KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
By Rabbi Chaim Lobel
(Numbers; Chapter 16, Verse 1) “And Korach, son
of Yizhar, son of Kehas, son of Levi, separated
himself.” Korach was about to challenge Moses'
leadership. Rashi explains, Korach was jealous
that Elizaphan the son of Uzziel, was appointed
by Moses as the prince of the family of Kehas.
Levi had three sons, Gershon, Kehas, and Merrari.
Each of these families had their own special
duties in the Tabernacle and needed a leader.
Kehas had four children, Amram, Yizhar, Hebron,
and Uzziel. Moses, the leader of Israel, and
Aaron, the High Priest, were the sons of Amram.
According to the rules of succession, Yizhar's
oldest son, Korach, should have been granted
leadership over the family of Kehas. Instead,
upon G-d’s command, Moses appointed Elizaphan,
son of Uzziel, the youngest son of Kehas. Korach,
jealous that he’d been passed over, challenged
Moses’ credibility as G-d’s representative.
After witnessing Moses’ leadership during the
ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, and the
revelation at Mt. Sinai, how did Korach have the
audacity, the chutzpah, to challenge him?
verse says, “and Korach... separated himself.”
Based upon Targum Onkelos, Rashi explains that
Korach removed himself from the assembly of
Israel. Korach was no longer part of the
Children of Israel. “His secession from the
Children of Israel was in order to sustain his
Before Korach could confront Moses, he first had
to negate all of Moses’ accomplishments.
Everything Moses had done, he did for the
Children of Israel. But none of that mattered
anymore to Korach because Korach had separated
himself. As Rashi explains, the power and
strength behind Korach’s challenge was based
upon the fact that he no longer identified
himself with the Children of Israel.
When you separate yourself from the community,
it becomes easy to ignore everything they’ve
done and everything they do; you begin to view
others as irrelevant. This was the downfall of
Korach. By separating himself from the Children
of Israel, he was able to ignore, and therefore
challenge, Moses’ authority.
an argument, it becomes easy to separate
yourself from those on the other side of the
dispute, as Korach did. One must use disputes
as a means to find a solution. When one
separates himself, he resolves to fight rather
than resolve what is right.
Lobel is the Rabbi of Young Israel of Aberdeen, Congregation Bet
Tefilah, Aberdeen, NJ.
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