A Timely Warning
"That there not be like Korach and his assembly" (Bamidbar 17:5).
This warning against dissension and dispute mentioned in this weeks Torah reading came after the archetypical dissenter, Korach, and his entire family and cohorts were swallowed up by the earth for challenging the Divinely appointed authority of Moshe. The fire-pans of the 250 allies of Korach who had been consumed by a Heavenly flame were transformed into a covering for the Altar as a permanent reminder to those who are not the offspring of Aaron not to dare offering unauthorized incense.
The purpose of this was to ensure that Korachs tragic mistake should not be repeated. There is, however, an interesting insight that can be detected in this passage, one that is attributed to the Chafetz Chayim.
The dispute between Korach was a contest of black and white, with Moshe representing the unquestionable truth and Korachs challenge a total lie. There will never again be disputes between ordinary people where it is so clear-cut who is right.
It may be added that this is true when it comes to neighborly disputes or political differences between Left and Right, liberal and conservative. Each platform has a degree of right in it. But when it comes to the efforts of a modern-day Korach to challenge the authority the Torah grants in regard to education and religious affairs, it is a repetition of the black and white situation with no question as to who is right and who is wrong.
It is to such dissenters that the Torah issues a warning not to make Korachs mistake, a warning for Israel forever.