Saturday, July 01, 2006


Korach is one of only two Jews who has a portion named after im. The other is Pinchas. Both are great men, zealous for God. However, Pinchas' zeal in killing blasphemers of God is seen as justified and positive and reflects a radical approach to intermarriage, ie: spear through their bellies. Korach too wants to be close to God, though he disparages Moses and Aaron in the process.

It is in interesting to see the varied mindset of these former slaves. Last week they were first jubilant over seeing the land they would conquer, then frightened and terrified when they heard of the inhabitants, then repentful and zealous when faced with their fate for disbelief and now boastful and rebellious against their leader. If they indeed have a slave mentality, then they are violently shaking it off and are rapidly taking their personalities to the extremes.

In this parasha we see the humility and mortality of Moses. When faced with the prospect of rebellion he falls on his face in submission

Wikipedia gives very interesting cross-references from the Quran of all places. You've probably never seen a Dvar Torah which references the Quran, but I like it for the sake of novelty as well as a random comparitive approach.

Qaaroon was from among Moses' people, but he betrayed them. And We gave him such treasures that the keys thereof were almost too heavy for the strongest person. His people said to him: "Do not become too happy, for God does not like such kind of joy. And seek with the provisions bestowed upon you by God the abode of the Hereafter, and do not forget your share in this world, and do good as God has done good to you. And do not seek corruption in the land. God does not like the corruptors." He said: "I have attained all this only because of my own knowledge." Did he not realise that God had annihilated before him generations that were much stronger than he, and greater in riches? The transgressors were not asked about their crimes.Then he came out among his people draped in his ornaments. Those who preferred this worldly life said: "Oh, if only we were given similar to what Qaaroon has been given. Indeed, he is very fortunate." And those who were blessed with knowledge said: "Woe to you! The reward from God is far better for those who believe and do good works. And none attains it except the steadfast." We then caused the Earth to swallow him and his mansion. He had no group that could protect him against God; nor would he be victorious. And those who wished they were in his place the day before said: "Indeed it is God Who provides or restricts for whomever He chooses from among His servants. Had it not been for God's grace towards us, He could have caused the Earth to swallow us as well. We now realise that the rejecters never succeed." Such will be the abode of the Hereafter; We reserve it for those who do not seek prestige on Earth, nor corruption. And the end belongs to the righteous. Whoever brings forth a good deed, he will receive a better reward than it. And whoever brings forth a sin then the retribution for their sins will be to the extent of their deeds. -Quran 28:74-84

We have a similar concept in Judaism, Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah, Aveirah Goreret Aveirah, a good deed is the consequence for a good deed, a bad deed the consequence for a bad deed.

This Parasha cements the Aaronic priests as the legacy of the priesthood, not simple levitical priests. The mouth of the earth, which possibly earlier made an appearance under the Sea of Reeds swallowing up the Egyptians now swallows up the rebels, Korach, Dathan, and Aviram. These three names may be familiar if you have seen the movie "The Ten Commandments". Dathan, the Chief Hebrew Overseer, Aviram his brother, and Korach, the guy they assign to minister to the Golden Calf, these two stories, that of the Golden Calf and that of Korach's Rebellion get contracted in this movie, but I now see wisdom in that, these stories are very similar. Why is Moses and God considered "panim el panim", "face-to-face"? They both have similar experiences. The institution of the Golden Calf threatens God's role as deity and Korach tries to usurp Moses's position (actually Aaron's too...). I feel these are the two real rebellions we have. Sure we have complaining all over the place, but that's what Jews do, and we get punished for it, but these two events are true mutiny. Make of this what you will. I must travel. Shabbat Shalom.

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