How many times have you heard that from someone? When we are angry or anxious, someone might advise us to take a moment before responding to that rage or worry. It’s good advice. We all have had times in our lives when we have reacted with emotion and instinct, without regard for the consequences of that response. If only we had taken a moment to step away and reflect before responding, we might have avoided the potential fallout.
This is not new advice. We see this idea play out in this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Korach. Moses the consummate leader, displays incredible patience and calm when confronted by Korach and a group of fellow Levites who challenge his legitimacy as the leader of the Israelites.
One day Korach, and about two hundred and fifty Israelites, come to Moses and ask why he has assigned himself the role of leader. Afterall, they too are Levites and therefore just as qualified to lead the people. According to a Midrash, Korach even challenges Moses’ interpretation of the Torah. He makes light of several laws by taking the laws to absurd lengths.
Moses at first burns with anger. But just as he is about to chastise Korah and his rebels, he tells them to go back home and come back the next day. Tomorrow, Moses says, we will hold a competition. Each of us will offer fire up in pans and we will see which of the fires ascends to Heaven and God will decide the true leader.
In doing this, Moses allows himself some time to cool-off. He also allows Korach and his followers some time to think about their actions and consequences.
What an important lesson Moses is teaching all of us, stop and count to ten.
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.