Qorach vs. Moshe

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)


The Torah tells us the story of the rebellion of Qorach (also spelled Qorah, Korach, Korah) and his followers. I would like to take a deeper look at this intriguing story.


Lets first review this text so that we can begin to understand it’s depth:


Bamidbar (Numbers) 16:1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;

2  and they rose up in face of Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty men; they were princes of the congregation, the elect men of the assembly, men of renown;

3  and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them: ‘Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and HaShem is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of HaShem?’

4  And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.

5  And he spoke unto Korah and unto all his company, saying: ‘In the morning HaShem will show who are His, and who is holy, and will cause him to come near unto Him; even him whom He may choose will He cause to come near unto Him.

6  This do: take you censors, Korah, and all his company;

7  and put fire therein, and put incense upon them before HaShem to-morrow; and it shall be that the man whom HaShem doth choose, he shall be holy; ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.’

8  And Moses said unto Korah: ‘Hear now, ye sons of Levi:

9  is it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of HaShem, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them;

10  and that He hath brought thee near, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee? and will ye seek the priesthood also?

11  Therefore thou and all thy company that are gathered together against HaShem; and as to Aaron, what is he that ye murmur against him?’

12  And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; and they said: ‘We will not come up;

13  is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, but thou must needs make thyself also a prince over us?

14  Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards; wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.’

15  And Moses was very wroth, and said unto HaShem: ‘Respect not Thou their offering; I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.’

16  And Moses said unto Korah: ‘Be thou and all thy congregation before HaShem, thou, and they, and Aaron, tomorrow;

17  and take ye every man his fire-pan, and put incense upon them, and bring ye before HaShem every man his fire-pan, two hundred and fifty fire-pans; thou also, and Aaron, each his fire-pan.’

18  And they took every man his fire-pan, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood at the door of the Tent of Meeting with Moses and Aaron.

19  And Korah assembled all the congregation against them unto the door of the tent of meeting; and the glory of HaShem appeared unto all the congregation.

20  And HaShem spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying:

21 ‘Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.’

22  And they fell upon their faces, and said: ‘O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt Thou be wroth with all the congregation?’

23  And HaShem spoke unto Moses, saying:

24  ‘Speak unto the congregation, saying: Get you up from about the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’

25  And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.

26  And he spoke unto the congregation, saying: ‘Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be swept away in all their sins.’

27  So they got them up from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side; and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, and their sons, and their little ones.

28  And Moses said: ‘Hereby ye shall know that HaShem hath sent me to do all these works, and that I have not done them of mine own mind.

29  If these men die the common death of all men, and be visited after the visitation of all men, then HaShem hath not sent Me.

30 But if HaShem make a new thing, and the ground open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down alive into the pit, then ye shall understand that these men have despised HaShem.’

31 And it came to pass, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground did cleave asunder that was under them.

32 And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

33  So they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit; and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the assembly.

34  And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them; for they said: ‘Lest the earth swallow us up.’

35 And fire came forth from HaShem, and devoured the two hundred and fifty men that offered the incense.


* * *


Qorach was a very great man, though one must read carefully to appreciate this fact. The name of this Torah reading, Qorach, provokes an obvious question: Why is this portion named after a man who appears to be very wicked? It is written:


Proverbs 10:7 The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.


To understand the answer to this question, we must remember that Qorach’s identity is perpetuated forever, since the Torah is eternal.


From a mystical perspective,[1] it is explained that Qorach’s desires reflected the spiritual heights to be reached in the era of the redemption. Qorach’s problem was a problem with timing. He was ahead of his time. Unfortunately, this bad timing also manifested a split in the congregation. Thus we see that Qorach was appropriately named, for the Hebrew root word qorach means “division” or “split”,[2] and Chazal, Our Sages,[3] associate Qorach, not only in fact, but also in essence, with the  cause of a division. The Targum Onkelos tells us that Qorach made a ‘division’.


Targum Onkelos to Numbers 16:1 But Korach bar Izhar bar Kahath bar Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On bar Pelath of the Beni Reuben, made a division.


In the Messianic age, the Levites (Qorach’s tribe) will be elevated to the station of priests, and the entire Jewish people will reach pinnacles of spiritual experience, as we read in the Prophet Yoel:


Yoel 3:1-2 And it shall come to pass afterward, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 2 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.


Now that we realize that Qorach was a great man, we can begin to understand his sin.


The commentators explain that Qorach’s sin was an infraction, for which there is no room for forgiveness. First, his declaration that Moshe had no right to lead a nation in which everybody was holy, contradicts the order of creation. The world was created upon the principle of a mashpia (giver), one who influences, who inspires others, and on a mekabel (receiver), one who is influenced, who accepts from him. This is the relationship of male and female, heaven and earth, rebbe and talmid, teacher and student. Just as there is nothing on this physical world that is not in some way connected to the spiritual world from which it receives its sustenance, so, too, is everything in this world sustained through the mashpia/mekabel process. Qorach wanted to exist beyond the parameters that HaShem set for this world. He wanted everyone to be equal. This indicated rebellion against HaShem’s course of directing the world.


The Jewish Encyclopedia, in the article “Sun“, tells us the following:


The sun and the moon are employed as symbols in the Kabbala. Generally, the sun is masculine and represents the principal or independent—technically it is the “giver” (“mashpia’”); Abraham is the sun; so is Samuel, because he was independent, accepting no gift or fee from any one.[4] The moon is feminine, and represents the secondary or dependent—technically the “receiver” (“mekabbel”). Thus the sun means the father; the moon, the mother. Moses and Aaron; the rich man and the poor man; the Torah and the Talmud; Rabbi and Rabina (or R. Ashi), are respectively the sun and the moon (Heilprin, “‘Erke ha-Kinnuyim,” s.v. ). Samson’s name denotes “sun,” as he, likewise, was independent. The initial letters of the names Samuel, Moses, and Samson spell “shemesh” (= “sun”). The Messiah is the sun: “And his throne as the sun before me”.[5]


  1. How do we understand this dispute? What was the root reason behind this dispute?


The root reason is that Qorach believed that they had already entered the Messianic age. He disputed that he had to be a receiver. It was Qorach’s understanding that he had become a giver, along with the other two-hundred and fifty men. They believed that they no longer needed to be receivers. There was no more rebbe and talmid. We are all holy, we are all Shabbat, we are all the sun, we are all givers.


The face of Moshe was like the face of the sun, where the face of Joshua was like the face of the moon.[6]


The Hebrew word for afternoon is צוהריים  tzoharayam, this word has the same gematria as Moshe = 345. The value is equal because the afternoon is when the sun is shining the brightest, and Moshe is the sun.


Not all those who were in Qorach’s company were enticed:


Sanhedrin 109b  Rab said: On, the son of Peleth, was saved by his wife. Said she to him, ‘What matters it to thee? Whether the one [Moses] remains master or the other [Korah] becomes master, thou art but a disciple.’ He replied, ‘But what can I do? I have taken part in their counsel, and they have sworn me [to be] with them.’ She said, ‘I know that they are all a holy community, as it is written, seeing all the congregation are holy, everyone of them. [So,]’ she proceeded, ‘Sit here, and I will save thee.’ She gave him wine to drink, intoxicated him and laid him down within [the tent]. Then she sat down at the entrance thereto and loosened her hair. Whoever came [to summon him] saw her and retreated. Meanwhile, Korah’s wife joined them [the rebels] and said to him [Korah], ‘See what Moses has done. He himself has become king; his brother he appointed High Priest; his brother’s sons he hath made the vice High Priests. If terumah is brought, he decrees, Let it be for the priest; if the tithe is brought, which belongs to you [i.e., to the Levite], he orders, Give a tenth part thereof to the priest. Moreover, he has had your hair cut off, and makes sport of you as though ye were dirt; for he was jealous of your hair.’ Said he to her, ‘But he has done likewise!’ She replied, ‘Since all the greatness was his, he said also, Let me die with the Philistines. Moreover, he has commanded you, Set [fringes] of blue wool [in the corners of your garments]; but if there is virtue in blue wool, then bring forth blue wool, and clothe thine entire academy therewith.’ Thus it is written, Every wise woman buildeth her house — this refers to the wife of On, the son of Peleth; but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands — to Korah’s wife.


HaShem clearly delineates the positions, rights, and duties of priests and Levites; He quickly rejects Qorach’s impressive, but premature, attempt to establish a Messianic democracy. The wicked both quickly flourish and quickly wither:


Tehillim (Psalms) 92:7 When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever… 12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.


The final letters of that verse’s last three words TSADIK KATAMAR YIFRACH spell Qorach-- in the end of days, his egalitarian vision will indeed prevail.[7]


Qorach was such an intelligent person. How could he have made such a colossal blunder [and rebel against Moshe]?” This is the question that our Sages pose.[8] They answer that he misinterpreted the information that he had. Qorach knew prophetically that he would have extremely great descendants. The prophet Samuel, equal in stature to Moshe and Aharon, was one of them. Qorach reasoned that the merit and service of his future offspring were so great that it had be he that would prevail in the rebellion.


The problem is that Qorach did not hear that this greatness would be due to his sons, not to his own actions. Qorach’s sons, Assir, Elkanah, and Avaisaph, saints and prophets, repent before it’s too late, and they survive;[9] they’re the first of forty-eight prophets succeeding Moshe.[10] They authored Tehillim (Psalms) 42, 44-9, 84-5, 87-8.


Qorach was the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi. We do not mention that he was the son of Yaaqov.


Rashi introduces our Parasha with the statement: “This Parasha is explained nicely in the midrash of Rabbi Tanchuma”. Rashi quoted the midrash Tanchuma, that the Patriarch Yaaqov had pleaded not to have any share in the rebellion of Qorach. For that reason, Qorach’s genealogy stops before mentioning Yaaqov:


Rashi:  the son of Izhar the son of Kohath the son of Levi [The verse] does not mention, “the son of Jacob,” because he [Jacob] prayed not to be mentioned in connection with their quarrel, as it is stated, “my honor, you shall not join their assembly” (Gen. 49:6). And where is his name mentioned in connection with Korah? In (I) Chron. (6:22, 23), where their genealogy is traced for the service of the Levites on the platform [in the Temple], as it says, “the son of Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel”.[11]


The Midrash Rabbah adds additional insight:


Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XVIII:5 NOW KORAH, THE SON OF IZHAR, THE SON OF KOHATH, THE SON OF LEVI... TOOK. Why is it not written, ‘The son of Jacob’ or ‘The son of Israel’? This bears on the text, Let my soul not come into their council (Gen. XLIX, 6), namely that of the spies; Unto their assembly let my glory not be united (ib.), namely to that of Korah. Jacob said to the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Let not my name be mentioned with those wicked people, either in connection with the spies or in connection with Korah’s quarrel. When then should my name be mentioned? When they trace their pedigrees to take their stand upon the dais; and so it says, The son of Tahlath, the son of Assir, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Israel.[12]


  1. Why didn’t Yaaqov want to have his name associated with the sin of Qorach, as opposed to the golden calf or the sin of the spies?


Yaaqov was the ultimate receiver. Yaaqov is represented by the moon. In Kiddush Levanah (the moon blessing) we face the moon and we say:

ברוך יוצריך

ברוך עושיך

ברוך קוניך

ברוך בוראיך

The first letter of each word spells: יעקב - Yaaqov. The “man in the moon”, the face, is the face of Yaaqov. This explains why he did not want to be associated with a receiver who had failed.


Qorach went around “all night” according to the Midrash:


Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XVIII:10 NEITHER HAVE I HURT ONE OF THEM (XVI, 15). By this Moses meant: I did not condemn the innocent nor acquit the guilty. When Moses saw that they persisted in their haughtiness, he said to them: BE THOU AND ALL THY CONGREGATION BEFORE THE LORD... TO-MORROW  (ib. 16) Korah went about all that night and misled the Israelites. He said to them: ‘ What do you suppose? That I am working to obtain greatness for myself? I desire that we should all enjoy greatness in turn, not like Moses who has appropriated the kingship to himself and has given the High Priesthood to his brother!’ And so he went about winning over each tribe with arguments suited to that particular tribe, until they made common cause with him. How is this inferred? From the text, AND KORAH ASSEMBLED ALL THE CONGREGATION AGAINST THEM  (ib. 19). They approached Moses, all speaking as Korah did. Instantly, THE LORD SPOKE UNTO MOSES AND UNTO AARON, SAYING: SEPARATE YOURSELVES FROM AMONG THIS CONGREGATION,.. AND THEY FELL UPON THEIR FACES  (ib. 20 f.).


  1. Why does the Midrash stress that Korah sought support all night?


Qorach did his work of gaining support at night, because subconsciously he knew that he did his best work at night. Qorach is the night man. The night is the receiver in the same way Qorach was a receiver.


Rashi tells us about Qorach’s nighttime work:


Rashi: 19 Korah assembled... against them with words of mockery. All that night, he went to the tribes and enticed them [saying,] “Do you think I care only for myself? I care for all of you. These [people] come and take all the high positions: the kingship for himself and the kehunah for his brother,” until they were all enticed.[13]


Moses says that “in the morning” HaShem will reveal His will. The Midrash lends us some additional insight:


Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XVIII:4 Said He: In the morning the Lord will show who are His (Num. XVI, 5). What is the reason why He chose such a time? R. Nathan explained: The Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘ If all the magicians of the world were to assemble and try to turn the morning into evening, they would not be able to do so, and as I made a partition between light and darkness, so have I set Aaron apart to sanctify him as most holy.’


  1. Why does Moses wait till the morning to resolve this issue? Why not resolve it now?


Moshe procrastinated till the morning because he is the sun the daytime. Qorach is the moon, he is the night. Therefore, Moshe wanted to wait until his time, his turf had arrived. Moshe wanted Qorach to see that this is the reality, that Qorach is the receiver.


Rashi alludes to this:


Rashi: near to Him Heb. וְהִקְרִיב אֵלָיו . And the Targum [Onkelos] proves this [that it is referring to both the Levites and the kohanim], for he renders the first phrase, “He will bring them close to Him” [and the second phrase] “He will bring into His service.” The Midrashic interpretation of בּֽקֶר , morning, [rather than מָחָר , tomorrow] is: Moses said to him [Korah], The Holy One, blessed is He, assigned boundaries to His world. Are you able to transform morning into evening? That is how possible it is for you to undo this, as it says, “It was evening and it was morning... and He separated (וַיַּבְדֵּל) “ (Gen. 1:5, 7); similarly, “Aaron was set apart (וַיִּבָּדֵל) to sanctify him...”[14].[15]


Rashi also tells us why Moshe put the decision off till the morning:


Rashi: 5 In the morning, the Lord will make known Night is a time of drunkenness for us, and it is improper to appear before Him. His real intention was to delay, with the hope that they might retract [their opposition].[16]


Midrashim relate that Qorach’s 250 men donned solid blue four-cornered garments (talit) and ridiculed Moshe’s ruling, that they still needed the blue string, amidst the other fringes, at each corner of the garment. The Midrash Rabba offers further insight:


Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XVIII:3 NOW KORAH... TOOK. What is written in the preceding passage? Bid them that they make them... fringes... and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue (Num. XV, 38). Korah jumped up and asked Moses: ‘If a cloak is entirely of blue, what is the law as regards its being exempted from the obligation of fringes? ‘Moses answered him:’ It is subject to the obligation of fringes. ‘Korah retorted:’ A cloak that is entirely composed of blue cannot free itself from the obligation, yet the four blue threads do free it! If,’ he asked again, ‘a house is full of Scriptural books, what is the law as regards its being exempt from the obligation of mezuzah?’ He answered him: ‘It is under the obligation of having a mezuzah.’ ‘The whole Torah,’ he argued, ‘which contains two hundred and seventy-five sections, cannot exempt the house, yet the one section in the mezuzah exempts it! These are things,’ he continued, ‘which you have not been commanded, but you are inventing them out of your own mind!’


The Keli Yakar quotes the above Midrash. At the end of the previous Parasha (Shelach), we were informed of the mitzva of tzitzith. Qorach “took” the Parasha of tzitzith and challenged Moshe in the realms of Halacha. If a garment is completely made of techelet does it need tzitzith of techelet on its’ fringes? Moshe replied in the affirmative. Qorach challenged the answer given by Moshe.


Rashi gives us a similar response:


Rashi:  Dathan and Abiram Since the tribe of Reuben was settled in the south when they camped, thus being neighbors of Kohath and his children who were also camped in the south, they joined with Korah in his rebellion. Woe to the wicked, and woe to his neighbor! Now what made Korah decide to quarrel with Moses? He envied the chieftainship of Elizaphan the son of Uzziel whom Moses appointed as chieftain over the sons of Kohath by the [Divine] word. Korah claimed, “My father and his brothers were four [in number]” as it says, “The sons of Kohath were...” (Exod. 6:18). Amram was the first, and his two sons received greatness—one a king and one a kohen gadol. Who is entitled to receive the second [position]? Is it not I, who am the son of Izhar, who is the second brother to Amram? And yet, he [Moses] appointed to the chieftainship the son of his youngest brother! I hereby oppose him and will invalidate his word.[17] What did he do? He went and assembled two hundred and fifty men, heads of Sanhedrin, most of them from the tribe of Reuben, his neighbors. These were Elitzur the son of Shedeur and his colleagues, and others like him, as it says, “chieftains of the congregation, those called to the assembly.” And further it states, “These were the chosen ones of the congregation” (1:16). He dressed them with cloaks made entirely of blue wool. They came and stood before Moses and asked him, “Does a cloak made entirely of blue wool require fringes [‘tzitzith’], or is it exempt?” He replied, “It does require [fringes].” They began laughing at him [saying], “Is it possible that a cloak of another [colored] material, one string of blue wool exempts it [from the obligation of techeleth], and this one, which is made entirely of blue wool, should not exempt itself?[18]


If one thread of techelet can be used to exempt a garment of tzitzith, then surely a garment of techelet would not require tzitzith?


  1. Why does Qorach choose tzitzith (fringes) for his argument as opposed to the Parah Adumah or another chok?


The word tzitzith, fringes, is related to that which bursts forth with life from seemingly dead earth and trees; this week, after Qorach’s debacle, we read that only Aharon’s rod flowered, “Vayatzetz Tzitz”, and put forth buds.[19] The garment, begged, represents external physical reality, the illusory world of the senses, limited by its four corners, unless one progresses to the transcendental world of truth and eternity, via the mitzvot, linking every aspect of mundane life to HaShem, it’s represented by the blue string.


We are to see the tzitzith. If we wear a talit at night, we do not need tzitzith. They only need tzitzith by day so that we can see them. Thus we understand that the reason Qorach chose to dispute this mitzva was due to his perspective. He was coming from the perspective of night! And from his perspective, he was right!


Moshe took his perspective of the sun, of daytime. The talit requires tzitzith during the day.


Qorach’s eye mislead him. Qorach saw that Shmuel the prophet would be his descendant. He sought leadership because he saw how great his descendants would be, even though the one not chosen would die. The Midrash confirms this:


Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XVIII:8 Now Korah, who was a clever man--what reason had he for such folly? His mind’s eye misled him. He foresaw that a long and distinguished progeny would emanate from him, particularly Samuel, whose importance would equal that of Moses and Aaron; as may be inferred from the text, Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among them that call upon His Name,[20] and that from among his descendants there would be formed twenty-four levitical divisions all of whom would prophesy under the influence of the Holy Spirit; as it says, All these were the sons of Heman.[21] He argued: ‘Is it reasonable that, since such greatness is destined to emanate from me, I should keep silent?‘ He did not, however, foresee accurately. In fact his sons repented, and it was from them that the distinguished progeny was to emanate. Moses, however, did foresee it. The reason then why Korah was foolish enough to risk that danger was because he heard from Moses that they would all perish and one of them would escape; as it says, AND IT SHALL BE THAT THE MAN WHOM THE LORD DOTH CHOOSE, HE SHALL BE HOLY.


Rashi also tells us about these great descendants:


Rashi:  7 you have taken too much upon yourselves, sons of Levi Heb. רַב לָכֶם בְּנֵי לֵוִי , [interpreted Midrashically as:] I have told you a very great thing. Were they not fools? For he warned them about it and they [still] took upon themselves to offer [the incense]. They sinned at the cost of their lives, as it says, “the censers of these who sinned at the cost of their lives” (17:3). But what did Korah, who was astute, see [to commit] this folly? His vision deceived him. He saw [prophetically] a chain of great people descended from him: Samuel, who is equal [in importance] to Moses and Aaron. He [Korah] said, “For his sake I will be spared. [He also saw] twenty-four watches [of Levites] emanating from his grandsons, all prophesying through the holy spirit, as it says, “all these were the sons of Heman” (I Chron 25:5). He said, “Is it possible that all this greatness is destined to emanate from me, and I should remain silent?” Therefore, he participated [in the rebellion] to reach that prerogative, for he had heard from Moses that they would all perish and one would escape [death]: “the one whom the Lord chooses—he is the holy one.” He erred in thinking that it referred to him. He, however, did not “see” properly, for his sons repented [and thus did not die at that time]. Moses, however, foresaw this.[22]


  1. If Qorach had prophecy, why did Qorach’s eye not see that the descendants greatness was due to his children’s merit, not his?


Because in order to hear a prophecy in it’s entirety, one must learn how to listen, how to be a receiver. Without this skill, Qorach did not hear the whole prophecy. Qorach wanted to give, therefore he missed the part that comes from a giver. Moshe, on the other hand, had perfected the art of hearing by being the receiver from HaShem. He had perfected the art of hearing.


  1. Why did Dathan and Abiram say that they will not come even if Moses would pull their eyes out of their sockets? Why eyes?


The eyes see during the day. We need light to see. Dathan and Abiram said they were givers, men of the day, and they did not need to see, because eyes receive whilst we are givers now. Light will come from our eye sockets, we are givers now. They had bought into Qorach’s arguments.


  1. Why did HaShem open the ground to kill Qorach and his followers, as opposed to plague or some other way?


The ground “received” Qorach to indicate that Qorach and his followers were receivers. This was HaShem’s last message to Qorach. The ground formed a mouth which receives, and the mouth swallowed Qorach.


  1. Why did HaShem have to prove that Aharon was the man with the sprouting rods? Why not use a bat kol?


Aharon was the giver in the area of the priesthood. Aharon represented the sun, too. Obviously Aharon’s staff was still connected to it’s source. It produced fruit because it is still connected to it’s source. Aharon was therefore the source – the giver. Everyone else is the receiver that had cut themselves off from Aharon the giver.


  1. In Tehillim 92:13, it says:                            צדיק כתמר יפרח - The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: – the last letters spell Qorach’s name. The Arizal says that Qorach was a  צדיק - Tzadik.


Qorach was wise and there will be a time when he is a giver. Unfortunately, his timing was way off. Qorach was trying to assume the role of a giver at a time when HaShem still had him as a receiver. But the letters of Qorach’s name appear at the end of the words to indicate that in the end Qorach will be a Tzadik, not now.


  1. Why was Joshua punished by having laws removed from his memory?


Moshe receives Torah from HaShem and then he turns around and becomes the rebbe, the teacher, giving Torah to Joshua and the people. Joshua later turns around and becomes the giver. However, because he assumes the role of the giver a minute early, his punishment is to forget what he received, because he is still supposed to be a receiver! Joshua said that he had never left Moshe’s side, therefore he had received everything, yet it was not yet his time to be a giver.


In each generation there is a Torah teacher who is the giver of his generation.


One day the world will be filled with the knowledge of HaShem. We will all be filled to capacity. Thus we learn that this current situation where we have a rebbe and a talmid, is a temporary situation. It will not always be this way.


  1. In the Song of Shabbat, Psalm 92, the first letters of each word spell Moshe, thus Moshe is Shabbat. Moshe was called Shabbat. How can this be?


Only Shabbat has sanctity, the six days have no inherent sanctity, but rather they receive their sanctity from Shabbat. That is why we begin Shabbat early on the sixth day and extend Shabbat into the first day of the week. We are injecting the sanctity of Shabbat into the six work days by affecting the first and the last of those six days.


In the same way, Moshe was holy and was giving that holiness to the people. He was giving the Torah and they were receiving it. Moshe is the sun, he is Shabbat, he is the giver. Qorach and the people are the moon, they are the six work days, they are the receivers.


On the fourth day, HaShem created the two great luminaries, later it calls them a greater and a lesser luminaries. This is because the sun and the moon were equal, later the moon was diminished.


Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh: This represents a fusion of opposites. Shabbat is associated with the weekly cycle of the sun, whereas Rosh Chodesh is associated with the lunar cycle. The two reflect the difference between a mashpia (giver) and a mekabel (receiver). This very differentiation, however, also implies that a connection is established between them; the mashpia and the mekabel are united.


The concepts of mashpia and mekabel are reflected in Parshat Qorach. Qorach appreciated the positive quality of the recipients. Thus, he asked Moshe:


Bamidbar (Numbers) 16:3 “Why do you raise yourself above the congregation of G-d?”


This was a mistake. Although the recipients have great positive qualities, these qualities are revealed when they submit themselves to the guidance of the mashpia.


  1. Why can’t there be two kings with the same crown? Why can’t both the moon and the sun be equal?


Everything that HaShem created is a pair: Heaven and earth, sun and moon, Adam and Chava, man and woman, this world and the next world, givers and receivers, Rebbe and talmid, Shabbat and the six work days. However, HaShem is One and He is unique, He is NOT a pair.


Everything in this world works as either a giver or a receiver. These pairs define everything in this world. A man gives and a woman receives. Though on occasion they assume opposite roles, never the less, they are primarily in these roles.


Thus the sun is the giver and the moon is the receiver.


  1. Why did HaShem create them equal and then later diminish one?


The world operates with givers and receivers now, but, that was not how it was in the beginning, nor is it how we will function in the end.[23] When Mashiach comes, there will be a drastic change when everyone will become a giver.


Kiddush Lavanah – Fill the lacking of the moon that there be no diminishing of the moon and that its light be equal to the sun as it was in the beginning. One day we will all be able to give, even as the moon will be able to give its own light.


  1. Why did Cain kill Abel, from a deeper perspective?


Because Abel was the giver of his generation and Cain was the receiver. Abel was to be the disseminator of the Torah he received from his father, Adam, who in turn received it from HaShem. They each started out a receiver and then turned around to become the giver.


Abel was the rebbe of that generation. Cain murdered Abel because he claimed that they had already entered the Messianic age and that he, and everyone else, was not a rebbe, a giver.


Cain responded, “Am I my brother’s guardian (HaShomer)”?


Yaaqov guarded (shomer) the words of the prophecy of Yosef. He was waiting for it to occur according to Rashi.


Cain no longer wanted to guard the words of Abel.


Qorach was a gilgul of Cain. Moshe was a gilgul of Abel. Thus we see that the confrontation between Moshe and Qorach was supposed to be the tikkun (correction) of the confrontation between Cain and Abel. Yet, we see that Qorach repeated the sin of Cain. Cain brought his first fruit offering on Nisan 15, yet the Torah teaches that the first of the firstfruit offerings cannot be brought before Nisan 16. Thus we see that his timing was off. In the same way, Qorach would have been correct in the Messianic age, but alas, he was not in that age and instead sinned a very great sin. Qorach said that they were all holy, he wanted to be a giver because he thought that they had entered the Messianic age. Qorach had the same message as Cain, and Moshe had the same message as Abel.


* * *


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:


Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501


Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

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(360) 918-2905


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[1] Likkutei Torah BaMidbar 54b et al.

[2] The name “Korach” itself is used for a bald spot, which is a division of the hair.

[3] Yalkut Shimoni, sec. 991.

[4] I Sam. xii. 3

[5] Ps. lxxxix. 36

[6] Baba Bathra 75a

[7] Yoel chapter 3.

[8] Midrash Tanchuma; Rashi, Numbers 16:7

[9] See Rashi on Bamidbar 26:11

[10] Vilna Gaon, Seder Olam 20; see Ex. 6:24, I Chron. 6:7,22, 9:19.

[11] Midrash Tanchuma Korach 4, Num. Rabbah 18:5

[12] I Chron. VI, 22 f.

[13] Midrash Tanchuma Korach 7, Num. Rabbah 10

[14] I Chron. 23:13

[15] Midrash Tanchuma Korach 3, Num. Rabbah 4

[16] Midrash Tanchuma 5

[17] Midrash Tanchuma Korach 1, Num. Rabbah 18:2

[18] Midrash Tanchuma Korach 2, Num. Rabbah 18:3

[19] Bamidbar 17:23

[20] Ps. XCIX, 6

[21] I Chron. XXV, 5

[22] This is found in Midrash Tanchuma Korach 5, Num. Rabbah 18:8

[23] Sefer Yetzirah 1:7, Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 46:10.