For the week of June 16, 2007 / 30 Sivan 5767
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 16:1-18:32; 28:9-15
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24; 1 Samuel 20:18,42


Do We Dare Dream?

Moses also said to Korah, "Now listen, you Levites! Isn't it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD's tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?" (Bemidbar / Numbers 16:8-11).

How do you like your position in life? Do you love it? Do you hate it? Maybe you never think about it. Maybe you think about it all the time. Do you have a dream? Do you dare dream? I hear a lot about daring to dream. Some people think that everyone has a dream - that each and every person deep inside has a yearning to do some great significant thing. Some people call it a destiny, a chosen path that we need to find in order to become all we were intended to be.

As for realizing those dreams or finding our destiny, some say that we can do anything, if we would only put our minds to it - that there's nothing we can't do, if we want it badly enough.

I don't know if that's how the Torah sees it, however. Were the Israelites stuck in oppressive bondage for all those years just because they all failed to want freedom badly enough? Then there was Moses. He was a man of destiny alright. How else can we explain his adoption by Pharaoh's daughter after being left in the Nile to die? We also know he was a man of destiny, because we know the rest of the story. It seems that he knew that he was a man of destiny early on. He had a dream of delivering his people from their bondage. But his dream became a nightmare when he killed an Egyptian, his people rejected his help, Pharaoh sought his life, and he ended up living forty years of his life as a fugitive in the wilderness.

Do you think he held on to his dream all those years? By the time God called him to the task, it doesn't look like it. He resisted the call of God, who had to persuade him to fulfill his destiny. This doesn't sound like the stuff of motivation seminars to me.

Now let's look at a real dreamer. His name is Korah. His heart's desire was to be in the inner circle of the spiritual life of Israel. As a Levite, he was born into a certain level of spiritual privilege, but he wanted more. He wanted to be a priest (Hebrew: cohen), just like Aaron and his sons. Where did his dream get him? The earth swallowed him up. So much for dreams. Perhaps he had a subterranean destiny. Perhaps not.

I don't know if everyone has a dream or a destiny. We read about many people in the Bible who did. Besides Moses, there was Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel, David, Solomon, and others. But everybody? Some people have dramatic encounters with God through dreams and visions. Others, like Korah are simply born into their calling. Perhaps the burning in your heart is the fire of God calling you to great things, maybe it's your discontent. How do we know?

God knows. I don't think there is any easy way to figure this out, but God knows. All we can do is be open to him - although even when we aren't, we may have a Moses experience. But unless we submit ourselves to God and entrust our lives to him, we may end up with a Korah experience.

The key? Here are the words of a dreamer, Solomon:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Mishlei / Proverbs 3:5,6)

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