This week’s parshah, Korach, features a major rebellion instigated by Korach; Moshe and Aharon’s cousin.
Korach was jealous of both Moshe and Aharon, as they had prestigious positions of leader and Kohen Gadol respectively; Whereas Korach was only a participator in the priestly service. He decided to start up a rebellion, partnering up with the troublesome brothers, Datan and Aviram (Bamidbar 16:1). We learned in Parshat Shemot how these two brothers snitched against Moshe in Egypt, by relating to Pharaoh how Moshe killed the Egyptian, in turn risking Moshe’s life.
Korach was encamping in the wilderness amongst the Kohathites. They were neighbours with all the tribe of Reuven, and 250 members of the tribe of Reuven joined in the rebellion along with Korach (Bamidbar 16:2).
Korach’s party ridiculed the mitzvot that Moshe taught to the Jews, ridiculed Moshe, Aharon and even according to a Midrash, instigated a rumour that Moshe had committed adultery.
The Gemora states that their was two very wealthy people in Biblical history, they were Korach and Haman. However they both had something in common, they were never satisfied with the mass of wealth and power they had, they always wanted more and more. In fact Korach's key's to his storehouses were so heavy he needed much help for the keys to be carried (Pesachim 119).
Korach really wanted to be the Kohen Gadol; however Hashem appointed Aharon this position. However Korach was so jealous of Aharon he was not contempt with what he had and wanted more. Three things take a person out of the world; they are desire, honour and jealousy (Pirkei Avot 4:21).
Korach was almost semi successful in his rebellion. After Moshe summoned Korach, Datan and Aviram to no avail (Moed Katan 16a), Hashem punished Korach by opening up the earth and swallowed Korach and some of his family and slaves alive. Korach’s sons did survive (Megilla 14a), one of his sons, Asaf, went on to become a composer of many of the psalms we read in the book of Tehillim, he became a very righteous man.
Furthermore Korach actually went on to have a descendant that was as great as Moshe and Aharon that was Samuel; he was the prophet that went on to anoint Saul and David as kings (Megilla 14a).
After Korach was miraculously swallowed up (Bamidbar 16:32), his 250 followers along with Dathan and Aviram died in a fire that rained down from Hashem.
Once again, the Jews began to panic, and started complaining against Moshe and Aharon; Hashem was ready to severely punish the Jews and brought about a plague that killed more than 14,700 of the wicked Jews (Bamidbar 17:14).
As the plague was continuing, Moshe remembered something he learned during his stay in the heavenly realms during his forty days and forty nights, he remembered how each angel revealed him a secret, one of them was revealed by the angel of death, the secret was that incense being brought up to Hashem could stop an active plague (Shabbat 88). Aharon acted swiftly under Moshe’s instruction and brought up incense (spices), the plague then immediately stopped.
Many still complained, however to a lesser degree. Hashem instructed Moshe to instruct the leader of each tribe to write there name on a separate stick and leave it overnight. Hashem stated that which ever stick would produce almonds and blossom with flowers would be the tribe that is to do the priestly service and its leader being the Kohen Gadol. After an overnight wait, Aharon’s stick, under the tribe of Levi, blossomed; this proved to everybody how Aharon was the true leader of the Jews (Bamidbar 17:23)! In fact according to few Gemara's (Keritot 5/ Yoma 52b), King Yoshiyahu hid the stick of Aharon, before the First Temple was destroyed.
The Parshah then concludes by relating the twenty four different gifts that were to be awarded to the Kohanim by the nation, as they did plenty of the service in the Tabernacle and Temple (Bamidbar 18:8-19).
The Haftorah for this weeks reading comes from the first book of Samuel, chapters 11 and 12. Hope you all have a fantastic Shabbat, by Michael Zaroovabeli.