This week’s Torah portion tells us of Korach, who instigated a rebellion against Moshe and his brother Aharon. The Torah tells us what his punishment was. “The earth under them opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses, and all the men who were with Korach and all of their property. They and all they possessed, descended alive into the grave. The earth covered them up, and they were lost to the Jewish people.” This would seem to make it abundantly clear that Korach’s sons also perished.
Yet further on, in the Torah portion of Pinchos, we are told that they survived; it says clearly that “Korach’s sons did not die.” Rashi explains that “they were originally involved in the rebellion. However, during the dispute, they had thought of Teshuvah – Repentance. Therefore, an elevated area was set apart for them in Gehinnom, and they stayed there.”
We need to understand this. If Korach’s sons did Teshuvah, why should the earth have swallowed them up? If, conversely, they did not genuinely do Teshuvah, why did they deserve to remain alive? Furthermore, why does the Torah wait so long to tell us that they did not die?
The explanation is that they did indeed regret participating in the rebellion against Moshe. They did do Teshuvah. However, as Rashi says, “they had thought of Teshuvah.” Despite this thought, they did not openly display their regret. Hashem repays us “measure for measure.” Just as they appeared to have sided with their father, so too did they seem to have been punished.
Therefore, the Torah waits until the portion of Pinchas to tell us that they remained alive. At that point, the entire generation that left Egypt and witnessed Korach’s rebellion had already passed away. Hence, there was no longer a reason for them to remain in Gehinnom.
May this Parshah teach us that “Moshe is true and his Torah is true.” May we all connect ourselves to Moshe, and the Moshe of every generation.
I wish one and all a good Shabbos, a good month, and healthy summer!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 33, Pages 170-175
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס
. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 16:32-33.
. We will read this portion three weeks from now.
. Parshas Pinchos, Bamidbar 26:11.
. See Rashi Bamidbar 20:22.