The Fate of Dissenters

Were Korach a lone angry individual bearing a grudge against Moses, nobody would have remembered his name or given him an entire chapter in the Torah. However, in our parashah we deal with a rebellion, as stated in Numbers 16:2. “וַיָּקֻ֙מוּ֙ לִפְנֵ֣י מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַאֲנָשִׁ֥ים מִבְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים וּמָאתָ֑יִם נְשִׂיאֵ֥י עֵדָ֛ה קְרִאֵ֥י מוֹעֵ֖ד אַנְשֵׁי־שֵֽׁם׃”.

The problem of the rebels is, in their opinion, the overwhelming amount of authority taken on by Moses and Aaron and their (alleged) reluctance to involve other people in the decision-making process. “You have gone too far! For all the community is holy, all of them, and יהוה is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above יהוה’s congregation?”.

Upon hearing this accusation, Moses falls on his face and lets God decide who is right. The rest is history. The punishment might seem too harsh to us. However, Talmud in Baba Meyzia 87 explains why the fire consumed even the rebels’ children. 

“Maintaining peace between human beings is so important that those who destroy it are judged and punished immediately regardless of age”.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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