Parshat Korach: Lead Story

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Stormy Seas
26 Jun 2008
Arts & Media

On the maniacal seas of confused hysteria

Winds howl like a worse-for-wear-wolf:

Tidal wave-lengths of despair climb and

Crash in the stand-up-comedy, fall-down-

Tragedy routine that is the strung-out junkie:

Up it rises, down it falls –

Up the barbwire it rises

Down the snake pit it falls –

Climaxing all the way to inevitable wash-up

On the a-shored tombstone in a white, foamy

Poison emulsion bubbling at lip and mouth


Ships sway on the creaky rocking chair perched

Atop unmade waterbed; not in relaxation, in terror:

– Friendships, Flagships, Worships –

Scrawny bodies sinking slow, bony arms flailing fast




The lighthouses have long since been turned into

Tourist attractions and the atlases don’t come in



On these stormy seas, even the Leader Ship has sold out –

Directions are free, they say

You only have to pay Shipping & Handling


It seems we’ve been shipped and handled by the leadership.


Lost and wet, cold and confused on the sea of life –

And not a bona fide leader in site


<i.…the entire assembly

All of them are holy

And within them is G-d

Why do you exalt yourselves

Over the congregation…


Why indeed?


There are leaders and there are leaders:


There are those who churn up stormy seas,

Push people in and charge an arm, leg and

Soul to get them out; men who call themselves

Prophets and they do not fib – indeed how

They profit –

Albeit at another’s heavy expense;

Exploiting scum who create destruction,

Calamity and pain and then beseech the masses

To repent lest they befall destruction, calamity

And pain; selfish slime who degrade humanity

In the holy name of upgrading themselves –


These aren’t leaders; these are misleaders, cowards

Who’d rather see you sink than get themselves wet.


Then there are those who don’t need fancy words or

Fancier titles to describe what they don’t do – pure

People who do what has to be done, who lead because

They cannot stand a child with sad eyes, who’d rather

Weep themselves than see a poor lady cry…


There are those who exalt themselves over the congregation

And there are those who exalt themselves with the congregation


And Korach took…


He took himself to one side,

He separated himself from the

People – is that a leader, a man

Of peace, of unity?


They fell on their faces and said:

“O G-d… shall one man sin and

You be angry with the entire assembly?”


You want to know the sign of a true leader?

One who will argue with G-d for the sake of

His people, one who will help another, bring

Peace to the world even when it’s uncomfortable.

A leader is not someone who wants to, but someone

Who has to, has to make things better, has to change

The world.


Once it’s about you, you aren’t leading;

You are following

Following your own agenda


There is only one Moshe, one Aharon,

But we all must wish to emulate them:

In every sea or scenario, we must

Wish to play a leading role


Today’s leading story may be a stormy current –

But do you wish to follow the current or lead the storm?


Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.