Parashat Korach 5778
by HaRav Nachman Kahana
Question: Korach’s punishment is seemingly excessive in proportion to his sin; HaShem saw to it that there would not be even a grave which one could throw stones at; Korach was swallowed up into the bowels of the earth, never to be seen again. In contrast President Trump’s successes are “excessive” in relation to the short time that he has been in office. The US economy is healthy, unemployment is the lowest in many years, Wall Street is sizzling and there is no social unrest to speak of. Why?
Korach undermined the most critical presence of HaShem in this world. As the sole creator of all, He has the immutable right to do with His creations as He wishes, and certainly to mandate a hierarchy from the most primitive biologic entity to the highest spiritual human being.
This hierarchy exists in the upper spiritual world where HaShem created 7 levels of Shamayim (heavens) where the existence of angels is in accordance with their innate ability to grasp HaShem’s essence and is present in this world on a similar basis.
The hierarchy’s foundation is found in the Book of Bereishiet (Genesis). After the flood HaShem arranged the three sons of Noach – the progenitors of the human races – in a particular order according to HaShem’s discretion, as stated in Bereishiet 9,25-27):
כה) ויאמר ארור כנען עבד עבדים יהיה לאחיו:
כו) ויאמר ברוך יקוק אלהי שם ויהי כנען עבד למו:
כז) יפת אלהים ליפת וישכן באהלי שם ויהי כנען עבד למו:
25 And he said: “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem”.
27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Shem.
The lowest status of mankind is relegated to the race of Cham; a higher status was given to the children of Yephet (Japheth) when he is under the influence of Shem, and the superior race of mankind is the descendants of Shem.
HaShem continued to construct His hierarchy as brought in parshat Noach through the generations of Shem until Terach: Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Ever, Peleg, Reu, Nachor, Terach.
Terach’s son, Avram, whose name was later changed by HaShem to Avraham – the father of multitudes (of all humanity), was chosen to be the father of the future Am Yisrael.
HaShem chose Yitzchak, son of Avraham after rejecting Yishmael. Then He chose Ya’akov while rejecting Aisav. From Ya’akov’s 12 sons, the third, Levi was chosen to be the closest to HaShem. From the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his four sons were chosen to be Kohanim who would serve in the most sanctified place in the Mishkan and later in the Bet Hamikdash. From the Kohanim HaShem chose the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, who would enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, which was the “stairway’ to heaven from this world.
(This might seem to be a racist approach to humanity, to claim that the Jews are the chosen race, but in fact the Jews are anything but racist. Race is defined as a category of people whose definition is decided at the moment of birth and cannot be changed. A person of color cannot become white, just as a white cannot become a member of the black race. However, since a gentile can become a Jew through halachic conversion we are not racists.)
When Korach heard from Moshe that from the tribe of Levi, HaShem had chosen Aharon and his sons to be Kohanim and Aharon himself as the Kohen Gadol, Korach objected and claimed that HaShem has no favorites, hence all Jews are equally holy and therefore anyone can serve as a Kohen.
The implications of Korach’s claim was an unravelling of the entire human hierarchy that HaShem had instituted, implying that all men and all races are equal, and when taken to its extreme any human being can be a Kohen to serve HaShem. On the practical level, the thousands of gay marchers in Tel Aviv last Shabbat may claim not only recognition, but acceptance as equals to the most observant talmid chacham, because all men are equal. It is the prelude to United States’ liberalism which advances people not according to their virtues, but according to their minority status. (An unexperienced black woman has more chance of attaining public office than a white male trained public official).
Korach’s claim and its implications were so far reaching and detrimental to HaShem’s agenda that he was banished from all contact with others, dead or alive, so the ideas that he brought forth would never be repeated.
In contrast to Korach, President Trump is succeeding in every effort for only one reason; It’s not his brilliance, nor his personality – It is only HaShem’s blessing on the man who recognizes the uniqueness of the Jewish people, by his loyalty to the Jews in Medinat Yisrael.
The President represents tens of millions of Christian Fundamentalists who recognize that the Creator chose the Jews as His own. And despite the fact that they have a Christian agenda which has to become reality through the Medina and our return to the holy land, it does not matter at this stage in our history. President Trump will continue to succeed as long as he does not betray our Medina.
Two sides of the same coin. One side is recognition that we are HaShem’s chosen people, and the other side is Korach’s rejection.
Conclusion: The most basic principle of Judaism is that HaShem chose the Jewish nation from all other nations or races of humanity. One who rejects this basic principle can be a Jew in name but not in belief.
Copyright © 5778/2018 Nachman Kahana