It's a bit like secondary smoking

Would you have joined Korach's rebellion?

Contact Editor
Phil Chernofsky,

Torah scroll with yad (archive)
Torah scroll with yad (archive)
Rachael Cerrotti/Flash 90

Back in Parshat Ki Tisa, we read about the sin of the golden calf. 3000 people - it seems - were actively involved in the sin. They were the ones how were struck dead. What about the rest of the people? The 3000 constituted less than half of a percent of the adult mail population. What about the other 99% Okay, we know that the Leviyim came out of that fiasco on a positive side, but what about everyone else?

In last week's sedra of Sh'lach, we read about the sin of the spies. Ten major sinners. Two acquitted themselves admirably and correctly. The Ten were struck dead on the spot. What about the rest of the people? We know what the decree was concerning the adult male population of that generation. More soon.

In this week's sedra, we read about Korach, Datan and Aviram and those they recruited to join their rebellion. We know what happened to the 250 people who offered incense before G-d, as per Moshe's challenge. We know about the fate of Korach, Datan and Aviram and those who joined them. But what about all the rest of the people?

Actually, we know that an additional 14,700 people died after - let's call it, a second wave of rebellion. That still leaves the overwhelming majority of the people of that generation.
When we read and study Torah, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions. Questions that we cannot answer with certainty, but questions we must ponder, nonetheless.

Would I have been one of the 3000 worshipers or revelers of the golden calf? I'd like to say with some feeling of confidence, that I would not have been. Would I have rallied to Moshe call? Harder question to answer. Would I have done nothing, like most people at the time?

Same, same. Would you be a NACHBI or a KALEV? Would you be a PALTI or a YEHOSHUA? Harder question: If you were 'just' one of the people of Israel, a regular person, not a leader - how would you have reacted to the whole scene when the Twelve Scouts returned?

Would you have joined Korach's rebellion? Would you have accused Moshe and Aharon of killing off the people of Israel after witnessing what happened to Korach's gang?

Or would you have maintained complete faith in G-d and trust in Moshe Rabeinu to stand up and take an unpopular stand? How can we really answer any of these questions? So why ask them?

Because the Torah tells us what it does so that we will work on ourselves to be the best person and Jew we can be. Torah is loaded with lessons and guidelines. Learn them.



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