Parsha Korach 5770: Leadership Based on Divine Merit, vs Protexia and Political Self-Interest

       



   


by Moshe Burt

Parsha Korach may seem to the reader a to be a logical continuation of Parsha Shelach as it would seem very much that Korach and his attempted power grab is a logical after-affect, a consequence of the denial of Eretz Yisrael by 10 of the 12 miraglim (spies). But the commentaries indicate that Korach’s rebellion was a result of Hashem’s stripping firstborns of their Divine service after the Golden Calf, and conveying this service upon the Levi’im, of which Korach was a member.

In fact, Yehuda Nachshoni’s “Studies in the Weekly Parsha” (pages 1032-1033) cites Ramban’s view that the cause of the rebellions of our Parsha; Korach’s, Dasan and Aviram’s and the First Born’s was:
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The spies’ severe punishment, which brought death to the generation of the desert and plague to its princes. It [the punishment]… brought to the surface all of the accumulated bitterness of the dissatisfied, who until now had not dared to come out against Moshe. Now they took advantage… to settle accounts.

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The Sefer “Torah Gems” by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg states the following thought:
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“Now took Korach…”; that Korach was blessed with many positive attributes: fine lineage, wisdom, qualities worthy of a leader of B’nai Yisrael. “‘Now took Korach — he took himself.’ He did not wait until he was offered the leadership, but he sought to take it by force. That is why he is not worthy of it.” (Torah Gems, by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Parsha Korach, Volume 3, page 79.)

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Nachshoni also cites Chasam Sofer (page 1033) who indicates that Korach’s contesting against Moshe stemmed from the Divine Conveyance of:
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The monarchy and priesthood to the 2 grandsons of Kehas, Moshe and Aaron — sons of Kehas’ oldest son Amram. This was seen as a total negation of any claim by Kehas’ next 2 sons, Yitzhar and Chevron…

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In short, the Chasam Sofer seems to indicate that Korach contested based on promoting a claim that the positions of power should have distributed evenly amongst Kehas’ 3 sons. He thus campaigned based on his assertion that Moshe employed nepotism and consolidation of power.

Sefer L’lmod Ul’lamed (Rabbi Mordechai Katz) quotes gemora Sanhedrin 7b which states;
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“…A Jewish leader should be strong and dynamic rather than weak and vacillating. But, at all times, the Jewish leader should not let his position make him haughty. He should remember that he is but dust and ashes and that in the end his bones will rest in the same soil as do those of all other men.”

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However, it seems that Korach, while feigning concern for the masses, actually stood in disdain of them selfishly seeking power and prestige for himself.

Shem Mishmuel writes about Korach that he seemed to resent that Moshe was the leader of B’nai Yisrael, that Aaron was the Kohen Gadol and that he was not the one appointed head of the Children of Kehath, his branch of the priestly family. Korach’s motivations were complex, the layers of discontent behind his abortive challenge to the leadership numerous as is discussed by the great commentators. (Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

Shem Mishmuel relates a thought on Korach from Rashi;
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“Korach was an intelligent man. If so, why did he involve himself with this nonsense? His eyes deceived him, for he saw a chain of noble descent emerging from him, ending in Shmuel HaNavi [the great prophet], who was considered equal to Moshe and Aaron. He said, ‘On his [Shmuel's] account, I will be saved.’ There were also to be twenty-four stations of his descendents who would prophesy with the Divine spirit … He said, ‘Is it possible that all of this greatness will emerge from me and I should be silent?’ Therefore, he joined [with the other rebels] and came to the opinion that when he heard from Moshe that all of them would perish save one … he mistakenly assumed that it referred to him. He failed to look carefully, for his sons did teshuva…” (Rashi, Bamidbar, Perech 16, posuk 7 as related in Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

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It seems that in Korach’s case, he had basis for reasoning that his decendents, the generations of nevi’im who came before Shmuel would emanate from him and thus “it must be because he himself was a worthy and holy person.” (Shem Mishmuel on Parsha Korach, page 335)

Korach’s perception of history brought him to envision himself as “born to lead” and therefore, he took issue with the leadership of Moshe and Aaron HaKohen. Thus, while Hashem and history look disapprovingly at Korach’s attempt at a leadership grab, one might be able to understand what was behind Korach’s actions and possible rationale behind his false claims.

Three years ago, this author discussed how similar the nature and actions of contemporary national leaders and politicians are to the Miraglim, to a Korach, a Dasan and Aviram, etc.;
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…It would seem that in watching contemporary history, modern-day secular political “leaders”, and their “religious” political counterparts consciously fear the loss of power, the loss of influence to result from the unity of the entire B’nai Yisrael living and possessing the entirety of Eretz Yisrael. These corrupt, self-interested, self-aggrandized “leaders” fear the day when the unity of entire B’nai Yisrael possesses the entirety of Eretz Yisrael and thus every man is charged with the mutual responsibility for each other — no more cheating your fellow, no more deception, no more dishonesty, no more graft, bribes and corruption, no more violations of omission or comission — on any level. This would seem to this author to be the fundamental truth which lay beneath the surface of all of the euphemisms; territories, occupied territories, Oslo, “shtachim”, Saudi or Arab League “peace” plans, “American or EU pressure,” “roadmaps”,
“disengagement”, “consolidation” and multitudes of other rationales too numerous to list here. Israel’s political leaders; they know the score — just as it seems that the Miraglim did.

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The only other rationale there could be for the actions of this regime and its predecessors, which appear as nothing other than forced suicide being inflicting on B’nai Yisrael, is a leadership, a governance (including so-called Hareidi politicians), sooo distant from any Torah sense of Halachic reality that they consider themselves and the nation they govern as if grasshoppers to be stomped on by giants.

Korach’s arrogance and lust for leadership was based on self-interest, wrong and invalid as it was, had an element of spiritual basis. But a regime which acts only irrationally; based anti-religious bias and self-interest in the continuation of their own governing power, influence and self-enrichment at the nation’s expense is without any basis or grounding in reality. About the self-interest part of the regime’s irrationality, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon who once voiced similar thoughts;
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Government corruption is a greater threat to the country than Iran…. It is possible to deal with the threat from Iran but that corruption “is an internal and secret threat.”
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Ya’alon said the leadership crisis in Israel stems from moral and professional failures. He charged that the political culture in Israel has forgotten the principle that “when a person fails, he should accuse himself and not others.”
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The former Chief of Staff also attacked the current system whereby senior police and army officers advance according to their political opinions and their friendships with those in power apparently instead of according to their professional abilities.

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May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos, Chodesh Tov!

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Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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