Parashat Korach


“Is it a small thing to you that the G-d of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the L-RD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; “and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?

Korach was the great-grandson of Levi, which makes him a cousin of Moshe and Aharon. He was a Levite, and as such had all the honours of serving in the Mishkan.

Korach ben Yitz’har, ben Khat, ben Le’vi, and Datan and Aviram, b’nei Eli’av, and finally On ben Palet, descendants of Rue’van. These men conspired and led a rebellion; they recruited 250 men. These men were leaders of the community, delegates of the Tent of Meeting. These were men chosen to assist Moshe in his leadership of the community. They chose a time when Moshe sat in judgment on the people who would come for counsel. These men approached Moshe and accused Moshe and Aharon of putting themselves above the people; “after all are not the whole community Holy?”

Moshe commands the people to gather the next morning, and the 250 men to present fire censers (or fire pans) to present fire before the L-rd. The next day, G-d tells Moshe to tell the people to move away from the tents of Korach, Datam, Avi’ram. The ground then opens up and swallows up all three men and their families, and all their property. The 250 men brought their fire pans, or incense burners. Fire from heaven consumed them.

Korach had spread insurrection. Datan and Avi’ram had refused to obey Moshe; they even complained again at how it was better in Mitzrayim. What was Korach’s grievance? Korach’s father Yitz’har was the second brother of Amram, Moshe and Aharon’s father. And Moshe had appointed Elitzafan, the second son of Uzi’el the fourth of K’hat’s son’s. Korach thought he, being senior in line in the K’hatanim clan than Elitzafan, should have been chief. But he wanted more; he wanted the position of Cohen Gadol. He was an angry man and he led an insurrection and rebellion. This was directed at Moshe and Aharon, but it was actually towards G-d and His authority.

How did Moshe react? “He fell on his face”; in other words he prostrated himself before G-d. Only afterwards did he address Korach, saying: “Is it not enough for you just to serve in the Tabernacle?” This was obviously a great honour. All this time, we see Moshe gently chastising them.

Here, Moshe, when faced with the pride of Korach, fell on his face. By humbling himself he created the setting in which HaShem could vindicate him. On other occasions Moshe’s spirit of humility allowed him to intercede and become a channel of healing to those who had opposed him.

In Romans 12: 14 – 21, we are reminded to… “Bless those who persecute you – bless them, don’t curse them! Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be sensitive to each other’s needs – don’t think yourselves better than others, but make humble people your friends. Don’t be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but try to do what everyone regards as good. If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people. Never seek revenge, my friends; instead, leave that to God’s anger; for in the Tanakh it is written, “ADONAI says, ‘Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay.”’ On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For by doing this, you will heap fiery coals (of shame) on his head.” Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.”

Let us be content with whatever G-d has given us, accepting our place in humility. “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the right time he may lift you up.” 1 Kefa 5: 6.

Rabbi Boaz