Thursday, June 21, 2012

Parashat KORACH

Olive Tree in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke


"Vayikach Korach … - And Korach took"

The Torah doesn’t teach us what exactly Korach took and, as a result of this, various Torah commentators present us different interpretations. By the way, my English ARTSCROLL Stone Edition translates "took" with "Korach separated". Korach separated himself from the Jewish community and from G – d in order to follow his own plans and thus gain leadership. 

Until today we often see anxious Jews starting a career through Judaism but, in the end, forget about G – d and only think about their own goals. Lets say a Jew thinks that he could prove all Rabbis wrong and may become famous this way. 

When Jews start arguing that the Rabbis don’t interpret the Halachot in the right way but only they (those who start arguing) can do so. When Jews start their usual bashing against Orthodoxy. Then Koran, once again, is among us. 

The medieval Kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, brings a great commentary in his "Sha’ar HaPesukim". And, as many times, Rabbi Luria takes the subject of reincarnation as an example. Shet (Seth) and Hevel (Abel) were reincarnated in Moshe and it was Moshe’s task to rectify those reincarnated soul levels. Korach, on the other hand, was the reincarnation of Cain and what we find here is another struggle between the two brothers Cain and Hevel. 

Torah commentators as well as different Midrashim list us quite a variety of reasons why Cain killed his brother Hevel. Because Cain’s sacrifice wasn’t as accepted by G – d as his brother’s sacrifice. Thus Cain became jealous and killed Hevel. Another commentary teaches us that the two were fighting about the Tempel Mount (Har HaMoriah). Adam, Eve as well as their sons knew about the importance of the Tempel Mount where they used to live in those days. 

Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi, the author of the KUZARI, teaches that the two brothers were fighting about the Land of Israel. Who of the two would stand before Hashem (Lifne Hashem). See Kuzari 2:14. 

Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi interprets "Lifne Hashem" as "Eretz Israel". Both brothers were fighting about the land and who would be standing before G – d. In the end, it didn’t work out for both of them. One was dead and the other had to flee. 

The whole paragraph in the KUZARI speaks about prophecy in the Land of Israel but I am just taking this as an example in order to explain the struggle between the brothers. Now, in the desert, Moshe (Hevel) and Korach (Cain) are undergoing the same struggle and only one can win. 

Instead of working out a compromise, Kain (Korach) demanded leadership and thus didn’t rectify Cain’s reincarnated soul. Korach desired something which wasn’t meant for him. G – d alone decides about our tasks in life and many times we find out that certain goals will never work out because we are simply not meant to succeed. However, we are meant to maybe succeed in a different field. 

The famous Iraqi Rabbi and Kabbalist, Rabbi Yoseph Chaim (known by the name BEN ISH CHAI), 1832 – 1909, is asking "What it means that Korach never died ?" 

We may find the answer in ourselves, as all generations following Korach took a little bit of Korach with them. Until today we are willing to rebel and, at the same time, forget about G – d. At that moment, we only see ourselves. Our career, money, power, anything but totally forget that we are actually not in charge. There is and there will always be someone above us. Someone who decides whether and where we succeed. 

Shabbat Shalom – Gut Schabbes !

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