Aaron, the first High Priest of the Jewish people, was renowned for his efforts to make peace between his fellow Jews ( “Be among the disciples of Aaron, love peace and pursue peace…”- Ethics of the Fathers 1:12). It is said that he would even use little white lies in order to draw two people into a reconciliation.
Although the Torah ideal is that everyone should “love your fellow as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), we do not yet live in a utopian world. And while most people do try to avoid confrontation, there are, of course, some people who are naturally quarrelsome.
The Torah is full of “life lessons” and, according to the Midrash Rabbah, persisting in a quarrel is a serious transgression:
“Reish Lakish said: …it may be inferred that one should not persist in a quarrel. Rab said: Any one who persists in a quarrel transgresses the commandment: ‘one should not be like Korach, and like his company’ (Numbers 17:5). He deserves, says Rabbi Assi, to be smitten with leprosy” (Numbers Rabbah 18:20).
Korach was a cousin of Moses, who was upset that Aaron was appointed High Priest. His pretense for creating a larger quarrel was that the sons of Amram were taking all of the leadership roles for themselves. (Remember, God instructed Moses to anoint Aaron.) Korach rallied 250 followers to stage a protest. In the end, he and his followers were felled by Divine wrath.
People argue when they disagree, when they are jealous, when they are hurt or sometimes for reasons that they later cannot recall. If an argument cannot be avoided, it is important to make an effort to reconcile or even to just let go of the argument. After all, there is no greater force in the world than shalom, peace.
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