Kenneth Cohen

Try to Avoid Conflict

There is a Mishna in Pirkei Avot that says the disagreements between Shamai and Hillel, were for the sake of Heaven. The disagreements of Korach and his congregation, were not for the sake of Heaven.

It is implied by the wording of this Mishna, that there was also a great deal of strife within the ranks of the Korach rebellion. They had many different views as to how to go about removing Moshe and Aharon from their positions. The Noam Elimelech wrote that they all agreed on one point. They wanted to fight Moshe Rabbeinu at all costs. He was their common enemy.

This sounds strikingly familiar to many of the conflicts we see in the world today. In Israel, there are many groups that fight among themselves, but agree on one thing: רק לא ביבי, “as long as it’s not Bibi.” The same sentiment exists in the States with their “Trump” syndrome.

At the time of the Torah, there were demagogues, such as Korach, that knew how to rile up the people. They didn’t even know what the cause was, and they were ready to join the movement. Today it is the media that relentlessly goes after those that they do not like. They have a tremendous influence over the masses, who do not have the wisdom to discern between the truth and “fake news.”

Moshe and Aharon’s motivation was to show the people the truth. It helps a lot if you can bring down a fire to consume your sacrifice. But there needs to be a desire to seek real clarity in this world. Avoiding strife and conflicts that have no validity, should be learned from the disaster of Korach. We must always be certain that our motivations are pure. In that way, we will be confident that all that we do will be “for the sake of Heaven.”

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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