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    Meritocracy – Korach

    The death of Korah, by Gustave Dore

    Rashi asks, “Why was Korach in conflict with Moses? He was jealous of the status of Elitzafan ben Uzziel”.

    Elitzafan had been appointed prince over the tribe of K’hat, and Korach resented it, even though the appointment had been made by the express command of God (Num. 3:30).

    Korach argued, “My father and his brothers were four in number” (Amram, Yitzhar, Hevron and Uzziel: Ex. 6:18); “Amram’s two sons, Moses and Aaron, have high rank. Who should come next in status? I, the son of Yitzhar, the second brother. Yet he has appointed the son of the youngest brother!”

    If all that counted was who your father was, Korach would have had a case, but a meritocracy does not necessarily work that way. There are other cases in the Bible in which a younger son receives preferment over an older one, and since God made the decisions it is clear that the Divine policy is that a job should go to the person who is best qualified. This is very hard on the person who has been passed over.

    The ideal way of handling one’s disappointment is suggested by the story of Alexander the Great. When raised to high rank, Alexander was young and felt that every possible battle had already been fought and won by others. What was left for him to do? His answer was, “There must still be victories for me to win!”

    So it is with someone who does not achieve the position he or she dreamt of. There are still victories they can win. Everyone can find an arena that can draw out their talents and enable them to record their own victories.

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