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Korach ~ קורח ~ 5774
Korach, Datan, Aviram and 250 leaders of Israel rebel against the authority of Moshe and Aharon. Datan and Aviram refuse Moshe’s summons to negotiate. Korach and the rebels appear the next day to undergo a sacrificial contest to determine G-d’s chosen. The rebellion results in their being swallowed by the earth. Many resent their death and blame Moshe. G-d’s “anger” is manifested by a plague that besets the nation and thousands perish.
The incense censers of the 250 men were collected by Eleazar the priest, and made into plates for the covering of the Altar of burnt-offering, as a warning that only Aaron and his descendants were permitted to burn incense before G-d.
While some blamed Moses and Aaron, many were punished by a plague. Moses told Aaron to take a censer of fire and incense from the Altar moving among the people and pray for their forgiveness, but not before 14,700 people had died.
The prince of each of the twelve tribes brought a rod inscribed with his name along with one with Aaron’s name, and those were deposited before the ark. In the morning, only Aaron’s rod was found to have sprouted buds, blossoms and almonds—a clear sign that G-d had chosen him to be the High Priest.
Because the Kohains receive no portion of the land, they are the ones to receive the Meal-Offering, Sin Offerings and Guilt-Offerings; the portions of the Peace-Offerings waved on the Altar; the first-fruits of oil, wine and corn; firstlings of clean animals and the redemption price of the firstborn of men. In return for their service in the Tabernacle, the Levites were to receive from the Israelites 1/10 of the produce of the fields, from which the Levites set aside 1/10 for the priests.
MAFTIR Numbers 18:30 – 32 ~ page 648
HAFTARAH Samuel I 11:14—12:22 ~ page 649
Samuel the Prophet renews the kingship of Saul, but he reminds the people that it is a bad idea to have a human king in the first place. Samuel, who was a descendant of Korach, exhorts the nation to follow the ways of G-d. He criticizes them for wanting a king while at the same time, pointing out that everyone, including the king, is subject to G-d’s law. The connection to this week’s parashah is the fact that Samuel was a descendent of Korach. Whereas Korach expressed a right to interpret the Torah as he saw fit, Samuel tells the people that the success of the king and the nation is totally dependent upon their adherence to the letter of the law. In the end, it was Korach’s own grandson who founded our nations leadership upon the unquestioned teachings of Moshe Rabbeinu.
Parashah Study Questions
1. If there were 70 appointed elders, as well as “Judges of thousands (600), hundreds (6,000), fifties (12,000) and tens” (60,000 for a total of 78,670 who shared Moshe’s leadership) , How could Korach claim that Moshe took all the honor (v.16:3)?
2. How did each man have his own fire pan ready (v. 16:17)?
3. Why must Aaron use incense to save the people from the plague (v. 17:11)?
4. Any horticultural problems or contradictions in v.17:23?
5. Why is there a ritual of blessing for the new month on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh?