Korach Torah Portion: Numbers 16:1–18:32
Parshat Korach tells the story of the great political rebellion that was staged by Korach and his followers. We've seen members of the people of Israel approach Moses and Aaron and complain before, but never like this. What Korach attempts is nothing short of a coup. Take a look at his words to Moses and Aaron: "You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation
At first glance, it may seem that Korach is a populist hero. He's speaking up for the holiness that resides in all people, making an attractive egalitarian claim, suggesting that there's a problem with the hierarchy that is inherent to the Torah's leadership model, with Moses and the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) at the top, and everyone else below. You may even be inclined to sympathize with Korach and his cause. But if you read on in the story, it's clear that God does not. God sends a plague against the people who supported the rebellion, and ultimately has Korach swallowed up by the earth. God's wrath is so inflamed that Moses needs to advocate on behalf of the people and plead with God not to destroy Israel altogether.
So it's clear that God isn't pleased with Korach's rebellion – but to understand
He is actually Moses and Aaron's first cousin, a member of the tribe of Levi, from the family of Kehat. While not the primary leader of the nation — like Moses — and not the High Priest — like Aaron — Korach enjoys an illustrious position in his own right. The Levites were set aside and gifted the responsibility of caring for the Mishkan, the Tabernacle.
The Sages even tell us that Korach was personally entrusted with carrying the Holy Ark on his
So what did Korach really want? Was there a gap between what he said and what we
If you want to learn more about Korach and this bizarre account, we've got you covered. In "Why Did Korach Rebel?," Rabbi Fohrman puts forth a theory about the true reason for Korach's rebellion — and links it, in fascinating ways, to the meaning of Korach's name. Imu Shalev and David Block offer their own interpretation of Korach's complaints in their video, "Rejecting Israel's Leaders." And in our latest video, Ami Silver unearths a fascinating "backstory" that sheds a whole new light on where Korach comes from and what was really going on inside his head.
What follows Korach's rebellion, in what's left of this