The Challenge of Wealth
Yael Eckstein | June 30, 2022
…and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. — Numbers 16:32
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Korach, which means “Korah,” from Numbers 16:1–18:32.
A story is told about a Jewish town where there was one very wealthy man, by far the wealthiest person in the town. But rather than use his great resources to benefit the community, the man instead just threw money around in search of power and honor.
Even when he gave charity, it was only with the condition that he would be publicly honored. Soon, he controlled all the local institutions, and the rest of the community felt that they had no say in any local matters. Any disagreement was ignored.
The rabbi of the town decided to pay the wealthy man a visit. After entering the man’s office, the rabbi pointed out the window and asked the man, “What do you see?” The man replied, “I see the world.”
The rabbi then took the man to a mirror and asked, “What do you see?” The man replied, “I see myself.” “That,” said the rabbi, “is what happens when silver covers glass. Instead of seeing the world you see only yourself.”
The Challenge of Wealth
In this week’s Torah portion, we see the challenge of wealth — how wealth can blind people and make them self-centered. If we’re not careful, wealth can lead us to believe we’re more important or worthy than others. That certainly was true about Korah.
Korah led a rebellion against Moses. He objected to the leadership of Moses and to Aaron’s position as high priest. The fact that it was Moses who led the children of Israel out of Egypt and it was Moses to whom God spoke directly on Mount Sinai meant nothing to Korah.
As punishment for his rebellion, God caused the earth to open up and swallow Korah, his followers, and all their possessions. As we read, “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community” (Numbers 16:32-33).
After stating that “all their possessions” were swallowed with them, the Bible repeats this by saying, “with everything they owned.” Based on this repetition, Jewish tradition teaches that Korah was, in fact, the wealthiest man in Israel. His riches blinded him. Korah thought that he, not Moses, should be the leader of Israel based on his wealth. That’s why he rebelled.
Wealth is a blessing. But wealth is also a challenge. We must never allow material blessings to blind us. We must use what God has given us to improve the lives of others and to bring honor to Him, not to ourselves.
Honor God by using the gifts He has given you to bless the lives of the needy. Sow into the work of The Fellowship today.