For Heaven’s Sake

As you know, I like to leave religious teachings to our rabbis and focus my articles on lighter topics. But, this week’s Parsha, Korach, contains one of my favorite lessons, and one I wish that more of our politicians would heed.
We learn in The Ethics of our Fathers that “an argument for the sake of Heaven will endure, but an argument not for the sake of Heaven will not endure. What is an argument for the sake of Heaven? The argument between Hillel and Shammai. What is an argument not for the sake of Heaven? The argument of Korach and his company.”
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, ztz”l explains that there are two possible goals of an argument. We can argue for the sake of truth, or we can argue for the sake of victory. Hillel and Shammai clearly argued in pursuit of the truth, using each other to better understand God’s teachings. Both sides win. After two millennia, we continue to study their arguments.
Korach’s rebellion is another story. Korach and his followers rebelled against Moses and Aaron not in pursuit of truth, but rather to take over the leadership reigns. The Hofetz Hayim warned that Korach let anger, jealousy, and envy consume him as he attacked Moses’ character, not his leadership ability.
We understand this concept in the secular world as well, with sayings like, “When you resort to name-calling, you’ve already lost the argument.” Or, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”
How does the story of Korach end? **Spoiler Alert** The earth opened up and swallowed Korach and his followers.