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   by Jacob Solomon

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(Korach and his fellow-rebels) gathered together against Moses andAaron and said to them: 'You are taking on too much! For the entire congregation is holy - G-d is amongst them. And why do you make yourselves princes over the congregation of Israel?' (16:3)

The Ramban explains that Korach felt resentful against Moses and Aaron's concentrating the leadership of the Israelites in their own hands - right from the very start. However, they knew that Moses was so beloved by his own people that they dared not take him on. But later, the people were most disappointed, after hearing of G-d's decree of forty years wandering in the desert following the sin of the twelve spies. And therefore Korach judged the general Israelite feeling of dissatisfaction as the right time to incite his rebellion.

The Ramban also follows Rashi, who states that Korach was jealous of the position of Eltzafan ben Uziel's being placed as head over the Kehat sub-tribe of Levi (3:30), when on paper at least, he had a better claim.

The Ramban's explanation may be extended. The noxious traits of jealously and deep-seated desire for honor are common with much of humanity. A person's genuine hard work over a long period (with many setbacks en route), plus siyatta dish-maya (Divine help) bring him advancement in his career and his influence. Others jealously gossip behind his back with 'it's not fair' 'he was such a "nebbich" at school'. Those with a little more courage crawl out of the woodwork with that oily-familiar little line: 'I'm like to help you.' 'You've got too much on your plate - you can't possibly do all that on your own.' And then: 'Would you like to join forces?'

The secret agenda is often Korach's - in stages, slyly edge that person away from the center and get one's feet further and further under the table… with 'I'm helping out…' (which should be translated to: 'I'm helping myself ').

Once the Israelites were in the Promised Land - settled and distributed in the Promised Land, there would be plenty of opportunities for Korachs of this world to find their niches in society - for good, or for bad. Until the decree, it might only have been a matter of a few years ahead, after the conquest. But once the notion that the Israelites would never even set foot in the Holy Land took root, Korach believed that he would not get the chance to achieve his selfish ambitions in his lifetime. And instead of finding a way that he could be of help - such as Eldad and Meidad (11:27-29), he launched his self-aggrandizement plan of action at Moses expense…

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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