Defining the Ultimate Jew

Tamuz 2, 5782
July 1, 2022
Candlelighting Time 8:13 PM

            Moshe’s supreme authority as the leader of the nation was under siege. Korach complained that he had usurped his dominance and took the kingship for himself and the rights of the Priesthood for his brother Aron. Certainly, there were many worthy people amongst the people that could serve in that capacity just as well! Although the Sages teach us that Korach’s complaints were borne out of jealousy since his younger cousin was appointed as the prince of their respective family from the Levite tribe, however his arguments were apparently so effective and convincing that 250 leaders of the Rabbincal courts from the tribe of Reuven were swept into this pandemonium! Did they not recognize the supremacy of Moshe who had led them out of Egypt, split the sea, received the Torah for them at Mt. Sinai and stood at the helm of the nation and saved them from the catastrophic spy debacle which almost destroyed the entire nation?

            Rashi explains that after the Korach episode, Hashem ‘confirmed’ the gifts awarded to the Kohanim as one would validate a document gifting a tract of real estate to its recipient. And to seal the contract with total endorsement, a covenant reinforced with the power of salt, a highly enduring element, was also added. Perhaps the question is why didn’t Hashem initially empower the Kohanim with this ratification which would have nixed this mutiny before it occurred?

            When Hashem created the world, He fused the attribute of pure judgement with the quality of kindness. Although we must act responsibly and face retribution for our misdeeds, Hashem’s graciousness pervades the world and we are allowed a grace period within which to rectify and improve our conduct. However, Korach was promoting everyone is entitled and that we should be availed only of Hashem’s kindness. Kohanim operate on that principle as they serve others in their capacity of sacrificing the offerings of others and effecting atonement. Korach declared that we should all be Kohanim, an upgrade from his status of the tribe of Levites, that represented the power of judgment and rigidity. The early commentators explain that salt is imbued with a power of fire and water intermingled and functioning harmoniously, a miniature world representing Hashem’s coalescing of those two elements. Korach searched for his goal based upon his jealous perspective. However, the 250 Rabbinical justices actually were motivated by altruistic intentions. However, as great as their passion was, their folly was to unite with Korach’s misguided objectives and aspirations. Moshe had forewarned them that just as Hashem created the world with darkness and light, so too, their ambitions based upon Korach’s provocations that Priesthood should be extended to the entire nation were not realistic and actually were contrary to the extremely basic tenets of the ongoing functioning of Hashem’s plan for the world.

            Truthfully, the need for Hashem to stamp his approval on the document attesting to the rights of the Kohanim was unnecessary. However, when we fail to conduct ourselves based upon the principles that formed our very existence, then extreme measures are required and therefore a new covenant was established to concretize that which was fundamental to us.


The destructive energy that emanates from discord is such that those involved will speak illogically. Dasan and Aviram responded to Moshe’s entreaty to discuss the issues at hand that even if you blind us we will not contemplate the matter at hand.                                                     CHOFETZ CHAIM