By Moshe Feiglin
And they gathered upon Moses and Aaron and they said to them, ‘It is too much for you, for all the congregation is holy and G-d is among them, and why should you lord over the congregation of G-d?’ (From this week’s Torah portion, Korach, Numbers 16:3).
Korach’s struggle against Moses and Aaron was the classic power struggle. A leader rises who is determined and delineates a goal. He is an exemplary role model and leads the people successfully. Nevertheless, some people are dissatisfied and question his authority. “Why should you lord over us?” Korach and his assembly ask Moses and Aaron. “True, you strive for a lofty goal, but your motivation is nothing more than power driven arrogance.” What is wrong with them? Didn’t they see what happened to the king of the only superpower in the world (Pharaoh) when he dared to defy Moses? What did they see that we can’t see?
The answer is simple. They didn’t see anything because they were blinded by the strongest of all human drives: the drive for power.
The uninitiated cannot understand this. A person who has not tasted the taste of power – someone for whom the safety catch on the power grenade has never been pulled – cannot comprehend just how strong this drive is. But people are willing to die for power; they are willing to kill their children and their wives to achieve it. The human race has experienced no stronger drive.
In order to ensure the continuity of life, the Creator embedded the drive for procreation in both humans and animals. And to ensure the continuity of human society, the Creator created an even stronger drive; the power drive. There is no society without leadership and few would be willing to assume the weight of the community on their shoulders without the motivation fostered by this drive. Without the drive for power, human society would return to a state of chaos.
Just as we cannot give birth without the drive to procreate, so we cannot lead without the drive for power. The challenge is not how to eliminate it, but rather, to serve G-d with all our hearts. In other words, to enlist both our good inclination – the aspiration for liberty and responsibility – and our evil inclination – the aspiration for power, to achieve our goals. The good inclination must lead and chart out the course, the framework and the rules, while the drive for power must provide the energies necessary to succeed.