Korach: Blessed is the Daughter

On the wisdom and determination of Jewish women.

Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen,

 Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen
Rabbi Yehuda HaKohen

"Korach son of Yitzhar son of Kehat son of Levi separated himself, with Datan and Aviram, sons of Eliav, and On son of Pelet, the offspring of Reuven. They stood before Moshe, leaders of the assembly, those summoned for meeting, men of renown. They gathered together against Moshe and against Aharon and said to them, 'It is too much for you! For the entire assembly - all of them - are holy and HaShem is among them; why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of HaShem?'" (Bamidbar 16:1-3)

Korach - a highly respected Levite and cousin to Moshe - brazenly accuses two of Israel's greatest leaders of
It has often been women who have shown themselves to be the true saviors of Israel.
covetously assuming chief positions in Israel and elevating themselves above the Hebrew Nation. In what seems to be a gallant protest on behalf of the masses, Korach portrays G-d's chosen shepherds as corrupt officials not worthy of their status. But Korach's populist claims are impure. By masquerading as a champion of the people, he attempts to spark a revolution meant to advance him and his cronies to power in place of Moshe. And worse, by rejecting the Divine selections of Moshe and Aharon, Korach is rejecting the holy word of HaShem.

Korach is accompanied in his attempted coup d'etat by a number of esteemed Israeli leaders, providing for himself a stamp of legitimacy. One of his followers, however, is conspicuously absent from the story following his initial introduction.

On son of Pelet had been one of the leaders of the attempted rebellion, yet he is not mentioned in the confrontations and punishments that later occur. The sages teach (Sanhedrin 109b) that On's righteous wife persuaded her husband to withdraw from Korach's group.

She said "What do you have to gain from this? Even if Korach is successful, he will be the High Priest and you will serve him as you currently serve Moshe and Aharon."

She then prevented Korach from coaxing her husband back into the feud by sitting with her hair uncovered outside of her home. Korach - like all men of Israel - would not permit himself to see a married woman's hair and, as a result, gave up on the idea of recruiting On. Due to her wise intervention and willingness to shame herself publicly by uncovering her hair, On's wife saved her husband from harm and protected her family from terrible catastrophe.

Throughout our history, it has often been women who have shown themselves to be the true saviors of Israel. While the spotlight in Scripture generally shines on male figures, many of these heroes are only able to achieve greatness due to the loyal support and self-sacrifice of their wives. Women of Israel, who modestly work as silent partners to their husbands, often shy away from honor while providing both support and understanding to their men from the home.

The story of On and his wife is a perfect example of a man whose righteous wife was able to think clearly for her family. Unlike Korach's wife, whose endless nagging and belittling of her husband had actually provoked the attempted mutiny, On's wife heroically brought her husband back from his delusions. With a wisdom and determination so common amongst the daughters of Israel, she succeeded in keeping her husband away from conflict, while at the same time building a strong Torah home on the foundations of G-d's truth.