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June 10, 1994 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-06-10

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Parshat Korach starts with the
rebellion of two groups who
united against Moshe and
Aharon. The first group was from
the tribe of Levi, with Korach as
their leader. The second group
was from the tribe of Reuven,
with Datan, Aviram and On, son
of Pelet, as their leaders. These
men, along with 250 people from
the elite of the nation, stood up
and gathered around Moshe and
Aharon, demonstrating, asking
and actually demanding to know:
"All the people in the communi-
ty are holy, and God is among
them. Why are you setting your-
selves above God's congregation?"
In another words, "Moshe and
Aharon, who gave you the au-
thority to put the tribe of Levi as
the top holy tribe of all 12 tribes?"
"Why not us, the Reuven tribe,
since Reuven was the first born
to Jacob." 'We are supposed to
get this honor." "Why does
Aharon, Moshe's brother, get the
description of 'Cohen Hagadol'
the High Priest?' Korach, who is
from the tribe of Levi, and actu-
ally the cousin of Moshe and
Aharon, asked, "Why not me as
the High Priest?"
Who was Korach? Korach was
a very smart and rich man.
Bamidbar Raba tells us that Ko-
rach was a very clever man and
was one of the men to carry the
ark. The people carrying the ark
must also be very God fearing
since this job was very sensitive
and carried a lot of respect.
Korach also was very rich
man. According to Bamidbar
Raba: "Korach was the richest
of all Israel." In Psachim 119:
"Rabbi Chama son of Chanina
said: Three treasures, Joseph son
of Jacob, buried in Egypt. One of
these treasures was found by
Korach."
Korach, as a very powerful
man, allowed himself to step for-
ward and rebel against Moshe
and actually against God.
Midrash Tanchuma explains
that the rebellion of Korach and
his group started with the issue
of honor, but they were actually
questioning Moshe's actions; and
they wanted to know the law
sources of the Torah, whether
Moshe has real sources to prove
what he does and says, or does he
creates them from his heart?
The commentators describe
Korach's actions as the worst
thing that can happen to a com-
munity, machaloket (contro-
versy/di s s ension/dis cord ).

Sasson Natan is spiritual leader

of the Sephardic Community of
Greater Detroit.

Machaloket also is separation/
division. If a person chooses the
machaloket, he will be dismissed
from all worlds (the present world.
and the world to come).
That is what happened to
Korach and his group; "The earth
opened its mouth and swallowed
them and their houses, along
with all the men who were with
Korach. They fell into the depths
along with all that was theirs."
(Numbers 16, 32).
A controversy for God's sake is
like Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai,
that only Hillel and Shamai
reached the level of having a dif-
ference of opinion but still treat-
ed each other with honor and
respect. Our rabbis warn us since
it is difficult to act like Hillel and
Shamai, it is better to stay away
from the machaloket and not end
up like Korach and his group.
The Ramban, Eben-Ezra,
Rashi and many other commen-
tators try to explain what actu-
ally happened to Korach and the
reason he was buried alive. We
fmd the answer in Pirkeh Avot:
The jealousy, the desire and the
glory, take the man out from this

Shabbat Korach:
Numbers 16:1-18:32
I Samuel 11:14-
12:22.

world. Jealousy — in spite of all
what Korach had, he was still
jealous of Moshe and Aharon.
Korach desired something which
was not meant to be his. He
wanted to be above all.
Every Shabbat we read a spe-
cial blessing for the congregation
right after the Torah reading. As
we all know, to be a worker for
the community is tough and not
always an honorable job (look at
Moshe and the hard time he had);
therefore, I will end with these
words from the Shabbat morning
service since they have a strong
connection to this Parasha. "May
He who blessed our fathers .. .
may He bless those who faithfully
occupy themselves with the needs
of the community. May the holy
one, blessed be He, grant them
their reward . . . and forgive their
sins." In the Sephardic prayer
books we add, "May the ruler of
the universe bless you . . . and
plant among you brotherly love,
peace and amity. May He remove
all prejudice from among you
and break the yoke of the nations
from your neck . . . May this be
the will of God," and let us say,
amen.

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