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Korach in a Nutshell

Korach in a Nutshell

Numbers 16:1–18:32


Korach incites a mutiny challenging Mosesleadership and the granting of the kehunah (priesthood) to Aaron. He is accompanied by Moses’ inveterate foes, Dathan and Abiram. Joining them are 250 distinguished members of the community, who offer the sacrosanct ketoret (incense) to prove their worthiness for the priesthood. The earth opens up and swallows the mutineers, and a fire consumes the ketoret-offerers.

A subsequent plague is stopped by Aaron’s offering of ketoret. Aaron’s staff miraculously blossoms and brings forth almonds, to prove that his designation as high priest is divinely ordained.

G‑d commands that a terumah (“uplifting”) from each crop of grain, wine and oil, as well as all firstborn sheep and cattle, and other specified gifts, be given to the kohanim (priests).

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Jerry USA June 5, 2017

My perspective (and hopefully tasty food for thought) on the "after-life" question.

A creation with a creator who did not "set aside" a dimension for recompense has negative implications:

1) The creator is lacking in its abilities - why could they not create something infinite (i.e. the soul) if they are indeed themselves infinite?

2) The creator is evil - what good creator would choose to not reward the righteous for their steadfast loyalty and good conduct?

3) The creator is apathetic - after all, a world in which the only life we have is this life, brings an indictment against said creator: where is the justice? Where is the mercy? The two most common questions asked are, "Why do good things happen to bad people?" and "Why do bad things happen to good people?" - the deistic (a creator world bereft of an after-life) worldview transform a wise creator into a selfish and careless monster.

4) The creator is a purposeless entity.

And I will end on this note: I believe in Olam Haba. Reply

Shmuel J St. Louis June 22, 2017
in response to Jerry:

1) why do you think he didn't create something infinite? It could be our physical body shades that perception, so we would make better choices for our soul?
2) is a parent evil if he disciplines his child for behaving badly?. What do you know of rewards? Everyone has a different level of what is awarded them at their time, do you think?
3)this is precisely why He's infinite, because we don't understand, we're finite! We have limitations....but we do have the ability to perceive. To think beyond. Maybe it's to develope empathy for others .
4) a relationship is just get what you put into it.
I Reply

L'Dor Boston July 10, 2016

Korach sounds like the founder of Reform Judaism. Reply

Debbie New Zealand June 21, 2017
in response to L'Dor:

Actually Korach was a traditionalist he is a descendant of Reuben the first born and he is actually upset because according to tradition the firstborn should have inherited the leadership and the priesthood, but no God chose Moses from the tribe of Levy based on his merit as a leader, not on his good looks, his money, his lineage but on his ability to see the truth. I think you could learn something from Moses on this count. Reply

Ezra San diego July 9, 2016

No Afterlife I was 19 years old when I hit a ditch driving in a car in Wyoming. 60 miles per hour to dead stop. totaled the car, nothing left but the back trunk lid.
The seatbelts save my life.
For a brief time I left the physical realm and experienced the expansion and compression of time. Two minutes felt like 15 minutes, one hour became three years, 20 years felt like 2.5 seconds.
Floating in the dark, I realized I was alone, I tried to experience fear, but could not generate the emotional response. I came to the realization fear requires a body, and there is no fear without the flesh.
When The experience ended, I realized I was in a car accident and managed to get myself out of the car.
Passing motorist saw the accident and called the police, I later learned in the hospital someone had died in that spot on the opposite side of the road two weeks earlier. I had escaped with a sprained neck and had to wear a neck brace.
Now I try to live my life without fear, because fear has no power without A body. Reply

Mary Gill Savoren, President Temple Beth Shaloom, Sun City, Az June 16, 2015

Thank you for the ease in understanding this portion.

Ryan Gelb Woodmere June 14, 2015

What I got from the Parshah of the week Give incense or something that smells nice and everything will be fine Reply

Joyce Oxfeld Philadelphia June 17, 2014

A lingering image and a need to create a vision of the blooming almond blossoms. For years in reading the passages of Korach and visualizing the violent mutiny that threatened Aaron, and his chosen priesthood, as well as the violence of HaShem's response, it''s the end that stuck in my mind for many years. How the blooming of Aaron's rod, with blossoms and almonds signify HaShems choice. I am a visual artist, and am on my second attempt and I hope it will be complete in time for shabbos of my own personal vision of this. It's on canvas in acrylic and water color. I had to consult wikipedia for what an almond blossom looked like and budding almonds. I hope it works. Reply

Lianne Soh Singapore June 24, 2017
in response to Joyce Oxfeld:

Wow! May I see your art piece? It must be beautiful to behold as the artist sounds like a lovely friend from her sincere honest thoughts. Reply

David Levant Emerson,NJ June 16, 2014

Korach's mutiny was without merit. He sought only power. If he absolutely believed his cause was just why challenge Moses? He could have taken his 250 followers and journeyed out on his own. Reply

Anonymous Southern California June 3, 2013

afterlife Maimonides 13th article of faith of Judaism is: I believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead. The Jews have a great big cemetery on the slopes of the Mt. of Olives. They believe they will be the first to be resurrected on that day.
We will be held accountable for our deeds on this earth and we will all stand before the Bimah. Reply

Mark Ginzberg San Francisco, CA June 23, 2012

No Afterlife Sheol is the grave, the pit, where all mankind goes. Maybe later, Judaism was influenced by the Greek idea of Hades, the underworld, where the spirits go to. Rabbinic literature does talk about an afterlife, but there is no base for it in the Tanakh. When we die we sleep: Daniel 12:2; There are no thoughts: " His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; In that very day his thoughts perish." Psalms 146:4; The dead does not praise God: " The dead praise not God, Neither any that go down into silence Psalms 115.17,88:10;The dead does not have hope: "They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth." Isaiah 38:18; "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." Ecclesiastes 9:10. "But man dieth, and is laid low: Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
etc. Reply

Yisroel Levi June 19, 2012

Korach's downfall. Because Korach was of such high standing and still questioned the will of G-d, through Moshe, his sin was particularly shameful. He and his followers went straight into Gehinnom (Hell). However, in the time of redemption, 'nobody shall be missing' and Korach and his misguided followers will rejoin the children of Israel to welcome Moshiach. Reply

Anonymous palo alto, ca June 17, 2012

Rabbi vs. Prophet Nobody talks about one obvious and perhaps incovenient truth about this parsha. 250 Rabbis revolted against Moses and Aaron, and vanished. The basic lesson from this is that the rabbinical understanding of the Torah is secondary to the prophetic. And yet, many people approach Judaism as if it is the other way around. Reply

Anonymous Singapore June 24, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

good insight, thank you. Reply

yminoh June 17, 2012

alternative view I am a Jew and don't believe in a "spiritual afterlife". One lives on through Yizkor and Yartzeit. Do good and may your memory be a blessing. Do bad and may your memory be forgotten or cursed. Reply

Anonymous Flushing, NY June 24, 2011

Two Things 1) Jews certainly DO believe in an afterlife, as is made abundantly clear by the Rabbinic literature and commentary.

2) Sheol literally means the grave and does not necessarily mean "hell" or anything of that sort, although it is frequently interpreted to mean Gehinnom or purgatory. In fact, according to Talmudic tradition Korach and his followers were swallowed up by the earth and did in fact wind up in Gehinnom.

I hope these points satisfied your question. Reply

Walter Dorfman Fort Lauderdale, FL June 24, 2011

Sheol I thought Jews believe that there is no afterlife. Numbers 16 the rebels fall into SHEOL. Isn't that the afterlife? Reply

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