Monday, July 4 I wrote about this parashah, and about how fear of the Lord is not the same as being afraid of the Lord. This parashah is the story of what my Chumash calls “The Great Mutiny”, when Korach (a Levite), Dathan and Abiram (Reubenites) came together, and under Korach’s leadership gathered 250 men- righteous, respected leaders- from the 12 Tribes and led them in rebellion against Moses and Aaron. The reason was to discredit Moses as the one God choose to be in charge by accusing him of taking on too much responsibility, and by association also accuse Aaron of doing the same by being the only person allowed to offer fire before Adonai.
I can’t do this story justice repeating it, and if you don’t know it you really need to read it. Spoiler alert!– Dathan and Abiram (who refused to go before the Tent of Meeting with the others) were destroyed right in their own tents, swallowed up by the earth, and the others in front of the Tabernacle offering incense met their fate as Aaron’s sons, Abihu and Nadab, met theirs- consumed by God’s fire.
The people, after they stopped running around screaming in abject horror and fear for their own lives, came against Moses again the very next day (Again? How long will they remain stupid, right?) and accused him, Moses, of killing God’s people! Well, that pissed the Lord off so much that as He was telling Moses how He was going to destroy them, a plague already started, and Moses had to tell Aaron to take fire from the alter and incense, run in the midst of the people (now remember there is a plague killing people right where Aaron is running to) and stop the plague. Aaron risked his life to help people that were there to stone him.
There is more to the story, and near the end all the people cry out that they are all going to die if they even come near the Tabernacle.
These people may have looked like they were made of skin and bone, but they were really made out of Polytetrafluoroethylene. You may know it better as….Teflon.
Teflon people, like the frying pans and cooking pots, never have anything “stick” to them. They have been in the desert for 2 years, they have seen God destroy Egypt with miracles and wonders, they have seen Him split open the sea, they have received water from rocks and manna from the sky, birds enough for a million people to eat for a month and a pillar of fire every night and a cloud leading them every day.
Yet all they know is that they were told to stone a man to death for collecting sticks on the Shabbat, Aaron’s sons, Korach and 250 leading members of their nation were burned alive, Abiram and Dathan with their entire families were swallowed up by the earth, they were struck with a deadly plague and to top it all off- they are not going to get the land they were promised. And who do they blame for all this T’souris? Moses and Aaron.
Oy! What a bunch of Meshuggahs!
The real reason all these terrible things happened is because they sinned: the man collecting sticks on Shabbat showed irreverence and rejection of God’s commandment, Aaron’s sons refused to follow Adonai’s orders about worship, Korach and all his associates refused to accept God’s authority and choose to follow a man (Korach) instead, and the people, well, the people just rebelled against God over and over. They complained about no meat when they had provisions from God that met their needs, they complained about no water, and they refused to take the land God gave them (then, after being told they were not allowed in, they tried to get in, anyway.) These people all earned their punishment, and proved over and over that their repentance was superficial and not really heart-felt. Their T’Shuva, turning from sin, was not a 180 degree turn- it went a full 360 degrees so they ended up going in the same direction that got them into trouble in the first place.
Teflon people are the hardest to work with, and the slowest to learn because, as the name implies, nothing “sticks” to them, i.e., they take no responsibility for their actions and are not accountable, in their minds, for what they do and say. As such, how can they ever learn anything?
I think we all have a little Teflon in us; I confess that there are many times I do something wrong or make a mistake and I would like to redirect the blame somewhere else, to someone else. I feel that way because I am a sinner and sinners don’t like to ‘fess up’ to their wrongdoing. But I also have the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, indwelling which reminds me and admonishes me to accept the blame and not just confess, but ask for forgiveness. And more than that, it convicts me of my errors and when someone else does wrong to me it forces me to forgive them. That is the only reason I do anything that pleases God- it is because of His spirit in me, not because of who I am.
His spirit in me doesn’t make me a different me, it just makes me a better me.
We all have to deal with Teflon people, mainly because there are just so many of them out there. The best way to deal with them is not to waste your time trying to convince them or change them. What we, as Believers, should do is show them how to act in a way that is pleasing to God. If they throw their problems at you because they know things stick to you, you need to be gentle as doves and wise as serpents to CYA in everything you do so that when they throw stuff at you it bounces off your shields.
Daniel was upright and just in all he did, which is why the Satraps trying to trap him could only do so by fooling the king into making a law regarding something they knew Daniel did which was a righteous thing in and of itself (Daniel Chapter 6.) I’m not saying we can all be like Daniel- I know I sure ain’t gonna be that righteous, ever- but we can follow his example.
Teflon people are out there, everywhere, and they need to find someone who is stickier than they are. That would be you and me, because the Ruach haKodesh makes us accountable. And when you feel unjustly accused or you are in trouble for something you know isn’t your fault, accept it with humility and trust that God will justify you, sooner or later.
These Teflon people will one day come before the judgment of the Lord; He will strip off their Teflon and leave them with raw, unprotected skin that will have the lemon juice of their sins poured on it by the gallon. They will be held accountable for what they never felt accountable for, and they won’t be able to do anything about it.
Brothers and Sisters, all we should feel for these poor, ignorant sheep is pity.