Korach קֹרַח

This is a Parshah about leadership. Leadership לשם שמים – for the sake of heaven, and leadership for the sake of oneself.

It is also about holiness – קְדֻשָּׁה‎. Are we all holy? Is there one role more holy than another? What is an individual’s place in society?

It is also about wisdom – wisdom to act behind the scene if needed to achieve a true and righteous goal.

In short – this is a Parshah about all of us.

א  וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח, בֶּן-יִצְהָר בֶּן-קְהָת בֶּן-לֵוִי; וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם בְּנֵי אֱלִיאָב, וְאוֹן בֶּן-פֶּלֶת–בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן.

1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;

ב  וַיָּקֻמוּ לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה, וַאֲנָשִׁים מִבְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם, נְשִׂיאֵי עֵדָה קְרִאֵי מוֹעֵד, אַנְשֵׁי-שֵׁם.

2 and they rose up in face of Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty men; they were princes of the congregation, the elect men of the assembly, men of renown;

ג  וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ עַל-מֹשֶׁה וְעַל-אַהֲרֹן, וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם רַב-לָכֶם–כִּי כָל-הָעֵדָה כֻּלָּם קְדֹשִׁים, וּבְתוֹכָם יְהוָה; וּמַדּוּעַ תִּתְנַשְּׂאוּ, עַל-קְהַל יְהוָה.

3 and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them: ‘Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?’

 

This is the moment when the real leader, the one who leads realizing not his privileges, but his responsibilities has nothing else to say but:

כח  וַיֹּאמֶר, מֹשֶׁה, בְּזֹאת תֵּדְעוּן, כִּי-יְהוָה שְׁלָחַנִי לַעֲשׂוֹת אֵת כָּל-הַמַּעֲשִׂים הָאֵלֶּה:  כִּי-לֹא, מִלִּבִּי. 28 And Moses said: ‘Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works, and that I have not done them of mine own mind.
כט  אִם-כְּמוֹת כָּל-הָאָדָם, יְמֻתוּן אֵלֶּה, וּפְקֻדַּת כָּל-הָאָדָם, יִפָּקֵד עֲלֵיהֶם–לֹא יְהוָה, שְׁלָחָנִי. 29 If these men die the common death of all men, and be visited after the visitation of all men, then the LORD hath not sent Me.
ל  וְאִם-בְּרִיאָה יִבְרָא יְהוָה, וּפָצְתָה הָאֲדָמָה אֶת-פִּיהָ וּבָלְעָה אֹתָם וְאֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, וְיָרְדוּ חַיִּים, שְׁאֹלָה–וִידַעְתֶּם, כִּי נִאֲצוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה אֶת-יְהוָה. 30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the ground open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down alive into the pit, then ye shall understand that these men have despised the LORD.’
לא  וַיְהִי, כְּכַלֹּתוֹ, לְדַבֵּר, אֵת כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה; וַתִּבָּקַע הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר תַּחְתֵּיהֶם. 31 And it came to pass, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground did cleave asunder that was under them.
לב  וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת-פִּיהָ, וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת-בָּתֵּיהֶם, וְאֵת כָּל-הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר לְקֹרַח, וְאֵת כָּל-הָרְכוּשׁ. 32 And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
לג  וַיֵּרְדוּ הֵם וְכָל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, חַיִּים–שְׁאֹלָה; וַתְּכַס עֲלֵיהֶם הָאָרֶץ, וַיֹּאבְדוּ מִתּוֹךְ הַקָּהָל. 33 So they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit; and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the assembly.

We also learn that any object that touches holiness, even if it comes from an unclean desire, will never stay the same, it will acquire a holy status of some kind:

א  וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. 1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
ב  אֱמֹר אֶל-אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן-אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן, וְיָרֵם אֶת-הַמַּחְתֹּת מִבֵּין הַשְּׂרֵפָה, וְאֶת-הָאֵשׁ, זְרֵה-הָלְאָה:  כִּי, קָדֵשׁוּ. 2 ‘Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the fire-pans out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder; for they are become holy;
ג  אֵת מַחְתּוֹת הַחַטָּאִים הָאֵלֶּה בְּנַפְשֹׁתָם, וְעָשׂוּ אֹתָם רִקֻּעֵי פַחִים צִפּוּי לַמִּזְבֵּחַ–כִּי-הִקְרִיבֻם לִפְנֵי-יְהוָה, וַיִּקְדָּשׁוּ; וְיִהְיוּ לְאוֹת, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. 3 even the fire-pans of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, and let them be made beaten plates for a covering of the altar–for they are become holy, because they were offered before the LORD–that they may be a sign unto the children of Israel.’
ד  וַיִּקַּח אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, אֵת מַחְתּוֹת הַנְּחֹשֶׁת, אֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיבוּ, הַשְּׂרֻפִים; וַיְרַקְּעוּם, צִפּוּי לַמִּזְבֵּחַ. 4 And Eleazar the priest took the brazen fire-pans, which they that were burnt had offered; and they beat them out for a covering of the altar,
ה  זִכָּרוֹן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יִקְרַב אִישׁ זָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא מִזֶּרַע אַהֲרֹן הוּא, לְהַקְטִיר קְטֹרֶת, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה; וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה כְקֹרַח וְכַעֲדָתוֹ, כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה בְּיַד-מֹשֶׁה לוֹ.  {פ} 5 to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, to the end that no common man, that is not of the seed of Aaron, draw near to burn incense before the LORD; that he fare not as Korah, and as his company; as the LORD spoke unto him by the hand of Moses. {P}

 

There is a lot of talk today devoted to the place of this or that celebrity figure in society. Many of the people that attained celebrity status by acting, singing, etc. think that their celebrity status somehow allows them to lead the people or advise the nations on political and world affairs. This Parshah teaches us that each of us is unique precisely in the place where we are and strive to be better. By trying to push others from their places, are we really achieving anything?

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

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