The Rebbe once said, “Either you will affect your environment, or your environment will affect you. There is no middle ground.” In this week’s parsha of Korach, an charismatic person (Korach) tried to take control of the temple of Israel in opposition to Aaron. He persuaded 250 other prominent Israelites to join him. According to the text, they all paid for it with their lives.
Popular public opinion can be very persuasive. For young people, peer pressure is enormous – but even adults feel pressured to conform to popular opinion. But is this the best source for our values? Do we put our values up for popular vote and let other people determine for us what they are based on a majority vote? Do we let our environment control us or do we affect our environment?
As Jews we are given a source of values and wisdom to rely on – the Torah. The Torah, and the rabbis, were not right about everything, but there is true wisdom in their writings. Rather than have popular TV shows, movies, music or other cultural media tell us what values to have – we have a better source. Human nature does not change and this is why writings that are thousands of years old can still be truth for the 21st Century. Wisdom is wisdom – no matter how long ago it was written.
Don’t let your environment dictate your values. Instead, have your values influence your environment to do good.