Torah Tidbits

What Would Elie Wiesel Have Said? headshot white 2015cropped

Shabbat Parashat Korach

July 9, 2016 – 3 Tammuz 5776

Dear Friends,

It is so ironic that shortly after the passing of Elie Wiesel, we are witnessing the effects of violence, unchecked, in our midst. The unfolding stories of Minnesota, Louisiana, and now of Dallas, Texas, loom over us, exposing a very real and a very disturbing side of our life in the United States.

I find myself wondering: What would Elie Wiesel have said?

Elie Wiesel bore witness to the horrors of the Holocaust. But that was not all. He spoke out against the ongoing phenomenon of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and in Darfur. To my mind, the roots of genocide lie in the dehumanization of others.

Dehumanization first and foremost cuts off lines of respectful dialogue. It deters efforts to sustain healthy interaction among people of diverse backgrounds. It threatens the future of our society.

I imagine that Elie Wiesel would have empathized with every life lost as a result of the process of dehumanization. I imagine that he would have called us to action.

In our weekly Torah portion, Korach, we read of Moses, who when confronted with the rebellion of Korach and his cohorts, invited his opposition to dialogue with him face to face. Sadly, the response to Moses’ invitation was: “Lo na’aleh” [We shall not rise to the occasion. We shall not meet with you] (Numbers 16:12). From there on, the situation deteriorated and the violence escalated. How different might the future have been, had Korach and his cohorts accepted the invitation to sit down face to face with Moses and to have an honest conversation?!

As we go forward, may we recognize and resist the tendency to dehumanize others. May we be open to heartfelt communication and to honest dialogue. May the unchecked violence erupting around us abate. And, may our thoughts and actions lead to greater peace and to better understand among all people!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror