Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Parshat Korach

Korach, a name that is infamous for rebellion, a name from the Torah that we view with distaste due to his actions. This week’s parsha mainly centers around the actions of Korach and his followersand that is what I am going to concentrate on (so, I’m like everyone else, choosing the easy part to comment on!) As always, please note that I am not a Rabbi and if you find any issues, corrections or adjustements needed, let me know!

So, lets first look at Korach. At first glance, the actions of Korach seem to be nowhere near as serious as the punishment that they get from it. So what is the seriousness of his actions? There seem to be two main issues with his actions- the mocking of Torah (and Moses) and that of Lashon HaRa.

Korach comes to Moses, challenging his leadership and the Torah he is teaching. The midrash states that he and his follows donned four cornered garments completely dyed with techeilat and without tzitzit and came to Moses to ask if they needed tzitzit. Moses replied yes. Next they asked if a house is filled with Torah’s, does it still require Mezuzot. Once again Moses replied yes. At this, Korach started mocking Moses stating that how could two threads of techeilet validate a garment but an entire garment was unkosher? How could a small section of the Torah validate the house by the mitzvah but rooms full of Torah did not? Essentially, he claimed Moses was making up the Torah and that it was illogical.

More than that, he claimed that Moses was grabbing power for his family and abusing power. At this, the Torah states “Moses fell upon the ground”. Now, compared to the attacks on the Torah and Moses family, why this extreme reaction to claims of abuse of power? The Baal HaTurim states that Moses heard rumours that he was supposedly abusing power to commit adultery with the women of Bnei Yisrael. He now understood the source of the rumours and the extent to which Korach and his followers had fallen!

The subsequent happenings are for the purpose of showing Bnei Yisrael that Moses was correct, that what he taught came from God and the depths to which Korach and his followers had sunk- using lashon hara to try and achieve political ends, regardless of the damage it would inflict on the nation if Moses and the Torah were discredited! This is also the reason for the punishment- it had to be extreme to emphasise the heinous nature of trying to discredit the Torah and of speaking lashon hara. By it including all the followers of Korach, it also taught that lashon hara is like a disease that spreads, contaminating those that indulge in it and poisoning them forever. However, the fact that the plague was stopped also shows that we can repent even from such a heinous deed, though that repentance is difficult.

June 25, 2008 Posted by | Parshah, Torah | , , , | Leave a comment