Where Do We Stand? Reflections on Korach
Thales is usually known as the 6th Century BCE philosopher who coined the phrase; “Know thyself.” He also famously predicted the solar eclipse of 585 BCE.
He once asked to be taken outdoors by a Thracian girl so he could continue his brilliant study of the heavens. She took him outside and he fell into a ditch as he was studying the stars. On hearing his cry, she said, “How can you expect to know about all the heavens, Thales, when you cannot even see what is just beneath your feet?”
I used to wonder why Moshe chose that the earth swallow Korach and his followers. Perhaps Thales’ Thracian girl has the key: Korach and his group wanted to soar to the heavens, even if their journey meant that they would have to challenge Moses, the man who had lived in the heavens. I can hear the girl challenging Korach; “How can you expect to know about all the heavens, Korach, when you cannot even see what is just beneath your feet?”
I often meet people who are so focused on the heavens, a.k.a. their spiritual lives, that they forget to see the earth beneath their feet. Picture the man slamming a door in the face of someone else so they can kiss the Mezuzah. (The story was recently twitted to me.) We are making the same mistake as Korach and Thales when we ignore others in order to soar closer to God.
We cannot afford to forget the three thousand year old question of a young Thracian girl: How can you expect to know about all the heavens when you cannot even see what is just beneath your feet?”
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