Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jewish FAIL

My friend Jean Maskuli, Punk Torah contributor, fellow blogger and rabbi-type and generally hilarious lady just published the inaugural edition of  the weekly Jewish Fail Awards. 

She says the Jewish Fail Awards are not supposed to be about serious stuff, the impetus being all this internet sniping between Jews about this generation's view of the State of Israel and whether it's okay for us to change our feelings about it, and maybe even what it's okay for those feelings to be. (Read the original article here, and some commentary here and here and here, it is interesting stuff and you will find yourself in this discussion. Except the part where it gets nasty. I hope you don't find yourself in there.)

That's actually the kind of the point of the Jewish Fail I want to contribute to this week - Korach. I've blogged here a little bit about the Israelite's journey through the desert that we started reading about a couple of weeks ago. The basic authority structure during this time was: Moses + his team of judges = leadership (dealing with he people), Aharon (Moses' brother) + his family = priesthood (dealing with G-d.) 

Korach and his buddies decided they didn't like how Moses and Aharon had been leading things, and they didn't like how they had gotten the jobs in the first place. They think they know everything, and they think they can do just as good a job as Aharon, if not better.

FAIL. The earth opened up and swallowed all of them for this little episode.

Yes, yes, I know. There is a very thin line between FAIL-level dissent and arguing l'shem shamayim (for the greater good.) But that line is also very, VERY clear.

Here's the thing. We're the Jewish people. We argue, we kvetch. It's what we do, and it should even be encouraged, if it's done in the right way. You want to dissent, and that's great. You want to go against the grain, and believe me, I get that. It's great actually - it's what we're commanded to do. It's our imperative as a people to challenge.

But when I get uncomfortable is when we do it just to stir a pot, to be flippant, or to flaunt our disillusion or ignorance without having anything helpful to add to the conversation.

What I really hate is when we're unkind to one another, and what makes my blood boil is when we're disrespectful. That just makes us look bad - all of us.

Hopefully, this week, our Torah portion reminds us and calls us to be thoughtful, kind, and respectful, in ALL our conversations and challenges - especially the Jewish ones.

(D'var Torah for Parshat Korach, Numbers 16-18.)

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