Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Adulterous power (Korach)

"Korach accusing Moses" (AI image by author)
"Korach accusing Moses" (AI image by author)

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse. -Edmund Burke

According to Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Prague, the Kli Yakar (1550-1619), on Numbers 16:4, the great, holy Moses, the deliverer of the Torah, the Prophet of Prophets, the mortal to reach the highest levels of divine contact is accused of adultery. The Kli Yakar further explains that the antagonist of this week’s Torah reading, Korach, is the accuser and accuses Moses publicly.

Though the basic text of the Torah makes no mention of such an event, the Kli Yakar teases out the meaning from in-between the lines, and states that Korach, while not having any evidence to base such a wild accusation, had a good understanding of human nature and that men in power may succumb to such temptation.

Nobody doubts the ungraspable sanctity that Moses represented, and any thoughts of even the remote possibility of any wrongdoing on his part are unfathomable. However, it is no coincidence that men of power are frequently accused and found guilty of inappropriate behavior in this department. The Kli Yakar says that one is often a result of the other. The Talmud has at least two different references (Tractate Sotah 4b):

“One who raises himself above others, in the end commits adultery,”

The second one is that:

“One who raises himself above others, is as if he commits adultery.”

The reason for this, he explains, is that a man of power can’t abide to see others exerting any authority, even the influence that a man traditionally had in relation to his wife. For a man of power, even the normal relationship of a man and wife is one that he would seek to override and interpose himself in. The man of power, ever hungry for more control, will seek to rule and conquer even the most intimate and sacred relationships of others.

May we beware of those who exert power.

Shabbat Shalom,



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About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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