Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Guest Post: Nathaniel Feingold - "On Korach"

Guest Post: Nathaniel Feingold's thoughts on Korach. Thank you Nathaniel, for allowing me to feature it here. 
Korah belonged to Am Yisrael, which was set apart from the rest of the peoples of the world.
Korah belonged to the tribe of Levi, which was set apart from the rest of the tribes of Yisrael.
Korah belonged to the family of Kehat, which was set apart from the rest of the families of Levi.
But none of this satisfied Korah, the son of Kehat's second son, Yitzhar.
Moshe was the youngest son of Kehat's firstborn son, Amram. He was chosen by God to be leader of the entire people of Yisrael. He was the closest thing Yisrael had to a human king at the time.
Aharon was the firstborn son of Kehat's firstborn son, Amram. He was chosen by God to be the Kohen Gadol, and for his sons and descendents to be Kohanim.
Elitzafan was the middle son of Kehat's youngest son, Uziel. He was appointed Nasi of the families of Kehat.
While Moshe and Aharon were the sons of Kehat's firstborn son, Elitzafan was a son of Kehat's youngest son.
Perhaps one could argue that Korah might have been satisfied not to lead Yisrael or to be Kohen Gadol if he had just been made Nasi of Kehat.
Perhaps it would not have been so unreasonable to Korah that the sons of the firstborn son of Kehat receive the first two offices, but to skip over him for the office of Nesi Kehat? Maybe this contributed to his discontent?
Yet Korah was already a Yisrael, he was already a Levi, he was already a Kehati, all special in their own way, and none of that satisfied him.
What reason is there to think that being Nesi Kehat would have satisfied him? Or being Kohen Gadol? Or even leading the entire nation?
What can possible satisfy someone who already has so much, and is nonetheless ready to rebel and attempt to overthrow the whole system over what he does not have?
Moshe, on the other hand, refused on at least two occasions for he and his descendants to be made "le-goy gadol" at the cost of the destruction of the rest of Am Yisrael.
One has to look very hard and carefully (Divrei HaYamim A' 23:14-17, 26:24-28) even to find out that Moshe's sons went on to make up two of the twenty-four divisions of the Levi'im.
And how easy would it have been for Aharon to assert that, being the firstborn of Amram, he should be leading the nation of Yisrael instead of his younger brother, Moshe?
We see shades of the rebellion of Korah later, in the days of Yarovam ben-Nevat.
While the tribes may have had legitimate gripes about the kingdom under Shelomo and Rehavam, Yarovam used their support as an opportunity to usurp the kingship from David, the priesthood from Aharon, the services from Levi, and the capital and chosen place from Yerushalayim and the Mikdash. And all of Yisrael who followed and supported him and his successors suffered from it.
How "fair" and "equal" of Yarovam to open up the kingship, priesthood, and service of the Levi'im up to any Yisreelite.
Yet it was God Who commanded the Levi'im to be set apart and carry out their services. Who decreed that Aharon and his sons be set apart as Kohanim and Kohanim Gedolim and to carry out their services. Who chose David and his descendents to be the legitimate kings of Yisrael. Who chose Yerushalayim and the Mikdash to place His name and for offerings to be brought.
Moshe did not choose himself to lead Yisrael. Moshe did not choose Aharon to be Kohen Gadol. Moshe did not choose the tribe of Levi. Just as David did not choose himself to be king of Yisrael.
What individual or group can decide what is "more fair" or "more equal" in Yisrael than the God, Who formed Yisrael and decreed these things? Everyone has their mission to carry out.
Korah had a mission to carry out within Am Yisrael, but he was not content to be Korah, and to do what Korah was meant to do for Am Yisrael.
Korah's descendant Shemuel HaNavi, on the other hand, spent his entire life serving HaShem and following His commands.
As Shemuel, the descendant of Korah, said when addressing all of Yisrael when they made Shaul king of Yisrael: "It is HaShem Who made Moshe and Aharon, and Who brought your fathers out of the land of Mitzrayim."
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