute. They combined against Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and יהוה is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above יהוה’s congregation?” When Moses heard this, he fell on his face.

Numbers 16: 1-4


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