Posted on Jul 6, 2016 | 0 comments

Tammuz 3, 5776
July 9, 2016
Korach: Numbers 16:1 – 18:32


Samuel I 11:14 – 12:22

Oh my….here we go – This parsha (reading) is about a rebel named Korach who decides to one up Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership and set up a challenge for them. Korach gets a couple of other foes of Moses, Dathan and Abiram from the tribe of Reuben but he gets 250 leaders of Israel to join them!  Because of their intent to thwart the leadership and thumb their nose at the Holy One of Israel for his decision in appointing Moses and Aaron, disaster was sure to happen.

It’s a sad story – but it is important to understand the significance of what happened so long ago in that desert. The people that tried to challenge Moses’ leadership were standing in indignation and jealousy and the results of that challenge were disastrous. It was filled with all the drama of a great 5 star movie!

Who was this Korach anyway? Well, he was from the tribe of Levi (remember, so was Aaron) and a lot of prestige was bestowed upon him as he was given the honor of helping the Kohanim (priests) carry the parts of the Mishkan while the Israelites traveled. He was also the cousin of Moses, the son of Yitzhar who was the brother of their father Amram (16:1). However, like many today they feel that they should be in leadership and then will challenge the authority of many that are set in place by the Holy One himself.

So what was his grievance and why did he feel  he needed to challenge Moses? Well, he wanted Aaron’s job and felt he was entitled to it – he wanted to be the high priest.  He felt that the position of high priest should have gone to him instead of both leadership roles housed in one single family.

After all the Israelite had been through, after all the miracles, why would anyone choose to throw in with Korach? Well, if we look at the ones who joined ranks with him, we’ll get an idea of why they chose to follow him. First of all, he surely couldn’t expect much help from his own tribe, as the other Levites had nothing to gain by joining in on the rebellion. So what does he do? He goes out and starts spreading gossip and slander and gathers others who have a grudge against the leadership. His allies were Dathan and Aviram, and “250 Israelites who were men of rank within the community, representatives at the assembly, and famous.”  According to the Torah Sheleimah “Dathan and Aviram were the ones who forced Moses to flee from Egypt (by informing on him to Pharaoh that he killed an Egyptian overseer. They were the ones who hurled harsh words at Moses and Aaron in Egypt. They were the ones who left over from the manna (in defiance of Moses’ instructions) and went out to gather the manna on Shabbat . And they joined in Korach’s mutiny.”

The Reubenites (of which Dathan and Aviram were of) were aggrieved that as descendants of Jacob’s firstborn, they had no special leadership roles. According to Ibn Ezra, the 250 “men of rank” were upset that, after the sin of the Golden Calf, leadership had passed from the firstborn within each tribe to the single tribe of Levi.

So, basically, Korach had a grudge to bear and he looked for others who agreed with him. That’s just the way it was then…and that’s the way it is now.  So Korach had his own ‘army’ and he wanted what he wanted when he wanted it – and he was determined to go out and get it! He was ready to take Aaron’s job as high priest by force. As the steam began to build up in the rebels and the discontent spread profusely among the ranks they wanted to prove they were the ones that should lead. They  prepared an offering of Ketoret (which was the most prestigious and sacred of the services in the Holy Temple) to bring in the Mishkan. Aaron does the same.  They stand outside the tabernacle after the offering and then the disaster happens – the earth swallows up the rebels! The Holy One has spoken!

Everyone learned a lesson; Moses and Aaron were the divinely appointed leaders of Israel during this time. They were the ones with the ‘job‘, the ‘mission‘, the ‘vision‘. And many a message has been preached about how not to challenge a leader.  As long as we live in an imperfect world, we will continue to have a hierarchy and there will forever be alpha struggles.  It is what it is.

Torah is open to all who  have a heart and desire to know truth. It has no age, gender, or race estrictions for those who will open her cover and soak up the words of life.  Studying and pondering on the many mysteries held within her covers will certainly bestow a crown on all those who seek wisdom from the living words of the one true God. So until the Messiah returns, we will always have a Korach among us. Let us study the words of LIFE together –  all being equal in our desire to show ourselves approved.

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