Losing Gracefully

Numbers Hizkuni: Korach

Losing Gracefully

A child loses while playing a board game. In a fit of fury he flips over the board, sending the pieces flying in different directions. If such reactions repeat themselves, other children learn not to play with the petulant child. The child grows to be lonely, avoided, socially inadequate and ruled by his passions and anger.

In the power play between Korach’s followers and Moses a similar struggle unfolds. Rabbi Hizkiyahu ben Manoach (Hizkuni) explains that Korach’s group were nothing more than sore losers.

Hizkuni wonders as to the identity of the rest of Korach’s esteemed assembly. He answers that they were none other than Firstborns who had lost the honor and responsibility of serving in the Tabernacle. These Firstborns wanted to flip the board, scatter the pieces and reclaiming the role they had lost. Their inability to lose gracefully led them to an unnecessary and damning confrontation.

Winning rarely comes easy, but a clear prerequisite to winning at all is to know how to lose first.

May we be on the winning side of things, but when not, may we take it well.

Shabbat Shalom,



To pitcher Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers. As reported, he threw a ‘perfect game’ but his amazing achievement was ruined by an erroneous call by the umpire. He nevertheless kept his cool. That’s the making of a real winner.

Leave a Reply