Parshas Korach 2018: Who Is Rich?
“Korach son Izhar...separated himself….” (Numbers 16:1).
Korach was a Jewish leader and the wealthiest man amongst the B’nai Yisroel (children of Israel) but he made a critical error. It was so severe that the punishment for his mistake was actually created at the time of creation.
Perkei Avos asks, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.” (Avos 4:1)
Korach was the foremost figure and leader in a full fledged rebellion against Moshe and Ahron. His mission was to undermine Moshe and Ahron and to create doubt as to whether this was a simple case of nepotism in hope of replacing Ahron as the Kohen Gadol (High Priest).
Last week, at the very end of the parsha we received the mitzvah of tzitzis. Tzitzis is the obligation for every Jewish male to weave white strings on the corners of every four cornered garment he wears. The strings and their bindings serve as a constant reminder of the 613 mitzvos. In ancient times, the mitzvah of tzitzis had an extra feature that is lost today. One’s tzitzis used to have a single strand of blue “techeiles”. The blue was from a now rare or extinct mollusk’s dye whose color resembled that of the ocean, sky, and Hashem’s “kisay hakavod” (Holy Throne). Today our tzitzis are purely white. However, in the Messianic era there will be a reinstatement of the techeiles, as it is an essential element.
Korach took this mitzvah and used it to mount his attack against Moshe and Ahron who had just finished teaching the people all its parameters. Korach was an eloquent speaker and as a result highly influential. He (and his wife) made talaisim (prayer shawls) of only the blue techeiles and challenged Moshe; a talis of complete techeiles would it still need tzitzis?! When Moshe answered that he would in fact still need tzitzis, Korach mocked him as presenting his illogical ideas. Through his efforts he attracted a mass of 250 prestigious and prominent leaders. This amounted to an attack not only on Moshe and Ahron but on the Torah itself.
Moshe davened (prayed) to Hashem that He create a clear sign that it was indeed Hashem who selected Moshe and Ahron. Moshe suggested that He open the earth and swallow Korach and his followers. Hashem heard his tefillos (prayers) and acted. Hashem was not happy with Korach, to say the least.
Perkei Avos also teaches, “Ten things were created on the eve of the [first] Shabbos at twilight… The mouth of the earth [that swallowed Korach]....” (Avos 5:6)
Hashem performed a miracle that has never been seen before or after. It was something so incredible and grandiose it’s almost too difficult for us to understand the magnanimity of what actually occurred and how it affected Korach and his followers as well as the rest of the nation witnessing it.
Hashem split the earth from beneath the rebellion’s feet and they and all their belongings were literally swallowed into the depths of the Earth. Hashem completely removed the bad from amongst the people in a way that surely impacted both the rebels and the people.
Rabbi Elazar HaKappar teaches jealousy is one of three traits that can remove a person from this world. Korach was a very wealthy, scholarly, and well respected. Additionally, Korach was cousins with Moshe and Ahron but jealousy afflicted him and he was eventually “removed from the world”.
The Torah records events that we can learn and grow from as a nation and as individuals. To that end, this was a marquee event. Korach seemingly had everything, wealth, respect, and honor yet still was not happy with his lot, and as a result....
We should always remember to be happy with what Hashem gives us ! -Amen!
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters