Friday, June 27, 2008

X-rays and the parasha.

So Blogger has unleashed a fancy new set of features, ranging from inline/embedded comments (i.e.: no pop-up window for commenting) to a star-rating system to a fancy new post editor system. I'm trying out the Blogger draft setup ( to see how I like it and see if the new system (which looks nice) is all buggy or fully functioning.

I've been mostly MIA this week, being full with the sickness and all. I went back to the doctor yesterday because of some breathing difficulties I was having. While there the doctor had me get some chest x-rays, because she was worried I might be developing pneumonia (which I've never had). Her overall plan, though, was to treat me for a bronchial infection and just keep tabs on how it progresses. I'm now doing up Allegra-D, some pain killers for the off-and-on jaw/neck/ear pain, an Albuterol inhaler every three hours, and some oral antibiotics for the infection. I've missed four whopping days of work this week while trying to put myself on a schedule of sleep and rest and medicine, but it just hasn't worked out well. I'm not much for sleeping upright, and laying down immediately gives me the sensation that someone has plopped down on my chest for some R&R. I'll stop the kvetching now, but I just wanted to keep an update going in case anyone out there in Blogger land is interested. I'm hoping that by Monday I'll be well enough (and able to breathe normally) that I can return to work. I feel like such a pansy.

Then, since I'm in a rather standing-still state, I decided to sit down with the Torah portion this week -- Korach. The thing of it is, every time I sit down to study Torah these days, I just can't focus. I don't know if it's because I'm in a minor state of flux and that my mind is constantly racing into topics outside the pages of my chumash or what, but it often feels like I'm reading gibberish. I went over to -- my source for all things parashot and educational -- and instantly got distracted by this incredibly moving story of a Holocaust survivor and the tree stump that saved his life (not to mention the righteous gentile who assisted in the saving). But knowing I need to focus, I flip back over to the parshah and hope for the best. I click around on the various articles and gleanings and I still can't manage to get through a single one. So I end up on Wikipedia, reading about Korach and how in Genesis there was also a Korach who rebelled against Israel, and this Korach was the son of Esau.

Then I'm off, Googling my way around the interweb, trying to focus myself once again. I end up over on Kolel's Parasha Study, where I read something interesting that gets me thinking,
Korach and his followers challenge Moshe and Aharon's authority to lead the people by claiming that the entire Israelite community was equally holy. Korach's claim seems to be that nobody is on a higher spiritual level than anybody else, so why should Moshe and Aharon be in charge? Moshe responds by inviting Korach to a public test, to see whom God has chosen, and also by rebuking Korach for not being satisfied with the ritual role the Levites have already been given as ritual assistants in the Mishkan.
This is the p'shat explanation of the Torah portion, meaning that it's the most simple, plain meaning of the text. It got me thinking because, well, we aren't living in biblical times and it seems that for the most part we're on a level playing field. The Hasidim have their rebbes, who are most definitely not on a level playing field with your average rabbi or Torah scholar, but for the most part, there is no Moses or Aaron in the modern period. It makes me wonder how Korach would fair today with his argument that the entire community is holy. I know that the tale of Korach goes a lot further than this (how one strives and becomes holy, etc.), but at the p'shat level, we have no tests today for who is more holy or less holy than another. So what do you think, are we all on a level playing field? Or does something make one Jew holier than another?