Arguments vs Discussions

Teaching the IKI Krav Maga approach to gun defense, Sardinia, Italy 

Life is a learning process, hopefully. Many years ago a rabbi told me, Don't confuse logic with the issue. What does this mean? It means someone can be arguing with you but he is really not arguing. The topic of the argument is not what matters, what matters is he is angry or hurt. Thus, addressing only the logic in the topic is futile. You can use all the logic in the world but he will not be mollified. In fact the more logic you use, the angrier he will become. The issue is not what he is arguing about, the issue is something else, deeper, outside this discussion. 

For example, a guy comes into the bank, Yes, I used to work in a bank and this is another bank lesson, and he is steaming mad. He does not see money in his account that was wired to him from another bank, and he is very angry, he wants to see the manger and heads will roll, etc. 

OK, take a deep breath, (speaking to myself, not to Mr. Angry). Understand, this is not so much about the money, there is another issue here. Perhaps his wife just left him, perhaps someone smashed into his car, perhaps he was just informed that his mother-in-law is moving in with him, whatever, he is angry. Don't argue with him, don't "convince" him with logic that the money is indeed in his account but he failed to look at the correct dates or column. Don't explain to him that someone used the wrong bank code, etc. Understand that you need to be kind to him. It is OK to take the blame for the bank and assure him that the manager has been notified, Scotland Yard and the FBI and the Israeli Mossad are all on the case, and yes, we can assure you that you will get your money. The issue is not the transaction, the issue is he wants to be treated with respect.

Arguments are futile, they lead to nothing but anger. Just look on Facebook, has anyone ever won an argument? Have the Vegans converted the meat eaters? Have the Pro-Israel group converted the Anti-Israel group? Have the Evangelists caused the Atheists to "see the light"? 

I don't think so. 

But Discussions are good. Discussion leads to knowledge and wisdom. I am part of a discussion group on the Yiddish language and I learning interesting facts every day. 

And today I was reading the Torah for the upcoming synagogue reading (next week) and I revisited the story of Korah. 

For those who find the Bible irrelevant to modern times, well, I will attach a link to my book at the end of this blog. If you are a believer or not, the Bible is still very relevant to our daily lives. There is a reason it is the best selling book of all time.

So we read about Korah and his followers, one of the most tragic stories of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah. It is about an argument that ended badly, tragically, with 250 people being swallowed alive by the earth and many others being burnt alive. What happened and why? 

Korah as an important man and he was in fact a relative to Moshe/Moses. 

1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dothan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men

2 and they rose up in face of Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty men; they were princes of the congregation, the elect men of the assembly, men of renown;

These were important people. Korah, however, was jealous of Moshe and felt that Moshe had too much power. In fact Moshe had no power at all, he was simply following God's instructions. Moshe could not make any decisions on his own. In fact Moshe is recorded as having been the most humble of all men. 

When Moshe was confronted with this challenge, he fell "upon his face". He was so distraught that matters had come to this point. Moshe leaves the matter up to God and instructs to appear the following morning; 

 6 This do: take you censors, Korah, and all his company, 7 and put fire therein, and put incense upon them before the LORD to-morrow; and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy; ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.'

but then Moshe added a personal note; Hear now sons of Levi, (and Moshe too was a son of Levi, so he is bringing in the family ties, perhaps reminding them, we are all family here). Is it not enough that the God of Israel has set you apart, as Levites, from the entire community of Israel, to bring you near to Him, to perform the service for the Sanctuary of the Eternal God...? He has also distinguished you, Korah and your brothers, the sons of Kohath above the other sons of Levi to transport the holiest vessels of the Sanctuary, and now you also want to be the Cohen? (Book of Number, Chapter 16)

But this logical argument did not work, for their rebellion was not about logic or facts, it was about ego. And now Korah responds. 

It is noteworthy that he uses the same words of Moshe, but twists them around. Moshe, in the Hebrew, uses the word, Me'at, Is it not enough? (is it too little?) i.e. is what God has given you too little for you? Now Korah says, Ha Me'at, is it not enough, i.e. Have you Moshe not done enough harm that you took us out of Egypt, where things were just great, a land flowing with milk and honey and you brought us out to this horrible life in the desert where we will surely meet our death, but beyond that you also have become a tyrant over us?!  Moshe, are you trying to blind the eyes of these people to the true facts. We will no longer follow you.

Wow. Can you imagine how Moshe must have felt. He never wanted this job but God insisted. And now he led the people out of slavery and suffering. He brought them to freedom, they are on their way to the Promised Land, God has provided them with food and protection all along, and now they are totally twisting everything around and accusing poor Moshe of being a dictator!! Outrageous. 

And if fact they managed to upset Moshe, the calmest, most humble of all men, "Moshe was very upset, and he said to God, 'do not accept their offerings which they are about to present tomorrow, they accuse me of abuse of authority, I have never taken from them even one donkey for my public use, neither have I hurt any of them.'" (Chapter 16, verse 15)

God then ordered Moshe and his brother Aharon to step aside so that He can destroy the Rebels, but Moshe and Aharon, despite all they had been falsely accused of, prayed for mercy for the wrong-doers. "Shall you be an angry against an entire group when only one man is guilty?"  (i.e. Korah is the only guilty one, the others were just influenced by him).

Moshe then announced that the death shall come by unnatural means, and thus all shall know that this is not he doing of Moshe, but of God himself. 

As Moshe finished speaking, the earth indeed opened up and swallowed Korah and his two cohorts along with their families and possessions, never to be seen again. At the same time, a heavenly fire went forth and consumed the 250 incense-bearers, who supported Korah. 

This is indeed a tragic story. The lesson, don't confuse logic with the issue, Korah was ambitious, we are told he was very wealthy and he was clearly very important, and yet, it bothered him that Moshe had more influence. For the sake of his ego he destroyed himself, his family, and all his followers. Ego is a deadly virus. 



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