The incident of the spies, recounted in the previous section, underscored the importance of entering the Land of Israel in order to fulfill G‑d’s commandments in the physical world. Soon afterward, Moses’ cousin Korach staged a rebellion against Moses’ authority.
The Danger of Either-Or Thinking
וַיָּקֻמוּ לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה וגו': (במדבר טז:ב)
[Korach and his supporters] confronted Moses. Numbers 16:2

Korach mistakenly concluded from the incident of the spies that the study of the Torah is not intrinsically superior to the performance of the commandments. Therefore, he reasoned, a person who works for a living has no need to aspire to moments of “reconnection” to spirituality. As such, he further concluded that there is no need for an elite class of individuals – the tribe of Levi, the priests, and the high priest in particular – who would be devoted exclusively to the spiritual life in order to inspire the rest of us.

Moses responded to Korach’s claims by telling him that a clergy devoted exclusively to the service of G‑d is indeed necessary, in order to inspire those involved in the mundane world and instruct them as to what is permitted and what is prohibited. Without such inspiration and guidance, it is too easy to lose sight of our ideals and end up as slaves to materiality rather than its masters.1