Parshat Korach-Bedrock of Faith

10 06 2010

Based on a shiur by Rabbi Rabbi Hershel Reichman

If we look at how our Sages portray Korach, an intriguing picture emerges.  Korach was a wealthy, respected Torah scholar who was chosen for the coveted position of carrying the Aron, the holy Ark.  According to Rashi, he merited to receive ruach hakodesh (Divine inspiration). How did such an esteemed person steep to a level of fomenting machloket (strife) against Moshe Rabbeinu? Korach and his followers were eyewitnesses to the open miracles that occurred through Moshe including the ten plagues, the Exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the sea, and the giving of the Torah.  How could they rebel against these very truths?  It is written that one who denies the truths of Moshe loses his share in the World To Come. However, the Gemara writes that Korach was only punished in this world. He still merited to receive a portion in Gan Eden. How can we understand this?
Korach and his followers came to Moshe with a tallis completely fashioned of techeilet-blue wool. They asked Moshe if it required an additional techeilet string. They also asked if a room filled with seforim (holy books) necessitated a mezuzah. Moshe answered yes to both questions. Korach really meant to say that the Jewish people were completely techeilet – sanctified and elevated.  They did not require Moshe to interpret the Torah for them. Similarly, just as a mezuzah which reminds a person of Hashem’s Torah, seems superfluous in a room filled with Torah books, Korach wanted to indicate that the holy Jewish nation who had heard Hashem’s voice at Mt. Sinai, did not need Moshe’s leadership.
The Shem MiShmuel explains Moshe’s uniqueness, revealing why he alone was handpicked as a conduit to bring the Torah to the Jewish nation.  Human beings are a blend of body and soul. There is a tremendous conflict between the physical and spiritual side of a person.  There is an instability inside each of us which is related to the physical aspect of our being.  Ancient Egypt was prone to this volatility. Pharaoh and the Egyptian nation were a very physical society. They were the complete antithesis of Hashem and the Torah.  It took 10 plagues for Pharaoh to cease vacillating back and forth and allow the Jews to leave Egypt.
In contrast, Hashem gifted Moshe from birth with unusual powers of stability and steadfastness. This is symbolized by his name, “Ki min hamayim misheseiu”-He was pulled out from the physical side of the world.  Only Moshe, possessing no self doubt,    perfectly at peace in his beliefs, a paragon of stability, could bring the Torah to Klal Yisrael.  He had the power to be an anchor for the Jewish nation.  Moshe never died. A spark of his soul enters every Jew who studies Torah. This fragment brings with it solidity, commitment, knowledge of Hashem, and connection to the essence of this world. A Jew cannot get this without Moshe.
According to the Arizal,  Korach embodied the soul of Kayin.  Korach, like Kayin, was blinded by pride. He held himself higher than Moshe, claiming that he had acquired his elevated level of steadfastness and stability through hard work, in contrast to Moshe who had received it as an innate gift. He demanded that Hashem reward him with Moshe’s position. Korach erred by questioning Hashem’s decisions.
The blue techeiliet strings correspond to din – judgement. White symbolizes ahavah-love.  Korach wanted to tell Moshe that the Jewish people did not need him to be their bearer of justice. Every Jew could achieve stability on their own. In the same vein, the mezuzah is din-judgement. Korach indicated that Moshe’s control was unnecessary in a house filled with Torah. When Moshe did not accept his reasoning, Korach’s raging emotions led him to utter heretical statements. However, fundamentally he was not a heretic, and therefore he did not lose his share in the World to Come.
“Moshe Emet V’toroso Emet”, Moshe is our true living teacher.  He experienced so many tumultuous events throughout his life, yet still remained the model “eved neeman”-trustworthy servant of Hashem.  How can we successfully navigate the myriad challenges and vicissitudes of life? By connecting to Moshe’s infinite, steadfast, faith, and drawing strength from the Torah’s living waters.




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