Parshat Korach: Defining our closeness to God

The episode of Korach is narrated in the Torah for the sole purpose of underlining the qualities that enable us to be the closest we may be to our Creator. Aaron was evidently the most qualified person to perform the duties that make us the holiest in order to bond with the Holiest of all.

“In the morning the Lord will show who are His and who is holy, and will cause him [Aaron] to come close to Him; even him whom He may choose, He will cause to come close to Him.”
(Numbers 16:5)

Our oral tradition and sages remark that Aaron’s utmost trait was his ability to make peace among individuals, for peace is the ultimate state of consciousness God wants us to achieve in the material world as a reflection of the peace that reigns in the spiritual world. Such wholeness we can only achieve through our closeness to God. We do it by knowing Him in our study of the Torah that teaches us the ways He relates with His creation.

“Be among the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them close to Torah.” (Ethics of the Fathers 1:12)

In this context we realize that peace and love are the means and also the end of goodness as our essence and common bond with God. The psalmist also understood that these qualities interact and manifest within the ethical frame that truth demands. Hence we are, have and manifest goodness because it is the right thing to do as the truth we want to make prevail in our lives.

“Loving kindness and truth met, righteousness and peace kissed.” (Psalms 85:10)

Aaron and Moses shared these qualities and our sages equate the former to loving kindness and peace, and the latter to truth and righteousness. Thus we assimilate that the two brothers had to be together in order to fulfill God’s will for Israel, either be confronting the Pharaoh of Egypt or Korach’s companions as the declared enemies of the closeness God wants us to have with Him.

“And Moses said, ‘Hereby you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, and that I have not done them of mine own mind’.” (Numbers 16:28)

We are reminded again that while Aaron represents the awareness of our permanent bond with God, Moses represents our knowledge of Him, for knowing God is the means to be close to Him. Once we learn to know our Creator by how He relates with us, we will be able to experience the blessing of bonding with His ways and attributes.

“All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the grain, the first part of them which they [the people of Israel] give to the Lord, to you [Aaron] have I given them.” (18:12)

All these “best” qualities that sustain us and make life good and meaningful are the ways and attributes God wants to share with us. The “oil” as the fire we need to light up our awareness and discernment of goodness, the “wine” as the joy and happiness goodness brings to us, and the “grain” as the material sustenance to keep us live and moving in this world. These are what God gives us by our closeness to Him, which we as Israel also give back to God as the offerings we elevate to Him through the priests [Aaron and his descendants] that represent the awareness of our permanent bond with the Creator.

“And the Lord said to Aaron, ‘you shall have no inheritance in their [Israel’s] land, neither shall you have any portion among them; [for] I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.” (18:20)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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