Sadly this week I have been involved with a number of bereavements and funerals. My wishes of condolences and comfort to all those who have lost loved ones.

Given that I have had this involvement, which has had me interacting with many more people than I usually would on a regular week, I found it prudent (and on advice from a GP) to have a COVID-19 test. I am thankful that the result came back negative but it is a reminder to all of us that we still need to be vigilant and careful. Please continue to respect the processes we have put in place in the Shule and assist us in keeping the services as safe as possible. A big thank you to the community for respecting these procedures till now! Each of us can make a difference to help slow the spread of and hopefully stop this disease!

On a different note, I would like to share a Dvar Torah I wrote for this week’s Australian Jewish News

“In an argument or disagreement, there are some people who love to make their point over and over again. Even after they may have been proven correct, they still feel the need to rub it in. In our Parsha this week, Parshat Korach, at first glance, it seems that God Himself behaves in such a manner. Allow me to explain.

Korach challenges the authority and leadership of Moses and Aaron. He is a certainly a rabble rouser and riles the people against Moses and Aaron. He claims there is nepotism in regards to them being chosen as leaders and disputes their authority.

In fact, he demands equality and that nobody should be elevated above anyone else! (The truth is he seemingly wants to be the high priest himself!)

Things do not end well for Korach and those that joined his resistance. The ground opens up and swallows them alive. God had spoken and it seemed clear that Korach and his ways were wrong.
Moses was proven to be the legitimate leader and this seemed to demonstrate God’s support for Moses and Aaron. Yet the story doesn’t end there. Two hundred and fifty ‘wannabee’ priests try to offer their incense and end up being burned in a miraculous heavenly fire. This is then followed soon after by further challenges against Moses and Aaron and once more God ravages the people with a widespread pandemic!

So three times God demonstrates his point – ground opening up, heavenly fire, and pandemic. Point made. Or so you would think?

The Torah relates one further story of proof in terms of validating Aaron and Moses.  Aaron is told to take dry branches from each tribe and place them in the Holy of Holies. The next morning the nation is amazed to see that Aaron’s stick had blossomed and bore fruit.

The question is why the need for another proof? Surely the previous three were sufficient. Surely everyone got the message at this point??

The truth is God was no longer trying to demonstrate the Aaron and Moses were the leaders. That was already quite clear. He was now demonstrating why they were the correct leaders.
This fourth episode was showing the people the character traits, the attitude and vision Aaron possessed and why he indeed was most qualified for this sacred position.

If one examines the fourth incident, we see a lifeless branch, disconnected from its source and no longer able to produce any fruit. This is how everyone else would see this stick. Not Aaron. Aaron’s staff produces fruit, it showed life!

The stick represented the way Aaron looked at his fellow human being and ever if the entire world had decided to “write off “a person, he was able to look beyond. He was able to see the latent potential in every person. He was able to bring forth life, even when there seemed to be none left.

That is true greatness and leadership. I have heard many stories of great leaders throughout our history who have been able to replicate this type of vision. Stories where teachers or communities had given up on a person and it took the greatness of an Aaron type leader to see past the external of the situation, the external of the person. It took greatness to see inside, to see the soul. It was this type of nurturing that would produce “fruit’ from a seemingly “lifeless stick”!

If this is not a critical message for every parent, teacher, rabbi or politician then I don’t what is. If we adopt the leadership quality and vision of Aaron in the manner in which we treat those who seek our guidance, we will no doubt produce much fruit and success in others.

So the next time you see another person or situation and feel like giving up on them, remember Aaron and how he was able to see beyond  and produce fruit from even the most unlikely source!

Shabbat Shalom!

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