Israel Forever

For the week ending 16 June 2007 / 30 Sivan 5767

The Crumbling Coalition

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
"Korach and his company" are cited by our Sages in Pirkei Avot as an example of "a dispute not properly motivated which cannot endure".

Korach, whose name serves as the title of the Torah portion that will be read this Shabbat, led a rebellion against the Divinely designated authority of Moshe because of his personal ambition for power. For this purpose he created a broad coalition of supporters including some members of the Tribe of Reuven and 250 important dignitaries. The above-mentioned mishneh in Avot contrasts the dispute between the Sages Hillel and Shammai, which was motivated by a pure search for the truth in understanding Torah, and the dispute of "Korach and his company", pointing out that the former endured while the latter ended in tragedy.

The description of the dispute mentioned in our weekly Torah portion is that instead of calling it a dispute between Korach and Moshe as it refers to the halalchic debates of Hillel and Shammai, it calls it a dispute between Korach and his company.

The explanation given is that there was no real unity within the coalition of Korach. Each faction that joined it had its own agenda, united only by the ambition to challenge a common enemy. Such a coalition cannot endure.

This may be viewed as a valuable historical lesson regarding the coalitions that have been formed over the years to create governments in Israel – how many have been formed only to fade away. Only when governments are formed for Heaven's sake and with a true interest in the welfare of the people will they endure in Israel forever.

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