Friday, June 15, 2007

Korach and his followers or maybe not?

We mentioned last week that the sin of the meraglim was in the sod, the conspiracy that they engaged in by informing Moshe and Aharon regarding the good of the land and then informing the Jewish People regarding the negative aspects of the land. Continuing in the theme that the sins area alluded to in the words of Yaakov to his sons, we can suggest that Yaakov summed up in a few words the sin of Korach and his congregation. It is said (Bereishis 49:6) bikhalam al teichad kevodi, with their congregation do not join, O my honor. The word teichad , literally meaning to join, is derived from the word echod, oneness. The Mishnah in Avos (5:20) states: any dispute that is for the sake of Heaven will have a constructive outcome; but one that is not for the sake of Heaven will not have a constructive outcome. What sort of dispute was for the sake of Heaven? The dispute between Hillel and Shammai. And which was not for the sake of Heaven? The dispute of Korach and his entire company.

The commentators point out that regarding Korach it is said “the dispute of Korach and his company,” i.e. Korach and his congregation were also not on the same team, as they had an internal dispute. Although it is not explicit in the Torah that Korach and his followers were in dispute with each other, it can be said that since they each desired to become the Kohen Gadol, it was impossible that they would all be in agreement. Yaakov foresaw this and declared, “ I am the ish emes, the man of truth, and my honor will not join, i.e. be in unison, with this internal dispute.

It is certain that if wicked people band together for evil purposes, a righteous person should distance himself unequivocally, as the Gemara (Sanhedrin 71b) states that the gathering of the wicked is detrimental for them and for the world. Nonetheless, if there is a common goal then there is some merit, as we find that the generation of the Dispersion was not destroyed because they had peace amongst themselves (Rashi Bereishis 11:9). A dispute such as the one Korach and his followers engaged in, however, was doomed from the beginning, as they did not even have unity amongst themselves. For this reason Yaakov declared that he would not even consider that his honor should join in their dispute, as internal dissent is a harbinger for disaster. May HaShem grant true peace on us and on the entire Jewish People.

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