Korach: Korach in Modern Garb

Korach was a “democrat”. And not just an ordinary democrat, he was also a socialist as we will soon discover from analyzing the verses in this week’s parsha.

Korach incites the entire nation against Moshe and Aaron, and it is somewhat perplexing how he is able to do this. Granted, he was a talented and charismatic leader. However, how does he succeed in gaining the support of two hundred and fifty leaders of the Sanhedrin and princes of the tribes to turn against Moshe Rabeinu, who just recently delivered them out of bondage in Egypt, and the beloved Aaron, lover and pursuer of peace.

The Demagoguery of Equality

Korach, a master instigator and demagogue, knew how to play on the people’s insecurities. He came to them and said: Fellow Jews, Moshe is taking over. He anointed himself as king, made his brother the Kohen Gadol-High Priest, appointed his nephews as assistants to the Kohen – and the rest of you he throws to the dogs. In this manner, Korach stirs up the people, rallying a mass movement against Moshe and Aaron, to whom Korach delivers a speech based on the theme of “equality”. “All the people in the congregation are holy and G-d is with them”, he proclaims. Obviously, Korach doesn’t openly challenge G-d as part of his rabble-rousing. On the contrary! Everyone is holy. The emphasis here is on “everyone”. And so, if each and every one of us is holy, why does Moshe make himself superior to the rest of the congregation of G-d?? Why should he be the main man, deciding who receives all the respectable positions? In short, Korach is preaching democracy!

The sages tell us another well known story. Korach gathers the people together and tells them a shocking tale: A poor widow whose only possession is a single lamb, slaughters it for food. And behold, come the Kohanim and the Levites from all directions to get a piece of the action. This one takes part of the wool, that one grabs the thigh and breast,and others take tithes, until the poor lady is left practically emptyhanded. Alas, the “socialist” soul of the people is now awakened.

A Lesson For Today

How applicable is the story of Korach today? Korach is able to incite the entire nation with a giant propaganda campaign that he is “for the people”, “for equality”, and for a socialism in which even the poor and the elderly benefit. But the truth is that all of his pontifications were brought on by nothing more than a simple jealousy of Moshe Rabeinu, and lust for power.

Thus, we must remember – though it may be true that every third word that comes out of the mouths of Israel’s politicians today is “democracy” (and its amusing how they feel the need to constantly justify themselves to us on this point), we must always remember – the more power the politician has, the more he uses this demagogic slogan. Even if they seem concerned about some poor widow and expose her ordeal on the television news, it is only headlines they seek. Beware of them. May G-d save the people of Israel from selfish leaders who seek not the welfare of the Jewish people but rather their own honor and glory like Korach.

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