Sharona Margolin Halickman

Why are the gifts for the Kohanim in Parshat Korach?

Photo Courtesy Sharona Halickman

After the account of Korach’s rebellion, we read in Bamidbar 18:8:

God spoke to Aaron: “Behold I place in your charge My Truma gifts, of all the sanctities of B’nai Yisrael, to you and your children as an anointed right, as an everlasting decree.”

Why are the gifts for the Kohanim specifically mentioned here?

Rashi explains that the term “behold” denotes joy. This is compared to a king who gave a field to a good friend, but did not write or sign a deed or register it with the authorities. Someone came and claimed the property. The king said to him: “Whoever wishes will come and claim against you. Behold, I will write and sign a deed to you, and register it with the authorities.” Here too, because Korach came and claimed the Kehuna (Priesthood) from Aaron, God presents him with 24 Matanot Kehuna (gifts) with the eternal covenant of salt. This is why the chapter was placed here.

The passage about the Matanot Kehuna concludes with verse 19:

All of the sacred Truma gifts that B’nai Yisrael offer to God, I have given to you, your sons and daughters with you as an everlasting portion; an eternal covenant of salt before God to you and your children that are with you.

Rashi comments that just as salt never spoils, so too the Matanot Kehuna will never cease.

The Talmud, Chulin 133b teaches that whoever upholds the 24 Matanot Kehuna is considered as if they observed the generalizations and specifications of the Torah as well as the covenant of the salt.

Some of the Matanot Kehuna are still in effect today even though we don’t have the Beit HaMikdash. Some examples are Truma, Trumat Maaser, Challah and Pidyon HaBen (the redemption of the first born son).

In Israel, the mitzvot of Truma and Maaser are still in effect on a rabbinic level. When we buy produce, we have to make sure that the place where we shop has taken care of separating Trumot and Maasrot. If they haven’t been taken out, then we have to remove them on our own.

No matter where one is located in the world, when a Jewish person bakes bread, they must remove a piece of the dough which symbolically would have gone to the Kohen. As well, a father is obligated to redeem his firstborn son at the age of one month by paying five selaim to the Kohen.

Even those gifts that are only given when the Beit HaMikdash is standing will once again be in effect when the Temple is rebuilt.

May we see the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash speedily is our days where we will then have the opportunity to bring all 24 Matanot Kehuna to the Kohanim.

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.
Related Topics
Related Posts