Torah Portion: Korach B’Midbar(Numbers) 16-18
Haftorah Reading: I Samuel 11:14-12:22
Today we read the Torah portion Korach. It contains the story of the most serious rebellion in scripture against Moshe. What do you think was the motivation of Korach to challenge Moshe? Why do you think he almost succeeded?
Over the next few minutes I pray we can find G-d’s answers to these and other questions you might have from this Torah portion. I also pray we can discover G-d’s application of this story to our own spiritual life. First, let’s look at what might have moved Korach to take such action. I believe he was mainly motivated by jealousy. He sounded like he was confronting Moshe because, as he said, Moshe had taken too much for himself. He said, “All the congregation is holy.” Korach thought he should have been chosen for High Priest rather than Aaron, the brother of Moshe. He says any one of the congregation, who are all holy, could have filled the role. However, I believe his reasons had little to do with anyone but himself.
When we look at scripture we see Korach was a Levite. (Numbers 16:1) When we look further we see that Korach was a cousin of Moshe. His father was the second son of Kohath, while Moshe was the first born of Avran, Kohath’s first child. He could have felt he should have been High Priest rather than Aaron. The fact that Moshe had appointed Aaron, his brother, seemed to be favoritism.
Given these facts, I think we can see where jealousy filled Korach and drove him to rise up against Moshe. The time seemed ripe for a revolt. The incident of the spies had just occurred, the people were demoralized and their dream had vanished. We can also make the same case for Dathan and Aviram. They were descendants of Reuben, the first born of Jacob, yet they were left out of any leadership roles and were also jealous of Joshua who was from the tribe of Ephraim, son of Joseph. They too could have felt they were passed over.
Joining in the revolt were 250 men of renown, leaders of the people. All these rose up against Moshe and were ready to seize power. Korach and the others saw their opportunity to strike. So what we see so far is a group of people who felt their time had come to finally settle the score, to get what was coming to them.
Up to here what can we learn that might impact our spiritual life? Korach and his followers tried to settle this conflict by force rather than coming to Moshe and Aaron and presenting their issues in a way that might have led to a solution. Instead they struck out at Moshe and Aaron. They forgot, as we sometimes do, that we are all children of G-d, that we are brothers and sisters and each had an opinion that through talking could have been resolved. Violence never solves a problem really. It may feel good for awhile, it may seem to take care of the problem but in reality it only puts the issue off for awhile and even allows the problem to become more complicated as time goes on. Violence can be used to settle conflict but a far more effective way to settle a conflict is by persuasion. We see that played out here in our portion also. Even though the earth opened up and swallowed up Korah, Dothan and Aviram and the 250 were killed by holy fire nothing really changed, even in the face of these miracles. The very next day the people were complaining. In Numbers 17 we read what finally brought peace. Moshe took a staff from each tribal leader, placed them in the tent of witness to see which G-d would choose. The next morning the staff of Aaron had grown leaves, budded and produced almonds. Then the mater was settled. Everyone had a part They all were represented by a staff and G-d made the choice. Not violence, but a staff blooming stopped the revolt.
The people saw G-d’s hand in what happened. So must we be able to rest in Him. We are to live our lives with complete assurance that G-d reigns and has a plan for us each day. He requires us to live each day at peace, peace in knowing He is with us and wherever He has us is where we need to be to learn what He sees as our need at the time. Korach took matters into his own hands. He allowed his feelings to rule him. We must live our life, ruled not by feelings alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of G-d.
As G-d’s people we must realize that we are all part of the same body. We are responsible to each other. When one hurts we all hurt. None are better than the other. G-d has a role for each of us in this body and for the body to function correctly it needs all of its parts. Korach forgot this. We can disagree but those disagreements must not be allowed to break the body apart. We need each other. When we pray for each other we should see it as praying for ourselves. For none of us can be who G-d created us to be without all of us being who He created all of us to be.