A creeping dynamic has been at play since the outset of the Book of Numbers, and it comes to the fore in the story of Korach: the question of authority, fame, and service.

Specifically, how do we balance our innate desire and need for recognition and authority with a spirit of submission and selflessness? In order to fully appreciate the story, we first need to retrace our steps. At the start of Numbers, God instructs Moses to appoint heads of the tribes to assist in the counting of all the Israelites. “With you [and Aaron] will be one man for each tribe, each man the head of his ancestral house” (Num. 1:4). The Torah goes on to list the names of each of the men. “For the tribe of Reuben, Elitzur ben Shedeiur. For the tribe of Simeon, Shelumiel ben Tzurishaddai.” And so on.


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