Torah reading
Torah reading צילום: Kupat Hair

:(Numbers 16:1-4)’ויקח קרח: And Korach son of Izhar son of Kahat son of Levi took, with Dathan and Abiram..and On..the offspring of Reuben. They stood before Moshe with two hundred and fifty men from the Children of Israel, leaders of the assembly, those summoned for meeting, men of renoun. They gathered together against Moshe and against Aaron 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?’.

Rav Baruch Halevi Epstein comments:’The word ‘took’ is not explained: what did Korach take?

‘To answer this, we have to consider the ensuing events, leading to the people ‘gathered together against Moshe and against Aaron’.

‘Perhaps we can expound that, at the outset, Korach did not have the courage to suddenly challenge Moshe. He therefore decided to bring his plan to fruition slowly; first, by ‘taking’ greatness to himself, in his own mind, and only then, assembling his cohorts’.

Rav Shimon Schwab adds:’Rashi comments that ‘Korach took himself to one side’, but we don’t find this stated, the Torah merely stating that ‘Korach took’.

‘In so doing, the Torah wanted to allude that, until the spirit of jealousy entered into the heart of Korach, he did not feel a sense of ‘self’. Indeed, Korach who was wise and had ruach hakodesh, and was one of the bearers of the holy Ark, had been totally devoted to the service of Hashem; when Moshe called, after the sin of the golden calf, ‘who is for Hashem, to me!’, Korach ran to answer the call.

‘However, it is human nature, as our Sages teach, that ‘jealousy and honor remove man from his world’, and Korach became a different person, and, as Rashi comments, ‘took himself’, his ego, and did what he did’.

Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch comments:’Literally read, our opening passuk has no subject; we have to say that all the subsequent events are the subject of what was taken.

‘From a logical viewpoint, ‘taking’ denoted unbecoming behavior by a person, for his own benefit. Korach here arrogated to himself the ‘right’ to challenge Moshe and Aaron, and their leadership.

‘By choosing the word ‘took’, the Torah is alluding that, whilst outwardly presenting his actions as for the benefit of all the people, Korach’s motive was solely for himself’.

The Malbim offers a different interpretation of ‘Korach took’, stating:’This taking was ‘taking by words, providing reasons for his rebellion: Since he was the oldest son of the second son of Levi, he, and not Aaron merited to be the Kohen Gadol. More so, since Moshe, the son of the oldest son of Levi, was already appointed as ‘King’, the next leadership role - that of Kohen Gadol - by right should go to Korach, not to Moshe’s brother, Aaron.

‘This is why the Torah relates that Korach was ‘the son of Izhar the son of Kahat the son of Levi’- to explain the basis of Korach’s claim.

‘The same applies to the arguments of Korach’s accomplices: they were, in turn, claiming as ‘the sons of Reuben’, Yaakov’s first-born, who staked their claim on this basis; and, in the case of the two hundred and fifty, as the Torah testifies, they were notables amongst the congregation, and, in their view, Moshe should have consulted them, and obtained their approval, before making his decisions.

‘Perhaps they even saw themselves as more worthy to be appointed, than the tribe of Leviim as an inheritance, without regard to their worthiness- as compare to thenselves’.

The Be’er Mayim Chaim offersthe following intriguing interpretation, of what Korach took: ‘ He took ‘the name Korach’! The first two letters of this name קר, allude to the word מקרה.

‘In his quest for honor, he claimed that the world was guided, not by Hashgacha Prarir, but by the natural order of things.

‘Therefore, he, as the oldest son of the second son of Levi, should have been appointed as the head of Bnei Kahat, just as Moshe, the son of the oldest son of Levi, was appointed to the position of leader of the people.

‘Instead, Moshe appointed Elizapan, the son of the fourth, and youngest son of Levi, to that position.

‘He therefore rebelled, claiming that Moshe, and not Hashem, had made that decision- as Hashem conducts the world solely according to the natural order.

‘This is why the Torah, in its opening passuk, sets out that Korach was the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kahat, the son of Levi’.

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin comments:’The word ‘people’ is ‘missing’ in the opening passuk: it should be read as ‘Korach took people..’, to his point of view.

‘How do you ‘take people’? Not physically, but by his words, by persuasive arguments and a slick tongue, that captures their hearts.

‘The Midrash explains: Korach dressed the two hundred and fifty notables in talitot that were completely techelet, and presented them before Moshe, ‘asking’: Do they need tzitziot, they being completely techelet in color? When Moshe answered: They do, they mocked him, saying that, if one thread of techelat fulfils the need for tziziot, surely a talit that is totally techelet should not need tzitziot’.

‘This is why our Parasha is juxtaposed to the Parasha of Tzitzit- that this is what Korach ‘took’: the tzitzit which were mentioned at the end of the preceding Parasha.

‘How does this assist their cause? In their minds, just as the talit which is wholly techelet does not require tzitzit to remind us of Hashem and His Mitzvot, so too, ‘the congregation of Hashem’, when ‘the entire assembly are holy’, do not require Aaron as Kohen Gadol’.

Rav Yosef Salant provides a concluding gem’ Our Sages bring the exposition of Rav Ashi, on the words:’Korach took’: ‘he took a bad deal for himself’. How are we to understand this? A ‘bad deal’ is when one acquires something, that turns out to have been unprofitable- ‘bad’, instead of ‘good’, as he had intended, but, notwithstanding the undesired outcome, there was a ‘deal’.

‘Here, in Korach’s case, all he ‘acquired’ was total loss and destruction, down to his life and all of his possessions- the language ‘bad deal’ and ‘took’ seems completely inappropriate.

‘The answer may be found by answering another conundrum: How could Korach, whom we are told was a wise man, pursue such a course of action, to so brazenly challenge Moshe Rabbeinu?

‘Answers the Midrash: His eye misled him! He saw in his ruach hakodesh that Shmuel, who is compared to Moshe and Aaron, would descend from him, and, as well, whole generations that would serve in the Beit Hamikdash.

‘He therefore opined: if such great people are my descendants, surely it must be in my great merit, and this ‘proves’ that I will be the one chosen by Hashem.

‘Why then- here we ask - did the merit of these righteous drscendants not save Korach from his awesome fate? And, more intriguingly, how did he merit to have such descendants?

‘The answer offered by one of the Sages of Jerusalem of an earlier period, is wondrous: Because of his fate, Korach merited to have such righteous descendants!

‘By his awesome fate, the belief in Moshe and the Torah was reinforced beyond measure in the eyes of Bnei Israel, who saw the punishment meted from Above, to anyone who challenged Moshe and his mission.

‘Because of this, Korach merited to have these illustrious descendants!

‘This is the ‘bad deal for himself’ that resulted for Korach: FOR HIM it was a ‘bad deal’; but for the rest of the nation, it was truly a good deal, as they acquired greater emunah in Moshe and his divins mission’.

לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.