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Was Korach Revolting?

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Topic: Korach, Villain

Sarah Walsh from New York, NY wrote:
Dear Rabbi

My name is Sarah, and my bat mitzvah portion is Korach from the book of Numbers, and I am having trouble understanding why Korach is a villain, if he was by birthright a priest? Does Korach have the right to question the leadership authority of Moses? If not, why not? Is rebellion necessarily bad?

Dear Sarah Walsh,

Actually Korach was by birth a Levite, and he was not content with that. He felt that he should get more honor and prestige. He created an entire rebellion, created hatred and arguments and divided the Jewish people - all for the sake of his honor, and his ego.

In addition, think of what Korach had witnessed in his life. He saw Moses lead the Jews out of Egypt, cross the Red Sea, bring down the mannah in the desert, and then Korach perceived/prophesied G-d speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai. So rebellion is bad when:

  • It is for the sake of ego and personal honor
  • It contravenes facts
  • It ignores basic moral ideas like gratitude

For further study may I suggest the commentary of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on Korach.

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