KORACH _THE GREAT DISPUTE
Who were all the different people/groups in the parsha who fought with Moshe?
What were their fights about?
Why did they wait until now (over a year since leaving Egypt) until starting up?
How did Korach manage to persuade so many of the great leaders of the generation to side with him against Moshe and Aharon?
How could Moshe invent the test/show-down between Aharon and the 250 leaders without instruction from Hashem? And the test did not seem fair, for Aharon was to offer the incense inside the Mishkan as is commanded, while the others offered outside – and how did they agree to this?
How could the 250 concede to the test – for even if Aharon would not prevail, nonetheless there was only to be one survivor regardless –i.e. it appears they were committing an extremely risky game of Russian Roulette.
How could the Jewish nation accuse Moshe of doing wrong, after the persecutors were punished and the truth was revealed?
Why did Aharon need another test to prove his worthiness after his unanswerable victory over his 250 challengers?
What was the test and its results?
What is the connection between the end of last parsha (re: tsitsis) and our parsha?
Ohn the son of Peles was one of Korach’s assembly. Fortunately for Ohn, his wife convinced him to accede to the integrity of Moshe’s nominations, and to back out of the contention at the last minute, which saved his life. Korach also had his moments of doubt, but his wife persuaded him not to give in, and to seize to honour to which he is entitled.
Rabbi Wachtfogel (contemporary leader of American Jewry) notes that this exemplifies a principle in marital relationships. Whereas from many other sources he demonstrates that influence is a male phenomenon, nevertheless we see from here an influence from the side of the woman. The dynamic between the sun and moon is a good parable, in that the sun is the source of the influence/flow, yet the moon serves a role in reflecting that energy. In particular, the moon’s glow is noted at times of darkness, when the sun is (seemingly) subdued. So too in our parsha, when Korach and Ohn where lulling at a crossroads, their wives were there to bolster and guide them. We catch a insight into the respective personalities of these two players, vicariously through their wives’ reflections.
It is clear that Korach was convinced he was in the right. He saw greatness coming from him (the Prophet Samuel, and many great scholars and Levites). He also managed to persuade 250 leaders to side with him, and parade about the camp in revolt of Moshe. Further, the Israelites stood for it, despite everything they had experienced and received from Moshe.
Nonetheless, we know he was wrong. But how could such a great man, capable of rivaling Moses in his hey day be so mistaken.
Our sages show that Korach was corrupted by honour; his desire for prestige was the root of his gripe, and thus the entire platform which he and his party stood on was crooked. (And it was a most compelling and rational platform indeed – many of the commentators provide fascinating discertations on it.) We learn in Pirkei Avos “Jealousy, lust and honour drive a person out of the world. Korach is merely a microcosm of how an entire project, goal, lifestyle, institution, etc, can be partly if not entirely motivated by these base, and counter-truth drives. We have to be on constant guard for these viruses just as we would not let our computers roam free without a protective program. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was once planning a trip to England to do some important service for the Jewish people, and he thought: while in London it would be nice to pick up an umbrella (which they had just come out with). Immediately he seized himself and cancelled his whole venture, realizing that this intent was at the core of his designs, and thus the entire structure was lacking integrity.
The Chazon Ish teaches that training ourselves to have a passion for truth, and being willing to push ourselves to achieve clarity, even when we would naturally tend to compromise or generalize is a necessary tool in learning and living correctly. We also have to be honest with ourselves and be aware of our biases and areas most liable to rationalization. Rabbi Dessler remarks that only by perfecting our character, can we trust our minds to have 20/20 vision, and thus wisdom and advice can only rest with the pious and self-masterful.
We should all be blessed with enlightenment and truthful guidance and then all of our deeds will prosper.
Hope you have a great Shabbos,
The Beth Shifra Crew