July 1, 2016
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon
Korach chronicles the greatest rebellion in the entire Torah, the palace revolt of the Levite Korach and his 400 followers against the divinely ordained leadership of his fellow Levites, Moses and Aaron. As so often seems to be the case, we Jews are our own worst enemies. The result of this insurrection is disastrous, at least for the rebels. The earth opens and Korach and all of his misguided followers are swallowed up, never to be heard from again.
By tradition, the rebellion of Korach is the absolute worst revolt of its sort in Jewish history. But this is hardly the first rebellion of the Israelites against Moses’ leadership, and it is certainly also not the last. In a couple of weeks the Torah portion of Pinchas will conclude yet another episode of an insider revolution, that one solved by the point of a spear. And the rebellions against Moses and God have been pretty continuous: the criticism on the very shore of the Red Sea, the Golden Calf episode, the intense unhappiness of the Children of Israel throughout their peregrinations in the desert right up to last week’s story of the failed spies in Shlach L’cha. Our ancestors had a very bad habit of constantly being dissatisfied and continuously trying to overthrow the proper order of things. Whoever was in charge always got the brunt of the criticism and the lion’s share of the hostility.