News from the past
The revolt in the Israelite camp reached its climax at a mass meeting of the rebels. The majority of the speakers were from the tribe of Reuben. In their so far sharpest attack the rebels questioned Moses and Aaron and held them guilty for usurpation and severe mismanagement. They called for an immediate return of the people to Egypt and warned clearly that under the continued leadership of Moses the people of Israel would be led into disaster. One of the speakers said: “Nobody believes in the empty promises that this man has uttered. We will never see a land of milk and honey, but only desert.” The speaker suggested choosing new leadership and returning to Egypt. Among the rebels is the famous singer songwriter Korach from the tribe of Levy, who became famous by performances in the sanctuary with his sons.
Bulletin: We have just received the news that Korach and his supporters, who took part in the rebellion against Moses, died this morning in a tragic manner. In front of thousands of people, who watched terrified, they literally sank into the ground, as a rift broke up and dragged the man, whom Moses had told to stand at that place, into the depth. No trace could be found of the rebels so far. Among the missing are Dathan and Abiram, the leaders of the tribe of Reuben. Strangely the sons of Korach had just composed a song saying “You have put me at the bottom of the Pit” (Ps 88:7). They probably would never have thought that they themselves would actually experience this.
The enquiries so far prove that the strange disappearance of Korach and his fans was very likely caused by a divine interference, as the revolt was about the question whether Israel is holy. The rebels had claimed that the whole people of Israel are holy. This opinion was new, as Moses had so far always preached that one should strive to become holy, one should strive to be a moral and religious people. Moses published some guidelines to help this striving. The rebels had sharply attacked this teaching and had proclaimed, the whole people of Israel as it is, is holy. They understood holy as being special, with no need of guidance in religious matters. It looks, as if God had now had separated the rebels from the rest of the community, to avoid the spread of their teachings.
A different topic. Religious institutions need your support; this was revealed in a recently published law by Moses. The law says that 10% of one’s income should be given to support the house of God. Responsible for the administration of the donations and also for the religious services in general will be the family of Aaron.
Information based on Parashat Korach, Numbers 16-18.
Dr Annette M. Boeckler
The views expressed in this D’var Torah do not necessarily reflect the position of Leo Baeck College.