Time And Purpose
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes
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This is the place!
To learn about Korach and his rebellion; To consider the purpose of arguments; To make the most of the time we have
- Sources from Mishna
- Timetable and cut out colored strips of paper
Time and Purpose
Topic: Parashat Korach
Written by: Bnei Akiva of
Age Group: Aleph and Zach
Goals: To learn about Korach and his rebellion; To consider the purpose of arguments; To make the most of the time we have
In this week’s sidra we see Korach, (who we already know from the family tree a few weeks ago, is) Moshe’s first cousin, challenging the leadership. We shall begin by looking at whether this rebellion was valid or whether he was just stirring and follow this through to looking at arguments we have and tie it in with the purpose of life – Hopefully…
Let’s set the scene… Bnei Yisrael are travelling around the midbar and love complaining – all the time. Suddenly this bloke called Korach, who is a bit of a smooth talker starts saying some not very nice things about the leadership and how he was overlooked. Let’s look at what happened.
1) Korach son of Yitzhar (grandson of Kehat and great grandson of Levi) began a rebellion along with Datan and Aviram 9sons of Eliav) and On the son of Pelet, descendants of Reuven. 2) They had a confrontation with Moshe along with 250 Israelites who were men of rank in the community, representatives at the assembly and famous. 3) They demonstrated against Moshe and Aharon and declared to them, “You have gone too far! All the people in the community are holy and G-d is with them. Why are you setting yourself above G-d’s congregation?” 4) When Moshe heard this, he threw himself on his face. 5) Then he spoke to Korach and his whole party. “[Tomorrow] morning,” he said, “G-d [will show that He] knows who is his and who is holy, and He will bring them close to Him. He shall choose those who shall [be allowed to] present [offerings] to Him.” 6) “This is what you must do: Let Korach and his entire party take fire pans. 7) Tomorrow, place fire on them and offer incense on them before G-d. The man who G-d chooses shall then be the holy one. You sons of Levi have also gone too far!” 8) Moshe tried to reason with Korach.” Listen [to what I have to say] you sons of Levi. Isn’t it enough that the G-d of
Why do you think that the lineage of Korach is mentioned?
Do you think Korach had a valid point about Moshe and Aharon setting them above everyone else? Who appointed them?
Do you think Korach’s rebellion was against his cousins or against Hashem?
Moshe then tells everyone to move away from Korach, Datan and Aviram and Moshe tells Bnei Yisrael that if these men die in a normal fashion then Hashem did not send him, but if they die in a completely not normal, out of the ordinary then it is proof that these men provoked Hashem. Just then, “The earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them and their houses, along with all the men that who were with Korach and their property. They fell into the depths along with all that was theirs. The earth covered them over and they were lost to the community.” (Bamidbar 16:32-33)
I think everyone soon realised that Hashem was on Moshe’s side and didn’t mess with him anymore…
As with the whole of Tanach, these aren’t just random stories, but hugely important lessons just waiting to be learnt from! Korach managed to gain so many supporters due to his oratory skills and by twisting the truth, making sensible people rethink their opinions. History has proven time and again that this happens and people can easily become swept up in something. But this does not only occur on a national level, it can be far more simplistic too. How easily can you be swayed? It is vital to always consider both sides to every story and not fall for or follow the well spoken, or cleverest or coolest person. Do you take the easiest path or the one that you feel is correct? I know this is sounding a little harsh, but these are serious issues that we must continuously consider…
What do you really feel passionate about? What are you willing to fight for? Or are you always up for a ruckas?
Arguments are funny little things. They can start over nothing at all and suddenly be blown out of all proportion. People can really get hurt – so why do it? Chazal (our sages) split arguments into 2 categories. Those that are l’shem shamayim (for the sake of heaven) and those that are not.
Any dispute that is for the sake of heaven will have a constructive outcome; but one is not for the sake of heaven will not have a constructive outcome. What sort of dispute was for the sake of heaven? The dispute between Hillel and Shammai. And which was not for the sake of heaven? The dispute of Korach and his entire company. (Pirkei Avot 5:20)
Let’s try to unpick this mishnah slightly. What does ‘l’shem shamayim’ mean? Examples are given to illustrate the point that l’shem shamayim means for a higher cause. When Hillel and Shammai argued, their sole purpose was to understand the exact intricacies of the mitzvot and halachot. However heated the debate became, it was not personal, and they respected each other’s views. Their intention was to work out how best to serve Hashem. Hillel and Shammai were not concerned with triumph rather with a sincere search for truth.
The antithesis of this is the argument of Korach. It is interesting to note that the mishnah brings the example of Korach and his entire company as those had a dispute that was not l’shem shamayim. It does not say whom they were arguing against! The stress being that there was no real quarrel here, just Korach and co trying to get their voices heard through unnecessary means. Their dispute was merely a rebellion against authority and accordingly met a tragic end.
Life is too short to argue. Life is a precious gift to be lived! We all have limited time, so let’s make the most of it!
“Do you realize that you have lived nearly a quarter of your life? An insect which lives only a few days probably feels that its life span is enormous. Perhaps that’s why we believe that we still have an eternity ahead of us.
But man does not live for ever and he should put the days of his life to the best possible use, he should try to live life to the fullest. How to do this I cannot tell you. If I had a clear answer I would have the solution to the puzzle called life.
“I only know that I do not want to look around me when I reach a certain age and suddenly discover that I have created nothing, that I am like all other human beings, who dash about like insects back and forth never accomplishing anything, endlessly repeating the routine of their existence only to descend to their graves leaving behind them progeny that will merely repeat the same nothingness.
“Why am I writing all this to you? Perhaps to protest against your failure to realize that with every passing day you acquire a complete world. Now, this very moment, you have gained something. From every mistake you gain a little. Every single moment of your life is a whole epoch; do you remember Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’? In one of the stanzas he says: “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the earth and all that’s in it…” Because, each and every single minute is made up of seconds and of even briefer fragments of time, then every tiny fragment ought not to be allowed to pass in vain. I must feel that not only at the moment of my death shall I be able to account for the time I have lived; I ought to be ready at every moment of my life to confront myself and say, ‘this is what I have done’.
“Death – that’s the only thing that disturbs me. It doesn’t frighten me; it arouses my curiosity. It is a puzzle that I like many others have tried to solve without success. I do not fear it because I attribute little value to my life without a purpose. If I should have to sacrifice my life to attain its goal I would do so willingly…”
(Extracts from a letter written by Yonni Netanyahu (Bibi’s older brother) who died in the raid on Entebbe in 1976, when he was seventeen.)
Discussion: As Yonni teaches us, we should make the most of the time we have. Rather than taking this in a morbid sense, look at the positive side of life. It is amazing – make the most of it.
Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with £86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.
What would you do? Draw out every penny, of course!!!!
Each of us has such a bank. It’s name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose. It carries over no balance.
It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back. There is no drawing against ‘tomorrow’. You must live in the present, on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today.
To realize the ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a year.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the best friends who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask the person who missed the train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask the person who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have! Treasure it more because you shared it with someone special … special enough to spend your time.
Remember time waits for no one. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present!
This is where our sviva year ends. It has hopefully been an emotional, educational and inspirational experience. Take some time out to consider how much you have given and shared. Thank you for everything! Take this opportunity to relive some of the most fun times with your kvutsah. Remember the past, enjoy the present and build the future. Aloh Na’aleh…
To learn about Korach and his rebellion
· Have a good old shteig and learn from the sources
· Act out the story
To consider the purpose of arguments
· Talk for a minute with a twist – give a chanich/a a random topic to talk for a minute on, whilst everyone else must concentrate on what they are saying. Then ask another chanich/a to argue for a minute about what the first chanich/a said. Make sure they are not making personal comments but are talking about the arguments and opinions given.
· Learn the mishnah to understand the idea of arguments and the two main types of arguments.
· Debates – a debate is basically an organised argument. Debate a couple of arguments with some really random motions, some important perhaps religious motions and some more personal (within reason!). Which get more heated? Which do people take more personally?
To make the most of the time we have
· The minute game
· Read the Yonni extract and the poem – discuss them both and the chanichim’s responses – don’t just read them and leave them hanging.
· Executive adman – this is played in the same way as adman / king of the jungle, but every chair (because when people move around they take on a new position) is a job. The highest is chairman and the lowest is dustman, with lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, firemen etc all featuring in ‘order’. Afterwards ask chanichim to consider their ambitions for the rest of the year, the next five years, the next ten etc. PLEASE consider the fact that some may be shy about revealing dreams and hopes for the future so don’t push them to tell everyone. The point of the exercise is to get them thinking rather than opening up to the kvutsah.
· Make a timetable of a day, and then cut out lots of pieces of a few colours of paper all the same size, and get chanichim to make a chart of how they spend their time, so e.g. red = sleeping, blue = watching TV, yellow = homework and each piece of paper symbolises half an hour. How effectively do we use our time?