– In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren
(Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)
Korach was about to challenge Moses'
leadership. As Rashi (1040 – 1105)
explains, Korach was jealous that
Elizaphan, son of Uzziel, was
appointed by Moses as prince of the
family of Kehas, the son of Levi and
one of the three families of Levite
tribe responsible for maintaining
Kehas, the son of Levi had four
children, Amram, Yizhar, Hebron, and
Uzziel. Moses, the leader of Israel,
and Aaron, the High Priest, were the
sons of Amram. By the rules of
succession, Yizhar's oldest son,
Korach, was next in line. 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
“Moses heard and fell on his face.”
(Numbers 16:4) Rashi, based on
Midrash Tanchuma (Compilation of
Jewish Homiletic, 6th Century,
Reprinted in Mantua, Italy 1563;
Numbers 4), explains that this was
Israel's fourth insubordinate act.
First was the Golden Calf, then the
complaints of the Manna, and then
the spies slandering the Land of
Israel causing upheaval the Jewish
people would actually be able to
conquer the mighty Kings living in
Israel. Korach's rebellion was the
fourth episode and Moses became
weakened and had little strength to
pray on Israel's behalf.
Rashi compares this to a parable –
On three occasions, the king's son
acted shamefully. Each time, the
King's friend successfully
interceded with the king on the
son's behalf. However, after the
fourth occurrence, the son's friend
lost faith the king would be
appeased yet again.
In the parable, G-d is King, Israel
is the son, and Moses is the King's
friend. Yet, it's not a perfect
parable because, in this instance,
Moses wasn't only the friend, he was
also the victim, the one being
directly challenged and attacked by
Korach and his cohorts.
Or maybe it is a perfect parable.
Even while being attacked, Moses'
sole concern was the children of
Israel, the “King's son”. Moses
never acted to defend his honor or
sought to punish those who offended
him. Like the friend in the parable,
he pleaded with the king on the
son's behalf, never his own.
As leader of the Jewish people and
G-d's emissary, Moses had many
justifications for defending the
honor of his “office”. Yet he never
did. His concern was only and always
for the welfare of his people – the
mark of a true leader.