by Rabbi Mordechai Fishman
In this week’s Parsha we have the infamous story of Korach and his followers leading an uprising against Moshe Rabbeinu. Dasan and Aviram join Korach in this rebellion and the meforshim seek an explanation for their involvement.
Rashi explains that Shevet Reuven camped next to Shevt Levi, thus putting Dasan and Aviram in close proximity to Korach. As Chazal teach us “Oi l’rasha Oi lscheno”, (woe is to the wicked one and woe unto his neighbor). Rashi explains that since Dasan and Aviram camped near Korach they got caught up in the uprising and joined Korach. Others explain, that up until this point Shevet Reuven were hoping that they too would have a part in the service in the Beis HaMikdash as it was originally destined to be. However, with the appointment of Aharon and his children it became apparent that only Shevet Levi would be doing the Avoda.
We all know that in Mitzrayim (Rashi on Shemos 2:13) and continuing on in the midbar (Rashi Shemos 16:20), Dasan and Aviram were at the forefront when trouble arose. It would seem that when trouble brewed Dasan and Aviram could be found at the helm. Yet, when we find them joining Korach’s uprising the meforshim look to find a reason why they joined. It would seem that we can easily discount their behavior by saying that they are rabble rousers with a long rap sheet. Often when someone has a track record of causing disturbances we attribute their behavior to “that’s how they are”.
We see from the meforshim that they didn’t want to automatically attribute Dasan and Aviram’s joining Korach to “that’s how they are”, and instead they look to see what the underlying cause was in this specific incident.
As parents and educators, it is easy to discount a child’s behavior to “that’s how they are”. It takes greater effort to stop and ask ourselves what can be the underlying cause for this specific incident. Rashi and the meforshim are teaching us to never take a child or student’s behavior for granted based on their personality, past dispositions or past behaviors. It behooves us to look into the root of the current incident and try to understand what caused this action.
Rabbi Mordechai Fishman serves as Rav of Tzeirei Agudas Yisroel of Passaic and Menahel/Principal of Be’er Hagolah Institutes. Rabbi Fishman also serves as a crisis counselor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.