Parsha Korach

Summary

A group of men, led by the Levite Korah joined with some Reubenuties including Dathan and Abiram and 250 Israelite chieftains, rose up against Moses. Moses had instructed Korah and his group to put fire and incense on their fire pans before God – but they refused. The next day they took their fire pans and gathered the community against Moses before the Tabernacle. The Presence of God appeared and told Moses and Aaron to stand back so that God could annihilate the whole community. Aaron and Moses fell on their faces and begged God not to punish the whole community. God told Moses to instruct the people to move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and they did so, while Dathan, Abiram and their families remained at the entrance of their tents. Moses told the Israelites that if these men were to die of natural causes, then God did not send Moses, but if God caused the earth to swallow them up, then these men had spurned God. Just as Moses finished speaking, the earth opened and swallowed them, their households, and all Korah’s people, and the Israelites fled in terror.

A fire consumed the 250 men offering the incense. God told Moses to order Eleazar the priest to remove the fire pans — as they had become sacred — and have them made into plating for the altar to remind the Israelites that no one other than Aaron’s offspring should presume to offer incense to God.

The next day, the whole Israelite community railed against Moses and Aaron for bringing death upon God’s people. A cloud covered the Tabernacle and the God’s Presence appeared. God told Moses to remove himself and Aaron from the community, so that God might annihilate them, and they fell on their faces. Moses told Aaron to take the fire pan, put fire from the altar and incense on it, and take it to the community to make expiation for them and to stop a plague that had begun, and Aaron did so. Aaron stood between the dead and the living and halted the plague, but not before 14,700 had died.

God told Moses to collect a staff from the chieftain of each of the 12 tribes, inscribe each man’s name on his staff, inscribe Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi, and deposit the staffs in the Tent of Meeting. The next day, Moses entered the Tent and Aaron’s staff had sprouted, blossomed, and borne almonds. God instructed Moses to put Aaron’s staff before the Ark of the Covenant to be kept as a lesson to rebels to end their mutterings against God. But the Israelites cried to Moses, “We are doomed to perish!”

God assigned the Levites to Aaron to aid in the duties of the Tent of Meeting. God prohibited any outsider from intruding on the priests as they discharged the duties connected with the Shrine, on pain of death. And God gave Aaron and the priests all the sacred donations and first fruits as a perquisite for all time for them and their families to eat. And God gave them the oil, wine, grain, and money that the Israelites brought. But God told Aaron that the priests would have no territorial share among the Israelites, as God was their portion and their share. God gave the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their share in return for the services of the Tent of Meeting, but they too would have no territorial share among the Israelites. God told Moses to instruct the Levites to set aside one-tenth of the tithes they received as a gift to God.

From the Lubavitcher Rebbe:

A study of the biblical account of Korah's rebellion against Moses, and of the numerous Midrashim and Commentaries describing Korah's personality and actions, yields a complex, even contradictory picture. Korah was no ordinary rabble-rouser. He was a leading member of Kehatites, the most prestigious of the Levite families. Joining him in his mutiny against Moses and Aaron were "two hundred and fifty men of Israel, leaders of the community, of those regularly called to assembly, men of renown." Korah's difference with Moses was an ideological one, driven by the way in which he understood Israel's relationship with G-d and by the manner in which he felt the nation ought to be structured.

Yet Korah is regarded as the father of all quarrelers: his very name is synonymous with disharmony and conflict. The Talmud goes so far as to proclaim: "Anyone who engages in divisiveness transgresses a divine prohibition, as it is written: 'And he shall not be as Korah and his company.'" But if there is more to Korah -- the person and the idea -- than a jealousy-drive power struggle, why does every petty squabbler fall under the umbrella of "Don't be like Korah"?

Obviously, there is something at the heart of Korah's contentions that is the essence of all disunity.

The particulars of Korah's campaign also require explanation. What exactly did Korah want? His arguments against Moses and Aaron seem fraught with contradiction. On the one hand, he seems to challenge the very institution of the kehunah ("priesthood"), declaiming to Moses and Aaron: "The entire community is holy, and G-d is within them; why do you raise yourselves over the congregation of G-d?"

Moses had divided the people of Israel into several classes of holiness: "ordinary" Israelites, Levites, Kohanim ("priests") and, at the pinnacle of this pyramid, the Kohen Gadol ("High Priest"). The Israelites -- the farmers, merchants, craftsmen, soldiers and statesmen of Israel -- were to pursue the "normal" existence of physical man -- a life and vocation that involve the bulk of a person's time and talents in the material world. The tribe of Levi, however, was "distinguished by the G-d of Israel from the community of Israel, to be brought closer to Him," to serve as spiritual leaders and priests, "instructing Your laws to Jacob and Your Torah to Israel; placing incense in Your nostrils and burnt offerings upon Your altar" (Numbers 16:9; Deuteronomy 33:10). Within the tribe of Levi itself, Aaron and his descendants were consecrated as "Kohanim" and entrusted with the primary role in serving G-d in the Sanctuary. Aaron himself was appointed Kohen Gadol, "the greatest of his brethren" in this hierarchy of holiness. Korah seems to be objecting to this spiritual elitism.

But from Moses' response ("Is it not enough for you that the G-d of Israel has distinguished you from the community of Israel... that you also desire the priesthood?") we see that Korah actually desired the office of the Kohen Gadol for himself!

This paradox appears time and again in various accounts of Korah's mutiny in the Midrashim and the commentaries. Korah comes across a champion of equality, railing against a "class system" that categorizes levels of holiness within the community. Yet, in the same breath, he contends that he is the more worthy candidate for the High Priesthood.

In a number of talks, the Lubavitcher Rebbe analyzes the arguments, motives and spiritual profile of Korah and his compatriots. If Korah is the essence of divisiveness, says the Rebbe, then an understanding of the dynamics of conflict and harmony will explain Korah's challenge to Moses. Conversely, an understanding of the subtleties of Korah's argument will shed light on the very fine line separating divisiveness from true peace. For although divisiveness and peace look very different from each other in their full-blown, actual states, in their essence and origins they are amazingly similar. In fact, they are very nearly indistinguishable from each other.

Okay – so that’s the Chasidic view. But what really was Korah’s crime? That he dared to question Moses’ leadership? According to Bar Ilan prof Dr. Ronen Ahituv, “champions of liberalism and freedom of thought are likely to feel discomfort upon reading this story. The rebels being put to death gives the impression of suppression of free thought and presents a threat to those who express unconventional views.”

But he goes on to look at the story from three different perspectives:

  1. The first distinguishes between democracy and the Israelite theocracy, which is not to be criticized. In this model, Moses and Aaron rule as the representatives of God and therefore do not owe an accounting to any human being.

  2. The second approach distinguishes between Korah’s words and his true motives. This approach acknowledges Korah’s argument as being justified in principle, but expresses reservations about the character of the person advancing the arguments and claims that he was not speaking sincerely. Some of the advocates of this approach describe Korah as power-hungry and not wishing to give rights to the broader public, rather wishing to rule the people high-handedly himself, and using righteous liberal rhetoric to cover his true intentions.

  3. The third approach involves what Dr, Ahituv calls a “subversive” reading. According to such a reading, Korah was justified in his claims, and they were essentially accepted, important sections of halakhah being set according to them. For example, in several rules of halakha that were originally reserved for priests alone, became accepted for all the people – eg. The matter of forbidding the shaving of the head. Originally it was written: “Speak to the priests ... They shall not shave smooth any part of their heads ... or make gashes in their flesh” (Lev. 21:1-5), as against which it is written, “You are children of the Lord your G-d. You shall not gash yourselves or shave the front of your heads because of the dead. For you are a people consecrated to the Lord your G-d: the Lord your G-d chose you from among all other peoples on earth to be His treasured people”.

An especially notable comparison is the passage of tzitzit, presented immediately before the story of Korah, and the commandment to make a fringe of blue on the corner of one’s garment, resembling the cord of blue in the headdress which is part of the garb of the high priest. In both instances – the fringes and the cord – the garment involves sha’atnez – combining wool and flax; indeed, the Sages interpreted that one is permitted to make tzitzit using wool and flax in the same garment, just as the clothing of the priests had sha’atnez in it. Thus the tzitzit is like a priestly garment but is worn by every Israelite.

But David Hazony – author of The Ten Commandments has a fourth perspective:

Instead of bringing a restoration of Moses' authority, the crushing of Korah's rebellion pushes the Israelites deeper into the cycle of doubt that has gripped them ever since the Sin of the Spies, in last week's reading, sentenced them to spend the next forty years in the wilderness of Sinai. The destruction of Korah's camp, it turns out, marks not a new affirmation of Israelite fidelity, but an unprecedented low in Moses'—and God's—relationship with the Israelites.

So here’s the question.

Is God’s plan to create loyal subjects through fear or through free choice? Clearly the Israelites were not capable of making intelligent, free choices at this time. The slave mentality ran too deep. So – could God’s plan be a two-step process? Force the Israelites to obey out of fear and then eventually stay loyal to God and his Laws out of free choice. Doesn’t this support the precept of “First we will do, then we will understand”, which was the Israelites first instance of free choice when the Laws were provided to them at Sinai?

When this declaration was made, the full weight of the Lord’s demands that would be put on the shoulders of the people was not yet known. The sequence of sins and punishments experienced by the Israelites from Parashat Be-ha’alotkha (“The people took to complaining bitterly before the Lord,” Num. 11:1) through Parashat Balak (“the people profaned themselves by whoring with the Moabite women,” Num. 25:1) can be ascribed to their journey towards the unknown. The practical failings that followed the people’s initial devotion, which at the time the Torah was given was manifest in word alone, are not the least bit surprising. It is not easy to make good in actual deed the verbal promise, “We will faithfully do,” given in the first blush of enthusiasm.

So let’s take an indepth look at the Parsha – as the organization Tanach.org has prepared this very detailed study:

Introduction Parsha Korah opens with a verse that seems grammatically incorrect - it is missing an object:

"Va'yikach Korah... - And Korah [the son of Yizhar, the son of Khat, the son of Levi] took, and Datan and Aviram [the sons of Eliav] and Oan [the son of Pelet] the sons of Reuven." (16:1)

This opening sentence simply states that Korah took, without explaining what he took! In fact, this verse is so unclear that almost every commentator offers a different interpretation. For example:

Rashi - Korah took himself to a 'different side'; Ramban - he took an "eytzah" (counsel) into his heart; Ibn Ezra and Chizkuni - he took 'other people'; Sforno - he took the 250 'national leaders.'

However, no matter which interpretation is most accurate, a more basic question remains: why does the Torah begin this parsha in such a confusing manner? After all, wouldn't the Torah's message be clearer had Chumash been more specific?

In the following shiur, we will show how the answer may lie in the distinct style that the Torah uses to describe this incident. Let's begin by undertaking a careful reading of the opening perek of Parshat Korah (Bamidbar chapter 16).

Fighting for a Common Cause A cursory reading of Parshat Korah indicates that Korah, Datan and Aviram, and the 250 men all unite behind a common cause. Their joint criticism of the leadership of Moshe and Aharon, voiced in their opening protest, demonstrates this united opposition:

"...and they gathered against Moshe and Aharon saying: You have taken too much - for the entire community is holy and God is in their midst; why then do you raise yourselves above God's congregation?"

However, it remains unclear from this opening complaint precisely what they want instead:

Are they calling for 'new elections?' Do they want Moshe and Aharon to 'step down?' Do they themselves want to 'step up?' Are they simply demanding 'spiritual equality?'

Even Moshe's suggestion of a 'k'toret test' in response to their opening complaint reveals very little about their final goal. To see why, let's take a careful look at Moshe's response:

"Come morning, and God will make known who is His and who is holy... and he whom He has chosen... This you shall do, take fire-pans, Korah and his entire group, ... and put on them k'toret before God [i.e. at the Mishkan]... and he [whose offering] God shall choose will be established as 'kadosh'..."

What is the purpose of this 'k'toret test?'

To determine who the true leader should be [Moshe or Korah]? This would imply that only one offering will be accepted, and that Korah wants to be the leader;

or

To determine who is permitted to offer korbanot? This would imply that possibly all of the offerings may be accepted (or at least some of them), thus suggesting that they are asking for 'spiritual equality.'

However, a more conclusive understanding of the k'toret test emerges from Moshe's second response to Korah, i.e. in his censure of "bnei Levi":

"Hear me, sons of Levi - is it not enough... now that He has advanced you and your fellow Levites with you, do you seek the kehuna [priesthood] as well? ... Why then do you complain against Aharon?"

This censure of "B’nei Levi" proves that Korah and his followers challenge the decision to limit the kehuna to Aharon and his sons. The dissidents demand that anyone who so desires should be allowed to offer "korbanot," for all members of Israel are 'spiritually equal' ["ki kol ha'eydah kulam kedoshim..."

Spiritual Equality We may logically assume that Korah & Company consider this restriction on the priesthood as Moshe's nepotism, rather than a divine command. Hence, the 'test,' as Moshe suggests, will determine who indeed is capable of offering korbanot - i.e. only Aharon, or possibly all (or at least some) of the 250 men as well.

[After all, if the 'test' is only a showdown between Korah and Moshe (or Aharon), why should all 250 men offer k'toret?!]

Enter - Group Two Up until this point, the Torah gives us the impression that everyone mentioned in the opening two psukim - i.e. Korah, Datan, Aviram, and the 250 men - join together in this protest. Hence, we should expect all of them to participate in this 'showdown.'

However, as the narrative continues, a very different picture emerges. Note from 16:12 that not everyone mentioned in 16:1-2 plans to take part in this 'test':

"And Moshe sent for Datan and Aviram, but they answered: We will not come up..."

Why must Moshe send for Datan and Aviram? After all, were they not together with Korah & Company when they first gathered against Moshe?

From their response - "we will not come up" - it becomes clear that Datan and Aviram comprise an independent group. They remain in their own camp [recall that they are from shevet Reuven] and refuse to even come near the Ohel Mo'ed (where the 'k'toret test' is being conducted).

Datan and Aviram don't seem terribly interested in 'spiritual equality.' As the narrative continues, we see that they have a very different complaint against Moshe, a more 'political' agenda:

"Is it not enough that you took us out of a land flowing with milk and honey [referring to Egypt!] to die in the desert and now - you continue to act as lord over us! You have not even brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey (as Moshe had promised)... [therefore] we will not come up!"

In this brazen defiance of Moshe's summons, Datan and Aviram totally reject Moshe's political leadership. In their eyes, Moshe has failed. After all, when Bnei Yisrael first accepted Moshe as their leader in Egypt, he had promised to bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey (see Shmot 3:16-17, 4:30-31). Now that Moshe has informed Bnei Yisrael that entering the Promised Land is no longer on the horizon (after Chet HaMeraglim), Datan and Aviram (and most likely many others) reject the legitimacy of his leadership and authority.

Clearly, this complaint differs drastically from Korah's initial objection to the kehuna! Korah and his cohorts challenge Aharon's exclusive status, but never question Moshe's leadership. After all, they all agree to the 'test' that Moshe himself initiates. Datan and Aviram, however, challenge specifically Moshe's leadership.

Two Groups - Two Gripes Apparently, this is the story of two independent grievances, raised by two independent groups, situated at two different locations:

Group One - the 250 men ["adat Korah"] protest Aharon's exclusive rights to the Kehuna. They stand ready for their 'test' at the Ohel Mo'ed; [Note that the Torah consistently refers to this group as "adat Korah"

Group Two - Datan and Aviram (and followers) complain against the political leadership of Moshe. They gather in the territory of shevet Reuven. [This location is later referred to as "Mishkan Korah Datan v'Aviram"

Of course, it remains to be seen where Korah himself stands on these two issues, but there can be no doubt that there are two groups with two very different agendas.

Moshe's Prayer Moshe's response to Datan and Aviram's complaint provides additional proof to this distinction:

"And Moshe became angry and said to God - 'al teyfen el minchatam' - pay no attention to their oblation... I have not wronged anyone of them."

[Note, the translation of "minchatam" is difficult. Rashi claims that mincha here refers to the k'toret offering, but Ramban (rightly so) disagrees, as Datan and Aviram have no intention to offer the k'toret. Instead, Ramban suggests that it refers to any type of tefila that they may offer. (See also Ibn Ezra and Seforno who explain this pasuk in a similar manner.) Note also that most English translations solve the problem by choosing a word that most people don't understand!]

Here we see how Moshe's response relates to Datan and Aviram's complaint against his leadership. In their case, he cannot conduct a 'test' to prove them wrong. Therefore, Moshe can turn only to God to affirm the legitimacy of his own [divinely appointed] leadership that has now been challenged. Moshe reminds God that he has indeed been a faithful leader who never abused his power.

Re-Enter Group One Up until this point, the narrative, although a bit complex, has flowed in a logical order: it first presents both groups, followed by the presentation of the individual complaints of each faction. But now, for some reason, the narrative begins to 'see-saw,' seemingly randomly, between Moshe's confrontations with each of these two groups.

Note how in 16:16 the narrative abruptly switches from Moshe's response to Datan and Aviram (group II) back to his original confrontation with "adat Korah" (group I):

"And Moshe said to Korah, tomorrow, you and all your company [the 250 men] be before God [at the Mishkan], you and they and Aharon..."

Then the narrative continues to describe this confrontation: the next morning, all 250 men assemble at the Ohel Mo'ed ready with their "machtot" (fire-pans) and "k'toret", while Korah rallies a mass crowd to watch. But then, just as we await the 'showdown,' again we find an abrupt change in the narrative. Rather than continuing with the saga of the k'toret offered by 250 men or Datan and Aviram's rejection of Moshe's authority, Chumash prefers, for some reason, to leave us in suspense!

Re-Enter Group Two At this point we find a new 'parshia' that describes how God suddenly intervenes and informs Moshe that he is about to punish the entire eydah . Moshe intercedes, arguing that only those who are directly guilty should be punished.

However, it remains unclear precisely who is about to be punished. In other words, to whom does the word "eydah" refer:

Group One - the 250 men offering the k'toret? Group Two - Datan and Aviram and their followers? The entire nation - or at least those who gathered around [i.e. the 'gawkers']?

Although the preceding psukim identify the eydah as the group that has gathered around the Ohel Mo'ed, the psukim that follow point us instead to Group Two - i.e., to those who gathered at the campsite of Datan and Aviram:

"And God told Moshe, speak to the eydah and warn them - withdraw yourselves from the area of Mishkan Korah Datan v'Aviram."

In response to Moshe's prayer, God instructs Moshe to issue a warning to the eydah that has gathered around the campsite of Datan and Aviram. This must be referring to Group Two, since Moshe (to fulfill this command) must leave the area of the Ohel Mo'ed (where Group One has assembled) and go to the area where Group Two is located - i.e Mishkan Korah, Datan and Aviram:

"And Moshe got up and went to Datan and Aviram... and he said to the people: Move away from the tents of these wicked people... lest you be wiped out for all their sins..."

Note that Moshe must leave his present location (at the Ohel Mo'ed) and go to "Mishkan Korah Datan v'Aviram" (further proof that two separate groups exist). This location, to which the Torah refers as "Mishkan Korah Datan v'Aviram," serves as 'party headquarters' for this rebellious group. Most likely, an alternative leadership group has already formed at this new center.

[Note the Torah's use of the word "mishkan" (dwelling place) to describe their headquarters. Most likely, this term was specifically chosen to indicate that these new headquarters stand in defiance of the Moshe Rabbeinu's leadership, whose headquarters are the "mishkan" at the Ohel Mo'ed!]

Because Group Two challenges Moshe's leadership (and not Aharon's priesthood), it must be Moshe himself (and not Aharon) who confronts this group. Note that Aharon does not accompany Moshe (in 16:25). Instead, he remains at the Ohel Mo'ed, prepared for the showdown with the 250 men (Group I), the group that questions his kehuna.

Two Groups - Two Punishments To prove to the people the divine origin of Moshe's leadership,God Himself must 'create' a "beriya" - a new form of creation - to punish the people involved. The ground miraculously devours Group Two - Datan and Aviram and those followers who do not heed Moshe's warning.

But what happened in the meantime to "adat Korah" (Group I) - the 250 men whom we left standing (in 16:18) in front of the Ohel Mo'ed participating in the 'test of the k'toret?'

For some reason, the Torah leaves us in suspense about their fate and returns to them (in a very incidental manner) only in the very last pasuk of this chapter:

"And a fire came forth from God and consumed the 250 men who were offering the k'toret."

This final pasuk proves not only that there were two groups in two separate locations, but that there were also two distinct forms of punishments:

Group One - the 250 men at the Ohel Mo'ed - consumed by fire. Group Two - Datan and Aviram & Co. - swallowed by the ground.

So where is Korah in all of this? Is he with Group I or with Group II?

He couldn't be two places at the same time, could he?!

Korah - The Politician To appreciate the nature of Korah's involvement, we must understand his connection to each of these two groups.

At first glance, it appears that each group has some basis for a legitimate complaint.

By challenging the restriction of the kehuna to the family of Aharon, Group One assert their right, as well as the right of others, to offer korbanot.

By challenging the political leadership of Moshe, Group Two voice their concern for the welfare and future of Am Yisrael. In their opinion, remaining in the desert is equivalent to national suicide.

Although Group One has little in common with Group Two, the Torah presents this story as if only one group exists. The narrative accomplishes this by 'jumping back and forth' from one group to the other.

Why does the Torah employ this unusual style? How does it help us better understand Korah's involvement with each group?

Korah - Where Are You? First, we must ascertain to which group Korah belongs.

Clearly, he leads Group One, which demands the "kehuna". Yet, at the same time, he is so involved with Group Two that his name appears first on the banner in front of their party headquarters - "Mishkan Korah Datan v'Aviram!"

Furthermore, although Korah himself is never mentioned in the punishment of Group Two many of his followers, described in the Chumash as "ha'adam asher l'Korah," are swallowed up by the ground together with Datan and Aviram.

In fact, it remains unclear precisely how Korah himself dies. Was he swallowed by the ground or consumed by the fire?

The 'last time he was spotted' was together with the 250 men (Group I) at the Ohel Mo'ed. But it seems that only the 250 men were consumed, but not Korah himself! On the other hand, 16:32 informs us that Datan and Aviram and all of Korah's men were swallowed up - but Korah himself seems to be 'missing!' Did he escape at the last minute from both?

Apparently not. Later in Bamidbar 26:9-10, we are told quite clearly that Korah was indeed swallowed. But to complicate matters even further, Devarim 11:6 implies that only Datan and Aviram were swallowed.

[Based on the complexity of these psukim, the Gemara in Sanhedrin 110a suggests that he received both punishments! First he was burnt by the fire at the Ohel Mo'ed, and then his body rolled to the area of Datan v'Aviram and was swallowed up by the ground.] (See also Ibn Ezra on 16:35.)

What can the Torah's complex presentation of this rebellion teach us about Korah's involvement? Why does Chumash intentionally imply that Korah is in two places at the same time?

This 'zig-zag' style indicates that a strange coalition exists between two groups that have little in common besides discontent.

What motivated the joining of these two forces?

The answer is clear: Korah. The question though remains: Why? What was Korah's motivation in all of this?

One could suggest that this may be the purpose of the ambiguity in the first pasuk of the Parsha. By intentionally not finishing the sentence, the Torah wants the reader to ask this very question - what did Korah take?

Coalition Politics Korah 'took' two ostensibly legitimate protest groups and joined them together to form his own political power base. Whereas each group alone may have not dared to openly challenge Moshe and Aharon, Korah encourages them to take action. Datan and Aviram, 'inspired' by Korah, establish their own 'headquarters' - "Mishkan Korah, Datan and Aviram" - in defiance of Moshe's leadership. Likewise, the 250 men, including members of shevet Levi, are roused to openly challenge the restriction of the kehuna to Aharon.

Rather than encouraging open dialogue, Korah incites these two factions to take forceful action. Korah probably saw himself as the most suitable candidate to become the next national leader. To that end, he involves himself with each dissenting group. [Anyone familiar with political science (i.e. current events and/or world history) can easily relate to this phenomenon.] Korah is simply what we would call a 'polished politician.'

A Lesson For All Generations The Mishna in Pirkei Avot (5:17) considers the rebellion of Korah as the paradigm of a dispute which was "shelo l'shem sha'mayim" (an argument not for the sake of Heaven). Why is specifically Korah seen as the classic example? After all, the arguments presented by Korah ("for the entire nation is holy," etc.) seem to imply exactly the opposite - that it was actually an argument "l'shem shamayim" (for the sake of Heaven)!

Pirkei Avot may be teaching us the very same message to which the Torah alludes through its complex presentation in our parsha. Precisely because Korah and his followers claim to be fighting "l'shem shamayim," Chazal must inform us of Korah's true intentions. Korah may claim to be fighting a battle "l'shem shamayim," but his claim is far from the truth. His primary interest is to promote himself, to build a power base from which he himself can emerge as the new leader.

Parshat Korah thus teaches us that whenever a dispute arises over community leadership or religious reform, before reaching conclusions we must carefully examine not only the claims, but also the true motivations behind them. On a personal level, as well, every individual must constantly examine the true motivations behind all his spiritual endeavors.