A Perverted Pretext To A Pusillanimous Protest In Pursuit Of A Pseudo-Power Through The Priesthood: Parashat Korach Reflections

Hebrew Vision News Exclusive

by Miykael Qorbanyahu aka The End Time Scribe

Torah: Numbers 16.1-18.32     Haftarah: Isaiah 66.1-24     Witness: Luke 18.35-19.28


“Every controversy which is pursued in a heavenly cause is destined to be perpetuated and that which is not pursued in a heavenly cause will not be perpetuated. What is a controversy for the sake of heaven? This is the controversy of Hillel and Shamai. And what is that controversy that is not pursued in a heavenly cause? This is the argument of Korach and his clan”

Pirke Avot 5:17

Moshe said to Korach, “Hear now, O offspring of Lewi: is it not enough for you that the Elohim of Israel has segregated you from the assembly of Israel to draw you near to Himself, to perform the service of the Tabernacle of יהוה and to stand before the assembly to minister to them? And He drew you near, and all your brethren, the offspring of Lewi with you – yet you seek [the high] priesthood as well! Therefore, you and your entire assembly that are joining together are against יהוה! And as for Aharon – what is he that you protest against him?”

Numbers 16.8-11


Image result for fickle quotesHuman nature, with all of its various propensities, can often be described as fickle. Given this description, we at times seemingly prefer the state of chaos over order, insatiability over contentment, and regularly complain about conditions that we’ve haphazardly created and woefully experience in all of our self-inflicted outcomes. There are also times when we gripe and moan over circumstances that occur when, in all objectivity, those circumstances are often not nearly as bad as we tend to make them out to be. In order to gratify our basic instincts for creature comfort, however, we occasionally lean towards a conflated embellishment of the occasion; then we like to overcompensate for our inadequacies and insecurities, and as a result we usually bring harm to ourselves and those who join us in the empty process of seeking to fulfill our own alternative agenda.

Shortsighted, irrational and hopelessly nostalgic, it is often a challenge for us to accept our present circumstances when difficulties appear as we tend to defer to our mis-perception of the present in hopes of reliving some disconnected experience from our past where our feigned imaginations of what was overrules our sapience and distorts our view of what is, which then casts aside the potential positive prospects of what can be. And to complicate matters even more, we usually find solace in dragging others into our miseries for the sake of spreading our ill perceived perspective of reality in hopes of garnering a supporting cast for our all consuming pity party as opposed to seeking reconciliation .

Image result for parashat korachSuch is the case with this week’s parashat Korach which focuses on an event that was led by an esteemed Levite who became the ringleader of a rebellion of 250 men of renown against Moshe, Aharon and ultimately, the Most High. As discontentment mounted and abounded in the wilderness, this particular episode presented yet another dynamic of internecine conflict within Israel by which the leadership of Moshe and Aharon were again called into question by individuals within Israel. Interestingly, we find the seeds for this mutiny planted in last week’s parashat, Shelach, where the Torah records these preposterous words from the people

All through that night, the entire community raised up their voices. The people wept. All the children of Israel grumbled against Moshe and Aharon and the whole community said, “If only we had died in Mitzrayim! If only we had died in this wilderness! Why is יהוה bringing us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be like plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Mitzrayim?” They said to each other, “Let’s choose a leader and let’s go back to Mitzrayim!”

Numbers 14.1-4

Seizing the opportunity in the midst of this particular nationally induced crisis, Korach ben Itzhar self-assumes the role of leader that the people had cried out for and positioned himself as the very opposition to the leadership of Moshe and Aharon that the people requested to lead them back into the bondage of Mitzrayim. It is said of Korach that he was an influential member of the Kohathites and was even one of the bearers of the Ark of the Covenant and that his quest for power was motivated by nothing less than cynicism. To provide further background details of Korach, the Jewish Encyclopedia informs of us the following:

The name “Korah” (קֹרַח) is explained by the Rabbis as meaning “baldness.” It was given to Korah on account of the gap or blank which he made in Israel by his revolt (Sanh. 109b). Korah is represented as the possessor of extraordinary wealth, he having discovered one of the treasures which Joseph had hidden in Egypt. The keys of Korah’s treasuries alone formed a load for three hundred mules (Pes. 119a; Sanh. 110a). He and Haman were the two richest men in the world, and both perished on account of their rapacity, and because their riches were not the gift of Heaven (Num. R. xxii. 7; comp. Ex. R. li. 1). On the other hand, Korah is represented as a wise man, chief of his family and as one of the Kohathites who carried the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders (Tan., ed. Buber, Ḳoraḥ, Supplement, 5; Num. R. xviii. 2).

Image result for korah questions mosesThe supercilious Korach, with all intents and purposes, was covetous of  Aharon’s office of High Priest and sought to usurp the priesthood by any means. Along with his feral pack of ravenous rebels, the fears and contrived discontent with the leadership of the sons of Amram and Yochebed were used a perverted pretext in the form of a parable to arouse the people against Moshe and Aharon in order to create a pusillanimous protest in pursuit of a pseudo-power that he thought he would derive from his usurpation of the priesthood. Directly challenging the leadership of Moshe, it is said in the oral tradition that prior to his attempt to overthrow Moshe and Aharon, he went before Moshe and interrogated him with the following questions:

“Does a ṭallit made entirely of blue wool need fringes?” To Moses’ affirmative answer Korah objected: “The blue color of the ṭallit does not make it ritually correct, yet according to thy statement four blue threads do so” (Num. xv. 38). “Does a house filled with the books of the Law need a mezuzah?” Moses replied that it did; whereupon Korah said: “The presence of the whole Torah, which contains 175 chapters, does not make a house fit for habitation, yet thou sayest that one chapter thereof does so. It is not from [Elohim] that thou hast received these commandments; thou hast invented them thyself.” He then assembled 250 men, chiefs of the Sanhedrin, and, having clad them in ṭallitot of blue wool, but without fringes, prepared for them a banquet. Aaron’s sons came for the priestly share, but Korah and his people refused to give the prescribed portions to them, saying that it was not [Elohim] but Moses who commanded those things. Moses, having been informed of these proceedings, went to the house of Korah to effect a reconciliation, but the latter and his 250 followers rose up against him.

Num. R. xviii. 2; Tan. l.c.; comp. Targ. pseudo-Jonathan to Num. xvi. 2

Following this episode, it was then that he attempted to turn the entire people of Israel against Moshe and Aharon as he accused the leadership of Moshe and Aharon for being tyrannical and unjust. Korach’s accusation of Moshe and Aharon to the people was framed in the form of a parable, which the Jewish Encyclopedia goes on to tell us that

Korah incited all the people against Moses, arguing that it was impossible to endure the laws instituted by the latter. He told them the following parable: “A widow, the mother of two young daughters, had a field. When she came to plow it, Moses told her not to plow it with an ox and an ass together (Deut. xxii. 10); when she came to sow it, Moses told her not to sow it with mingled seeds (Lev. xix. 19). At the time of harvest she had to leave unreaped the parts of the field prescribed by the Law, while from the harvested grain she had to give the priest the share due to him. The woman sold the field and with the proceeds bought two sheep. But the first-born of these she was obliged to give to Aaron the priest; and at the time of shearing he required the first of the fleece also (Deut. xviii. 4). The widow said: ‘I can not bear this man’s demands any longer. It will be better for me to slaughter the sheep and eat them.’ But Aaron came for the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the maw (ib. verse 3). The widow then vehemently cried out: ‘If thou persistest in thy demand, I declare them devoted to the Lord.’ Aaron replied: ‘In that case the whole belongs to me’ (Num. xviii. 14), whereupon he took away the meat, leaving the widow and her two daughters wholly unprovided for” (Num. R. xviii. 2-3; Tan., Ḳoraḥ, 4-6).

Image result for reconciliation

While many who may have been the target of such a vicious character attack would have eventually succumbed to the temptations of being completely dissembled and would have impulsively reacted to the accusations, Moshe, on the other hand, remained entirely composed and centered throughout the ordeal. In fact, the Torah records how Moshe responded to the circumstance, attempting to initially reconcile the disgruntled rebels, after they refused to respond to having a discussion with him. After being declined by the two, and castigated by the gathered group of disloyalists, Moshe made a powerful declaration to the entire assembly of Israel, stating

“By this you will know that יהוה has sent me to do all these works, that they are not from my own heart. If every one of these men die a common death and experience what happens to all people, then יהוה has not sent me. But if יהוה brings about a new thing, and the earth opens her mouth and swallows them and everything that is theirs, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you will know that these men have despised יהוה.”

Numbers 16.28-30

Image result for earth swallowing korah and rebelsHearkening back to the episode when Moshe killed the Mitzrite who he found beating his fellow Hebrew, as well as the pronouncement of death to the Egyptian-Israelite young man who blasphemed, responded to the circumstance with an utterance which spelled doom for those who were out of order. Pertaining to the Egyptian-Israelite young man blaspheming and being stoned, Prof. Shaul Regev of Bar Ilan University’s Parashat Hashavua Study Center writes in his article The Man Who Cursed, that

Three commentators relate to historical aspects of the incident, touching in their remarks on the second and third questions and also relating to the difficulty Moses had in himself passing sentence on the blasphemer – “and he was placed in custody, until the decision of the Lord should be made clear to them” (Lev. 24:12). Rabbi Isaac Caro (Toledot Yitzhak, Parashat Emor) provides the context for the blasphemer’s action. According to the Sages, the Egyptian man, the father of the blasphemer, was the same “Egyptian man” (ish Mizri) whom Moses had killed when he saw him hitting a Hebrew. The Midrash notes that Moses had killed the man by invoking the name of [Elohim].

Now, in the course of the fight between the son of the Egyptian man and the Israelite, the Israelite revealed to him how his father had died…When the son heard how his father had died, he wanted to take revenge, as it were, against the Divine Name that Moses had used to kill his father. That is also the reason why Moses asked the Holy One, blessed be He, how the blasphemer should be punished; for had he not asked, the onlookers might have thought that Moses was taking revenge on the half-Israelite because of his being the son of the Egyptian man. After the punishment was pronounced by the word of יהוה in the presence of the people, everyone saw that this was the law according to divine command.

Image result for power of the tetragrammatonAdept in the mysteries of the Torah and cosmic power that is available to those who have mastered themselves. What Moshe did in each of these instances was tap into the divine power of the tongue, through the science of sound and vibration, with the intonation of the Tetragrammaton whose power source was accessible to him to be what it will be for the circumstantial need. This secret power was divulged to Moshe while he was on Mt. Sinai for forty days and forty nights, receiving the Torah. Regarding his receiving the Torah, Nissan Dovid Dubov says this about this redefining moment in world history,

When Moses received the Torah at Sinai he received it body and soul, with the body of the Torah being its codes of law, and the soul of the Torah its mystical dimension. Moses was the perfect receptacle for this wisdom for he was the most humble man who ever lived. He had totally extinguished his ego and was simply a conduit for the Divine will. As the great-grandchildren of Levi; Moses, his brother Aaron, and his sister Miriam were well aware of the mystical tradition and prophetic experience, but Moses was the greatest of the prophets. All others received their prophecy while asleep in the form of a riddle or vision, whereas Moses received his prophecy while awake and with clarity. This is the meaning of the words “Moses received the Torah at Sinai.” In Hebrew the word for received is “kibel” which is also the root of the word Kabbalah (received) for the mystical tradition like all other parts of Torah received at Sinai is not a product of any human mind, however sophisticated.

For Moshe, this ordeal could have easily turned out to be about saving face and proving himself to be right, yet, being the humble man that he was, he yielded to that temptation and sought out divine counsel in the matter. Through supplication and intercession, Moshe utilized the powers available to him, for the sake of heaven, in order to quell the controversy that Korah and his band of rebels had initiated. In fact, when we examine verse thirty in Numbers 16, we find an extremely interesting and powerful formulation of words put together as recorded in the Torah;

וְאִם־בְּרִיאָה יִבְרָא יְהוָה וּפָצְתָה הָאֲדָמָה אֶת־פִּיהָ וּבָלְעָה אֹתָם וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם וְיָרְדוּ חַיִּים שְׁאֹלָה וִֽידַעְתֶּם כִּי נִֽאֲצוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה אֶת־יְהוָֽה

(transliteration) w’imB’riyähyiv’räy’hwähûfätz’tähádämähetPiyûväl’ähotämw’etKälásherhemw’yär’dûchaYiymsh’olähwiyda’TemKiyniátzûánäshiymëLehety’hwäh

The above conditional statement that Moshe intoned is rife with kabbalistic idioms, as it is well understood by Hebrews that language, and more specifically the Hebrew language, is responsible for the creation of the seen and unseen universe. Given this principle, when one has learned the inner workings of the letters and dynamics that are able to be made manifest when combining them to spell words, then one is able to wield great power and speak life, or death, into existence as did Moshe on the occasions previously mentioned. In order to comprehend the power that is contained in this utterance, let us examine the inner meaning of the text.

At the deepest meaning of this text, what Moshe invoked was yet, if the Self Existing one formulates the shape of heaven to cut down and tear apart the Earth by opening her mouth as a sign and she devours them and all that is in regards to them goes down alive into the lake of fire then you all shall surely perceive that these men have despised the Eternal’s sign.

Image result for vibrational power of wordsWith these words, the tonal vibration and frequency, in alignment with the elevated consciousness that Moshe was able to attain, resonated to the point that the words which came out of his mouth came to pass. This the power that is invested in a prophet, in that the words which they speak are able to create realities and call into being that which they intone. Later we see this principle demonstrated by the prophet Shemuel/Samuel, as we are told that he grew up and יהוה was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground. In this light, we must bear in mind that Adam was created to have dominion over the entire creation, given his connection to יהוה, this unique capability is one that we see demonstrated in Scripture with Joshua ben Nun who told the sun stand still, Elijah prayed for rain to cease and fire to fall, Jonah and Yahoshua ben Yoseph calmed the storm, and other instances also took place demonstrating  the power of יהוה on earth that can be channeled through man.

And so it is that all who have been called and sent by the Most High will at some time in their mission face opposition and pretexts as a diversion to deter, discourage and discredit the role that has been entered into by the messenger of יהוה. Nonetheless, for those who are called and sent to fulfill that mission, the example of Moshe in this week’s parashat should well suffice as a witness on how to respond to such an attack. What we must do, however, is remain in alignment with the intent, mission, vision and will of Heaven in order to access the latent power that is promised to those who are faithful and dedicated to keeping the commands of Elohim and the testimony of Yahoshua. For this is our endurance and our deliverance. Let this admonishment from Shimon Kepha be the encouragement and wisdom provided for us all persevere, even in the midst of hardship and trial.

Loved ones, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal taking place among you to test you—as though something strange were happening to you. Instead, rejoice insofar as you share in the sufferings of Messiah, so that at the revelation of His glory you may also rejoice and be glad. If you are insulted for the name of Messiah, you are fortunate, for the Spirit of esteem and of [Elohim] rests on you. For let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or evildoer or as a troublemaker. But if anyone suffers for following Messiah, let him not be ashamed, but let him [esteem Elohim] in this name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the house of [Elohim]. If judgment begins with us first, what will be the end for those who disobey the Good News of [Elohim]? Now, “if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what shall become of the [wicked] and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to [Elohim]’s will—let them trust their souls to a faithful Creator while continuing to do good.

Image result for suffering messiah




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