Make B’nai Yisrael Great Again

Korach, a member of the tribe of Levi took a group of 250 important people to rebel against Moshe and Aharon. Why would these intelligent leaders agree to follow Korach?

According to Ibn Ezra, B’nei Yisrael believed that it was Moshe’s decision (not God’s) to take the job of working in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) away from the bechorim (first born sons of every tribe) and transfer it to the Kohanim (priests) immediately after the sin of the golden calf. They were under the false impression that Moshe did this on purpose in order to give preference to his own family members. The Leviim (members of the tribe of Levi) were upset that they were chosen to be subservient to the Kohanim (Aharon, Moshe’s brother and his children). The tribe of Reuven felt that they were deprived of their birthright which was transferred to Joseph’s descendents. They suspected that Yehoshua favored his own tribe (Ephraim) over the other tribes.

Ramban explains that Korach did not yet have enough fuel for his fire after the sin of the golden calf so he did not start his rebellion at that time. Rather, he waited until after B’nai Yisrael were punished in Taverah (where they complained for no apparent reason), Kivrot HaTeavah (where they lusted for meat) and the sin of the meraglim (spies) where they were condemned to death in the wilderness.

According to Ramban this was the perfect moment for Korach to start his mutiny. When the nation felt at their worst, Korach blamed all of their troubles on Moshe and Aharon even though ultimately all of these decisions were made by God.

Korach can be looked at as the first politician, blaming all of the nation’s problems on the current leadership, a tactic that is still used today. The politician gives an impression that if they are elected they will be able to correct all of the nations problems which were created by the former government.

For Korach to blame Moshe and Aharon for the problems that B’nai Yisrael brought upon themselves was simply not fair.

Good politicians do not need to rip apart the governments that came before them, they just need to prove that they are the best candidates for the job.

Unfortunately for Korach, he was not destined to have a career in politics and he and his followers were swallowed up by the earth.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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