•Parshat Korach•

Parshas KORACH (Numbers 16-18)

Korach means ”baldness” and ”ice”. Questions: Why would anyone name their child ‘baldness’? Another question is, what is the connection between ‘ice’ and ‘baldness’? IMHO, both baldness and ice have the quality of ‘smoothness’, of something being removed and smoothed over. So, in the positive sense, perhaps ”korach” might be understood as something that removes obstruction.

Perhaps Mr. Korach saw himself as a selfless ‘facilitator of removing social/spiritual obstructions’, or a ”Smoother”. What could have Korach seen himself as ”smoothing over”?

Perhaps we might suggest that Korach tried to promote himself as a SOCIAL ‘equalizer’, ”smoothing” over social inequalities in his society, in order to have some kind of credible cause to justify his claims to leadership.
Of course we know that Go’d did not approve of Korach’s attempts to launch a communist-like insurection against the greatest prophet ever, who was the most selfless human being ever as well, Moses.

The overwhelmingly paralizing (to me at least) question is, if Mr. Korach himself erred in his moral judgement, in spite of being on such high spiritual level, how can ANYONE hope to succeed to remain on path which is spiritually true and pure?

To this very serious question, I remember hearing Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss’s of Agudas Yisrael of Staten Island answer: our advantage is that we have the PARSHAS KORACH to guide us!!!

Go’d saw Korach’s REAL motivation: to grab power for himself. Hence the miraculous sign given to Israel: a blooming/fruitful staff of Moses’ brother Aharon, which gave out almonds. Why almonds?

The Hebrew word for almond, ”sheked”, also means “to watch, wake”, and the almond tree is so called, because it is the tree which flourishes ( = awakens) first.”
This opinion was given by Rashi on Yirmiyahu 1:11-12 (and Rashi was likely influenced by midrash Yerushalmi Taanit 4:5). The verse there has a play on words:
וַיְהִי דְבַר-ה’ אֵלַי לֵאמֹר, מָה-אַתָּה רֹאֶה יִרְמְיָהוּ; וָאֹמַר, מַקֵּל שָׁקֵד אֲנִי רֹאֶה. יב וַיֹּאמֶר ה’ אֵלַי, הֵיטַבְתָּ לִרְאוֹת: כִּי-שֹׁקֵד אֲנִי עַל-דְּבָרִי, לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ.
(The word of God came to me: “What do you see Yirmiyahu?” I replied, “I see a branch of an almond tree”. God said to me: “You have seen right, for I am watchful to bring my word to pass.”)
Rashi writes, “The almond tree hastens to blossom before all the other trees – so too will I hasten to perform my word.”(source http://www.balashon.com/2009/02/shaked.html?m=1)
So the symbolism of the almond-sprouting staff seems to be a lesson of Go’ds promise to being sure to deliver His deeply discerning salvation, even from a seemingly sterile source, such as a dried-out wooden staff.
The number of verses in parshas Korach is •95• {same as the name ‘Daniel’, which means ”Go’ds judgement”}.

Let’s see what the theme of psalm 95 is:
1. Come, let us sing praises to the Lord; let us shout to the rock of our salvation.
2. Let us greet His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout to Him with songs.
3. For the Lord is a great God and a great King over all divine powers.
4. In Whose hand are the depths of the earth, and the heights of the mountains are His.
5. For the sea is His, He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
6. Come, let us prostrate ourselves and bow; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker.
7. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the flocks of His hand, today, if you hearken to my voice.
8. Do not harden your heart as [in] Meribah, as [on] the day of Massah in the desert.
9. When your ancestors tested Me; they tried Me, even though they had seen My work.
10. Forty years I quarreled with a generation, and I said, “They are a people of erring hearts and they did not know My ways.”
11. For which reason I swore in My wrath, that they would not enter My resting place.
(chabad.org translation)
Psalm 95 seems to resonate with the same sentiment as parshas Korach, in a more poetic form: Go’d judges us taking into consideration the complete infinite spectrum of nature in all its rich variety and differing circumstances andsettings: oceans & dry land, heaven and earth, etc, etc…

Go’ds infinite discerning wisdom placed Moses ‘on the mountain’, and Korach, ‘in the depths’. Korach was WRONG. and ultimately UNWORTHY of leadership.
Korach tried to reduce Go’ds Presence to a one-dimensional simplistic scheme: ”All of Israel is holy, so we should eradicate our society’s differences, and become uniform holy clones, under Korach’s leadership of course…
The very last verse of the parsha seems to encapsulate the lesson to avoid falling into Korach’s trap:
Israel, as a multi-dimensional, multi-tribal nation is allowed to be independent society of INDIVIDUALS, which nevertheless is commanded to offer to Go’d the very best of itself AS A COHESIVE RELIGIOUS UNITY!!! (Even though of course EVERYTHING needs to be dedicated to Go’d, only the very BEST is fit to be officcially offerred:
(Num.18:32) ‘After you separate the choicest part from it, you shall not bear any sin on account of it, but you shall not profane the sacred [offerings] of the children of Israel, so that you shall not die.’

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