Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Korach

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This week we read Parshas Korach. It tells of Korach’s rebellion against the priesthood of Aharon. The Parshah begins with the words[1] “Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehos, the son of Levi took, together with Doson and Avirom, the sons of Eliov, and On the son of Peles, [who were] descendants of Reuvain.”.

What is the meaning of “Korach took?” What did he take? Rashi explains that “He took himself to one side to dissociate himself from the congregation, to contest the (appointment of Aaron to the) Kehunah. This is what Targum Onkelos means when he renders it “and he separated himself.” He separated himself from the congregation to persist in a dispute.

Some compare Korach’s dissension to Hashem’s firmament on the second day to divide between the higher and lower waters.

What is the analogy? There was a difference between the priests and the rest of the children of Israel. The priests were withdrawn from the affairs of the world and entirely taken up with their holy office. Especially the High Priest (against whom Korach’s accusation was primarily intended), of whom it is written that[2] “he shall not depart from the Sanctuary.”

Despite this, he was not uninvolved with the rest of the people. On the contrary, he exercised his influence over them all, drawing them up to his level of holiness. The kindling of the seven branches of the Menorah symbolized this. Aaron’s unique attribute was “Great, or everlasting Love”—and he drew the people near this service.

But Korach did not see this. He saw only the separation between Kohanim and people. Viewed in this light, he saw that just as the priests had their unique role, so too did the people, in enacting G‑d’s will in the practical world, which was, indeed, the whole purpose of the Torah. As separate entities, the people had at least as much right to honor and elevation as the priests.

This removes the inconsistency in his claim. He sought the priesthood but as an office entirely remote from the people. Hence his accusation, “Why do you elevate yourselves?” In his eyes, the two groups, utterly distinct, each had their special status.

In this way, Korach was like the firmament. He aimed to divide the people, like the waters, and sever the connection between the Sanctuary and the ordinary world.

I wish one and all a Good Shabbos, a meaningful Gimmel Tammuz, and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 8, Pp. 114 ff.

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Bamidbar 16:1.

[2]. Parshas Emor, Vayikroh 21:12.

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