Rabbi Sydni's Shabbat Sermons

פרשת קרח, תש״פ

Parshat Korah, 5780

by Rabbi Sydni

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

A Psalm from the Depths - Of the Sons of Korach

Korah’s sons are often seen in the Rabbinic tradition as beacons of repentance, piety, and wisdom. In this week’s parashah, these sons are swallowed into the earth for associating with their father in his rebellion against Moses and Aaron. Rather than sulking there for the rest of eternity, Midrash teaches, Korah’s sons have spent their thousands of years since sharing wisdom and praise with the people Israel through a little crack in the ground. Tonight, I’ll recite a compilation made up of pieces of the seven Psalms they have contributed to our book of 150. These sons of Korah have their works displayed next to those of the renowned King David, highlighting our tradition’s insistence on encouraging and lauding instances of teshuvah, even among the most rebellious of our people. As anyone grappling with teshuvah, with repentance, they alternate between emotions of despair, of hope, and of joyful praise, creating inspiration out of the depths.

For the leader: Of the sons of Korach, a song, a piece of wisdom

Oh God, in our ears, we have heard - our ancestors have told us - the deeds you performed in their days, in days of old (44:26)

Wake up! Why do you sleep, Lord? Wake up! Do not reject us forever!

Why do You hide Your face, ignoring our affliction and distress?

We lie prostrate in the dust; our body clings to the ground.

Arise and help us, redeem us, as befits your faithfulness (44:24-27)

[Our ancestors said:] God is our refuge and stronghold, a help in trouble, very near.

Therefore, we are not afraid, though the earth reels, though mountains topple into the sea.

Its waters rage and foam; in its swell mountains quake (46:2-4)

God puts a stop to wars throughout the earth, breaking the bow, snapping the spear, consigning wagons to the flames

“Desist! Realize that I am God! I dominate the nations; I dominate the earth”

Adonai of armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our haven. (46:10-12)

In times of trouble, why should I fear the encompassing evil of those who would supplant me - men who trust in their riches, who glory in their great wealth?

Wealth cannot redeem a person, or pay his ransom to God;

The price of life is too high; and so one ceases to be, forever (49:6-7).

But God will redeem my life from the hands of Sheol, for God will take me (49:16).

All you peoples, clap your hands, raise a joyous shout for God (47:2)

God chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob, whom God loved. (47:5)

Sing, sing to God! Sing to our sovereign! (47:7)

For this is God - our eternal God, our constant leader. (48:15)

The praise of You, God, like Your name, reaches to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is filled with justice (48:11)