Pearls of Rashi – Korach

This week’s Torah portion, Korach, tells of a rebellion against Aharon’s possession of the position of High Priest. Korach was the one that instigated this terrible rebellion. Surprisingly he managed to recruit 250 leaders of the nation to his side! Rashi tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu said to him (Bamidbar 16:6) “We have only one G-d, one ark, one Torah, one altar, and one Kohen Gadol. However you 250 men are all seeking the position of High Priest! I too would like that!” From Rashi’s words it seems that Moshe was agreeing with them. How is such a thing possible even if it was merely verbal?

We can explain this by understanding the answer to a different question. Hashem had promised Moshe that (Shemos 19:9) “they (the Jewish Nation) will believe in you forever.” In light of Hashem’s promise how is it possible that 250 heads of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish court, rebelled against Moshe? The explanation is that Korach and his band did believe in Moshe! Their rebellion was not against him. Their mistake was that they sought the office of Kehunah Gedolah.

Why was this position so important to them? They realized the great spiritual heights which only the High Priest can attain. They were aware that G-d had separated the Kohen Gadol from all other Jews; he alone would attain the status of “holy of holies.” They had witnessed that sin of the spies. They knew that prayer can annul a physical decree against the Jews. They thought that it might also cause them to attain a higher spiritual status.

That is why Moshe was able to tell them that “I too want that.” The desire to reach that sort of connection to G-d is something which is desirable! However it cannot happen. Just as “we have only one G-d, one ark, one Torah and one altar, so too do we have only one Kohen Gadol.

May Hashem help that we all strengthen our connection with Hashem. In that manner we will all reach the greatest heights and bring Moshiach now!

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos and a good month!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

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