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Thought for the Day: Nisyonos for Great People

We can make a mistake and think that our g'dolim are past any sort of challenges that would allow them to understand our situation.  "They don't understand what it is to work in a company and have to deal with the kinds of struggles I face on a daily basis."  However, Chazal tell us that "gadol mei'chaverio,yitzro gadol hemenu" -- the greater a person is, the greater are his challenges.  Not only do the g'dolim understand what we are experiencing, they are themselves be challenged daily in ways that would paralyze us with fear.

The Torah gives us a prime example, Korach and his attack on Moshe Rabeinu.  We all know, as Rashi tells us clearly, that Korach made his mistake because of jealousy and a desire for kavod.  Moshe triumphed simply be being humble and doing what was right.  Simple.  Easy to understand.  Practically boring.

Before you fall into slumber, however, please note: No one stood up for Moshe Rabeinu.  If it was just Korach talking behind Moshe Rabeinu's back to some of his cronies, it certainly would be simple, easy to understand, and boring.  But Korach came with an entourage of 250 g'dolim from the dor dei'ah -- the generation that stood at Har Sinai and experienced direct contact with the Creator.  None of them had reason to be jealous, none were looking for lost glory.  Their only reason for joining was because Korach's arguments made sense.  More than that, the entire populace -- all that same dor dei'ah -- stood silent because of doubt.  The entire nation was unsure who was right.  Obviously Korach was not going around saying that HaShem didn't tell Moshe Rabeinu to appoint his brother as kohein and Korach's cousin as nasi.  Everyone knew that had been a direct command from HaShem.  So what was the argument?

b'derech sh'adam rotzeh leileich ba, molichim oso -- the way a person wants to go creates a spiritual environment that encourages movement in that direction.  That's true for anyone.  Moshe Rabeinu was also given a privilege never before and never since granted -- he could turn to ask HaShem whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.  Korach's charge was that Moshe Rabeinu had let himself want his brother to be appointed to kohein.  Moshe Rabeinu, on the other hand, had to stand in front of the entire nation and pledge that every fiber of his being wanted only ratzon HaShem and that none of his personal feelings influenced even his most hidden desires.  Is it any wonder that Korach's arguments sounded more than plausible and that Moshe Rabeinu stood alone and isolated in his simple declaration of absolute objectivity?

Korach's feelings of jealousy did lead to his mistake.  But if our feelings of jealousy are a 9 volt battery, Korach's was a two million volt high tension line.  If our resolve to do what's right and not allow our personal feelings to affect our decisions is a mole hill, Moshe Rabeinu's was Mt. Everest.

Ultimately, then, we all deal with the same challenges.  Our g'dolim understand us and can guide us very well because they have experienced and continue to experience all those same challenges.  That is (again) also why it is so very important to have a rav; we each need someone who has experience communicating with us.  Not because we need some who knows how to talk to us, but because we need practice in paying attention.

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