Korach, Datan and Aviram, and 250 leaders of Israel rebel against the authority of Moshe and Aharon. The rebellion results in their being swallowed by the earth. Many resent their death and blame Moshe. G-d's "anger" is manifest by a plague that besets the nation, and many thousands perish. Moshe intercedes once again for the people. He instructs Aharon to atone for them and the plague stops. Then G-d commands that staffs, each inscribed with the name of one of the tribes, be placed in the Mishkan. In the morning the staff of Levi, bearing Aharon's name, sprouts, buds, blossoms and yields ripe almonds. This provides Divine confirmation that Levi's tribe is chosen for priesthood and verifies Aharon's position as Kohen Gadol, High Priest. The specific duties of the levi'im and kohanim are stated. The kohanim were not to be landowners, but were to receive their sustenance from the tithes and other mandated gifts brought by the people. Also taught in this week's Parsha are laws of the first fruits, redemption of the firstborn, and other offerings.
The Commissars Car
"Why do you exalt yourselves up over the congregation of Hashem?" (15:3)
There are two kinds of jealousy in this world. Capitalism embodies one and Communism the other.
The first kind of jealousy goes like this: "Look at the car you have! Its huge! Its so shiny! So nice! Im going to get me a huger, shinier, nicerer car than you!! Just you wait and see!"
Thats the jealousy on which Capitalism is based.
The jealousy of Communism goes like this: "Look at the car you have! Its huge! Its so shiny! So nice! Im going to make sure that youre car is smaller, duller, and ordiniarier than mine! In fact I wont rest till your car is so small and dull and ordinary that it ceases to exist!! Just you wait and see!" Thats the jealousy of Communism.
Of the two, the jealousy of Communism is infinitely worse, which is possibly why Communism is a political fossil today while Capitalism is still as rampant and rapacious as ever.
In this weeks parsha, the Ibn Ezra says Korach rebelled immediately after the inauguration of the Mishkan. Why? Originally, the firstborn were designated to serve in the Mishkan. When the firstborn lost this merit Aharon and his sons received the honor. Korach was jealous of Aharon and his sons because they were the only ones designated to replace the firstborn. Korach himself was a firstborn and felt that he had as much right and more to perform the service. Thus, he enlisted "two hundred and fiftyleaders of the assembly (16:2) who were also firstborns. In addition, Datan, Aviram and On joined the rebellion for their own reasons of jealousy. They were from the tribe of Reuven which lost its firstborn status to the Yosefs children (Bereshet 48:5).
Korach said to Moshe,"Why do you exalt yourselves up over the congregation of Hashem?" Rashi explains, "You have taken much too much greatness for yourselves."
In other words, Korach didnt complain that he hadnt been elevated along with them. He wanted to bring them down to his level.
Jealousy is one of the most serious character flaws and we should do our utmost to distance ourselves from it. Jealousy rots the bones. However, a jealousy that seeks to bring others down rather than raising ourselves up is the worst jealousy of all.
- Based on the Chafetz Chaim