Torah Weekly

For the week ending 16 June 2007 / 30 Sivan 5767

Parshat Korach

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Korach, Datan and Aviram, and 250 leaders of Israel rebel against the authority of Moshe and Aharon. The rebellion results in their being swallowed by the earth. Many resent their death and blame Moshe. G-d's "anger" is manifest by a plague that besets the nation, and many thousands perish. Moshe intercedes once again for the people. He instructs Aharon to atone for them and the plague stops. Then G-d commands that staffs, each inscribed with the name of one of the tribes, be placed in the Mishkan. In the morning the staff of Levi, bearing Aharon's name, sprouts, buds, blossoms and yields ripe almonds. This provides Divine confirmation that Levi's tribe is chosen for priesthood and verifies Aharon's position as Kohen Gadol, High Priest. The specific duties of the levi'im and kohanim are stated. The kohanim were not to be landowners, but were to receive their sustenance from the tithes and other mandated gifts brought by the people. Also taught in this week's Parsha are laws of the first fruits, redemption of the firstborn, and other offerings.


Opening Gifts

“…I have given them to you for distinction and to your sons as an eternal portion.” (18:8)

In this week’s Parsha the Torah lists twenty-four gifts that were given to the kohanim after the debacle of Korach.

Can it be mere coincidence that there are also twenty-four different types of service required of the kohanim in the Beit Hamikdash?

Everything is a gift. G-d gives us brains, talent, money, family, food, health, happiness. Every single thing we have is a present.

And the biggest part of the present is that the more we have, the more ways we can know G-d.

The prophet Yirmiyahu said, “Let not the wise man glorify himself with his wisdom, nor the strong man glory in his strength, nor the rich man in his wealth. In this alone may one glory: for contemplating and knowing Me.” (Yirmiyahu 9)

The more I have, the more I can recognize its Source.

Two ideas are basic to a belief in G-d. First, nothing is automatic: Nothing has to be — except for G-d. Everything I have as an individual is considered a gift of G-d.

Second, every gift is to be opened up to reveal what’s inside — a deeper awareness of the Creator.

Just as when the kohanim received twenty-four gifts they also received twenty-four ways to serve G-d, so too should every one of us see every gift as another way to connect to the Eternal.

  • Sources: Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, Chovot HaLevavot


“And Moshe heard and fell on his face…” (15:4)

The Torah does not specify exactly what caused Moshe to fall on his face. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 109) explains that Moshe fell down when he heard that he was suspected of adultery.

It’s difficult to see from the words of the Torah exactly where Moshe was accused of such a crime.

Often the most telling indictments are made without mentioning a word of reproof. In an argument between two people, when one says “I’m not evil,” the implication is that “I’m not evil — but you are!”

When Moshe heard Korach say, “All of them (the Jewish People) are holy,” the implication was that “they are all holy – but you aren’t!” The diametrical opposite of holiness is immorality. When Moshe heard that implicit but inescapable accusation, he fell to the ground.

  • Source: Mishkenot Yaakov HaSefardi in Mayana shel Torah

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