VOLUME 96 NUMBER 5
June 11, 2021
Tamuz 1, 5781
Candlelighting Time 8:10 PM
The episode of Korach’s rebellion against Moshe is a challenge for us to understand with our deep respect and admiration for the status of Moshe. However, during his lifetime, apparently, his leadership role was not as established as we view it today allowing for this skepticism to develop. However, what is rather puzzling is the participation of the tribe of Reuven in this insurrection. After all, what did they stand to gain from Korach’s desire to become appointed as the prince of the Levites? Indeed, one of the original members of his inner circle absconded from their revolt for that very reason. Rashi cites the Midrash that since they were neighbors, they both encamped on the south side of the Mishkan, therefore they were influenced to join Korach in his assault against Moshe. Although Rashi later explains that Moshe was concerned that other tribes might also side with Korach, nonetheless, the tribe of Reuven was the first because of their proximity. If Korach’s arguments against Moshe made sense, then it would be reasonable to assume that any tribe that heard his logic would be inclined to join him. However, if what he was saying was outlandish, then why would anyone want to distrust Moshe who had done so much for the nation?
Exposure is a very powerful tool attracting others and pulling them into your philosophical orbit. The tribes of Yehuda and Yissochor were near Moshe and therefore they were more attuned to Torah study. We reflect upon Korach’s reluctance to trust Moshe and we are amazed at the seemingly ingenuous queries that he posited against Moshe and we find it difficult to believe that he was so effective. However, the truth is that when the temperament is contaminated, then the results are almost guaranteed. We need only to examine history and we will see time after time how a prevailing mood overtook sometimes even millions and ‘convinced’ them that they were correct.
Maimonides explains in great length the importance of residing with only righteous people so that we can glean from their wisdom and conduct. The source of Maimonides is the Talmud which expounds upon the significance of dealing with Torah scholars on many levels. We should intermingle with them involving business deals, marry their children and, in general, help them in a tangible manner. In Pirkei Avos we are taught that we should cleave to the ‘dirt of the feet’. The Vilna Gaon explains that we should always follow them and listen to their wisdom and view their conduct so that we can emulate their ways and improve our lifestyle. The Sages liken this to the individual who enters a store where spices and fragrances are sold. Merely his presence amongst the fine smelling contents will cling to his clothing and body and he will also have an inspiring and appealing scent that emanates from him. That is the ultimate experience that we desire to achieve and avoid the adverse consequences that are detrimental when we associate with others of ill-repute.
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
Our Sages depict Korach’s rebellion with Moshe as a dispute that was not for the sake of Heaven. However, Korach’s error was actually much more than that, he initiated a full-blown mutiny against Moshe. The gist is that it began as an ostensibly small-scale mistake but broadened into a disastrous situation. ~S’FAS EMES