Numbers 16:1 – 18:32; 1 Samuel 11:14 – 12:22
Abstract of the Commentary by
Michael Schneider, Jerusalem:
This Shabbat’s Torah reading is about Korah’s rebellion. Korah descends from the Levitical family of Kehat. Altogether, there were 250 renowned men that “rose up” against Moses by doubting his and Aaron’s authority as the chosen national leaders.
As if the separation of the Levites by God Himself was not enough, this family
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Video Commentary by Rabbi Chaim Richman, The Temple Institute, Jerusalem:
What is the meaning of the Torah’s reference to the mysterious “covenant of salt?” (Numbers 17:19) Salt can be lifeless and deadly. It can also preserve, enhance and provide nourishment. Each one of us has within us an aspect of salt, the potential for lifelessness and the potential to enhance and increase life, thereby forging our own “covenant of salt” with G-d…
within the Levitical tribe did not want to tolerate any human authority. (“Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; and that He has brought you near, Korah, and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also?” verses 9-10)
Korah, Dathan and Abiram complain against Moses, but Moses defends God’s decision to appoint Aaron. Moses was not keen on being the only leader of the camp. That became apparent in his reaction to Eldad and Medad when they started prophesying. Moses responded to them: “Would that all the LORD’S people were prophets…” (11:29).
But Moses was not threatened, and even when Korah led his rebellion against him, Moses remained humble and brought the issue before God.
Moses’ humble response was followed by undeniable supernatural justice: “The ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions” (verses 31-32).
God is a God of justice and Moses knew it. When the people murmured again (17:6), God punished them with a plague. Aaron brought an atonement for the sins of the people with an incense offering and stood “between the dead and the living” for the plague to stop.
Subsequently, we read about God’s order to collect the rods of each tribe. The appointment of Aaron was confirmed among the murmuring and rebellious people: “The rod of the man whom I choose will sprout” (17:5). Almonds sprouted on Aaron’s rod! His rod became “a sign against the rebels” and was kept as a reminder.
- Here is the entire story in a small animation film: