Pearls of Rashi – Pinchos

In this week’s Torah portion, Pinchos, we find something which appears to be out of place. The Torah tells us that (Bamidbar 26:11) “Korach’s sons did not die.” Rashi explains that “they were originally involved in the conspiracy, but during the dispute they repented in their hearts; therefore an elevated area was set apart for them in Gehinnom and they stayed there.” We need to understand why the Torah is telling us here that Korach’s children were saved; it would seem more appropriate for the Torah to have told us this in the Parshah of Korach.

We can explain that in the following manner. We are told that all of Korach’s band who were involved in the rebellion (Bamidbar 16:33) “They, and all they possessed, descended alive into the grave; the earth covered them up and they were lost to the assembly of Jews.” That assembly saw Korach’s son’s sin. However they did not see them do Teshuvah. As Rashi told us, they performed Teshuvah in their hearts. Therefore that assembly had to see them become lost together with their fellow conspirators. They could not think that they were not punished.

However a new assembly which had not witnessed their rebellion, could see their salvation. This was a new assembly which had not seen Korach’s rebellion. At this point no one that witnessed Korach’s rebellion was there. Rashi explains in the Torah portion of Chukas (Bamidbar 20:22) that at this time “All were perfect ready to enter Israel … all those destined to die in the desert had already perished.” Since this was a new community of Jews, Korach’s sons could now leave the “elevated area which was set apart for them in Gehinnom.” Now we could first be told that they were saved.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos! May we merit the time of the complete and true redemption now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

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