Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

ויקח קרח

Korach separated himself. (16:1)

Download PDF

Korach earned the infamous nomenclature of baal machlokes, the paradigmatic quarrelsome person. This is in addition to Chazal labeling him an apikores, heretic. He earned these ignominious titles by virtue of his mutiny against Moshe and Hashem. When we sit back and analyze what took place, we wonder what Korach requested that was inappropriate. He complained to Moshe that he had been passed over for a distinguished leadership position. He said, “My father’s brother had four sons. Amram was the oldest. His two sons, Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen, both took the top positions of leadership. Who then should be next in line, if not I, Yitzhar’s son? (Yitzhar was the brother of Amram.) Instead, Moshe chose Elitzfan ben Uziel, a younger cousin of Korach, who was Kehas ben Yitzhar’s eldest son. Korach’s first mistake was intimating that this was Moshe’s decision. Moshe did not make his own decisions. Hashem did. Korach essentially argued with G-d. We can ask a similar question concerning Korach’s dispute of the law of Tzitzis, which requires every garment to have Tzitzis, fringes. Korach questioned: if one strand of techeiles, purple wool, exempts the tallis, so, surely, a garment made completely of techeiles should be exempt. On the surface, his question had basis. Once again, he missed the most important principle: Everything comes from Hashem: every decision; every leadership choice; every halachah. Hashem declared that a garment of techeiles requires Tzitzis. It is what it is, and we accept Hashem’s assertion. We do not question Hashem.

Horav Yaakov Neiman, zl, quotes Rabbi Meir, who declared (Eiruvin 13b) that he could render one hundred and fifty logical reasons for purifying a sheretz, creepy creature/insect, which is deemed tamei, ritually impure. The question is asked: If Rabbi Meir was so certain that his logic was solid, why did he not purify the sheretz? Rav Neiman quotes the Alter, zl, m’Kelm, who derives from here that one does not rely (basic halachah) on his own seichel, cognitive analysis. If the Torah states that a sheretz is tamei, we must believe that not a single one of Rabbi Meir’s logical deductions are correct. We follow the Torah; we follow Hashem; we do not question.

Throughout the generations, some have thought that by their brilliant deductions, they could find loopholes in halachah through which they could alter tradition. We see what has resulted from their brand of halachic analysis. Korach had reasons to question, to dispute, but he forgot that we do not contravene Hashem. The Torah need not conform to our line of thinking. We must adjust our thought process to understand the Torah. Korach did not get it.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!