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ונסעו הקהתים נשאי המקדש

Then journeyed the Kehasim, bearers of the Sanctuary. (10:21)

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Interestingly, the Torah refers to the Leviim who descended from Kehas as Kehasim, and those who descended from Gershon and Merari as Bnei Gershon and Bnei Merari. Why? Korban Ani explains that the sons of Kehas were zoche, merited, to carry the Aron and the other holy vessels. This was because they were a very close-knit, unified family. In Bereishis 49:10, Yaakov Avinu blesses Yehudah with the words, V’lo yikhas amim, “And his will be an assemblage of nations. Yikhas/kehas refers to an assemblage/congregation/aggregate, a gathering of people working together with a common goal. As a result of their achdus, family unity, the Kehasim, unified ones, merited to carry the Aron.

An inspirational explanation, but what about Korach? He was a member of the family of Kehas. He has gone down in infamy as the symbol of machlokes, dissent, controversy, divisiveness. Where does he belong in the equation? Horav Sholom Schwadron, zl, quotes Horav Leib Chasman, zl, who compares this to an unused cannon which has lain dormant for fifty years near one of the walls of Yerushalayim. This cannon had been forgotten after the war and did not bother anyone, until one day someone walked by the area and flicked a burning cigarette which landed on the cannon (which was still filled with unused gun powder). One can only begin to imagine the explosion that erupted as a result of that one burning cigarette. For fifty years, no one had walked there, and the cannon lay dormant, until one day… Likewise, Korach carried the Aron, maintained a harmonious relationship with everyone, until one day something ticked him off: Elitzafan ben Uriel became the Nasi, Prince. That was the burning cigarette that brought out the real Korach.


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