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Drash on Korach 2024

Rabbi Benjamin Meijer Verbrugge

United Indonesian Jewish Community

Personal ambition or sake of heaven?

One of the main themes is Korach’s uprising against Moses and Aaron. Korach questioned their leadership and the reason behind their power. This illustrates the need of honoring those in positions of divine appointment and the notion that being a leader involves more than just having authority—it also entails accountability and service.

What made him initiate the altercation? The fact that Elitzafhan, the son of his father’s brother, had become the prince over his family touched him; according to Numbers 3:30, “Elitzafhan, son of Uzziel, was the prince of the father’s house of the families of the Kohathites.” According to Korach, “the sons of Kohath: Amram, Yitzhar, Hebron, and Uziel” (Exodus 4:18), my father was one of four brothers. The eldest Amram’s son Aaron became a renowned man and Musa became a prince. Who then ought to assume office? This is the following line, right? I should now head the Kohathites as I am the son of Yitzhar. However, Moses named Uzziel’s son! Is the youngest son of the sibling of my father taller than me? Look, I shall disprove his ruling and undo everything he has decreed… (Rashi; Midrash Rabbah).

I believe that the cause of this internal conflict within groups is the pursuit of individual interests above the holy community goal. Notwithstanding his claims to be defending justice and the truth (the Torah), Korach’s challenge was motivated by jealousy and self-interest. Despite having a bad heart, Korach was a good man for the Jews in those days and had great intentions. His dream was to become a high priest. Korach erred when he attempted to topple Moses, Hashem’s appointed leader, by using the incorrect form of revolt.

The positive aspect of Korach, which is his sincere desire to serve the people, become a High Priest, or elevate ourselves spiritually, must continue to be our spiritual objective; all it takes is for us to defend immoral practices by disgracing and undermining the leader to fulfill his dream.

This demonstrates the damaging effects of envy and how it may cause strife and division. It acts as a cautionary tale about prioritizing individual needs over the welfare of the community. The consequences of Korach’s rebellion—which caused sorrow for him and his family—are surely taught in the Torah. Korah did not perform Kavod HaRav. Korach and his companions suffered a terrible punishment—they were eaten by the earth—which emphasizes the dire repercussions of defying divine authority. It emphasizes how crucial humility and surrender to God’s will are. When disagreements and issues arise, you must constantly consider why you are acting the way that you are. Are you doing everything you do just to get to heaven? Inquire of others about their opinions of you.


The techniques in which Moshe and Aharon settled the dispute were exquisite. They incorporated God into all facets of community life by putting into practice The Power of Prayer and Intercession. The power and significance of prayer and intercession on behalf of others, especially in the face of opposition and war, is demonstrated by Moses and Aaron’s response to the revolt, which included falling on their faces and praying. The staff’s miraculous emergence confirmed Aaron’s position as High Priest. This teaches the value of appreciating and honoring God’s appointments and designations, signifying the unique holiness and divine selection of the priesthood.

In the face of the overwhelming unanimity and support for Korah, Moses prayed, saying, “Lord, knowing the thoughts of everyone, please show Your justice and judgment to those who are responsible for this act according to their hearts, and do not punish them for their external actions.” Musa made an effort to see things from a different angle by speculating that their malevolent deeds might have been driven by good intentions. (Bamidbar 16:22) Belief in the justice of God: God’s justice will ultimately triumph, as demonstrated by the way Korach’s rebellion was put down. This strengthens the conviction that there is divine supervision and that justice will ultimately prevail over rebellion and strife.

The case of Korach served as a reminder of both societal and personal roles: This parasha emphasises that each person plays a distinct function in the community. Korach’s attempt to seize the priestly responsibilities demonstrates his contempt for this holy law. It instills the importance of identifying and carrying out one’s assigned task. These timeless lessons from Parasha Korach give insightful perspectives on faith, community, leadership, and the human condition. They can be utilised in a variety of situations.

Dr. Benny Meijer P., S.Pd., M.A., M.Th./Phil., M.M., a Rabbi, Lecturer, Business & Legal Consultant, Hypnotherapist

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