THE PUNISHMENT of Korah, a detail from the fresco ‘Punishment of the Rebels’ by Sandro Botticelli in the Sistine Chapel.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
In this week’s Torah portion, we read about the rebellion led by Korah, one of the respected members of the tribe of Levi, against Moses and Aaron. This rebellion, led under the guise of ideology, was quickly revealed to be motivated by the desire for power and rule. It ended when a miracle occurred in front of the entire nation: The earth opened up and swallowed the leaders of the rebellion.People did not bring about this horrific end; God did. For the rebellion was not against one man or another but was actually against God’s determination regarding the nation’s leadership on its way to the Land of Israel. The appointment of Moses as leader was not made by man, and certainly not by Moses himself. The same goes for the appointment of Aaron to the priesthood. The leaders of the rebellion were fully aware of this. Their intent was to break free of Moses’s leadership while breaking free of God’s purpose – having them enter the Land of Israel, where they were to establish a Jewish state built on values of morality and Torah.