Torah with Star

All we need to bring Moshiach is one more act of goodness and kindness and one more person to want Moshiach to come.

This portion describes, in great detail, the rebellion led by Korach against Moshe and his older brother Aharon.

Everyone was aware of Moshe’s greatness. Everyone knew that Moshe spent a grand total of 120 days face-to-face with God on Sinai. How is it possible that anyone could have rebelled against Moshe?

Some background: There is a Yiddish expression: Azoi reich vi Korach, as wealthy as Korach. Korach was the chancellor of the exchequer for Pharaoh in Egypt. While balancing the books, he discovered a massive fortune that Joseph had collected during the seven years of plenty and had put away in a rainy-day fund.

Rabbi Herschel Finman
Rabbi Herschel Finman

Since no one else knew of the money, Korach absconded with the funds, amounting to what would be over $1 billion by today’s standards. There is an adage in the Talmud that a wealthy person deserves honor because HaShem has found it honorable to make this person wealthy. Korach, now being fabulously wealthy, felt he deserved honor, as well.

Korach was Moshe’s first cousin. When positions were assigned, Korach was bypassed. Moshe was chosen as king. Aharon was the high priest. The next job of honor was leader of the clan of Kehos and that position went to a younger cousin.

Korach saw prophetically that one of his descendants would be the prophet Samuel. About Samuel it is written, “Samuel in his day was like Moshe and Aharon in their day.” Armed with such knowledge, Korach felt he was a sure winner. It was easy to convince 250 Reubenites to join his coup. If successful, they would replace the Levites as servants in the temple, a re-establishment of the birthright to the firstborn of Jacob.

Together they approached Moshe. Korach asked Moshe, “Does a garment made of techailis (blue wool)  require tzittzits (fringes)?” Moshe said, “Yes.”

Korach laughed at him. “If one thread of blue exempts the garment, an entire blue garment should be exempt.”

(The commandment of tzitzits required one blue thread and three white threads. The blue dye was made from a chalozone —a sea mollusk native to the eastern Mediterranean. Once Jews moved away from that area more than 2,000 years ago, we are not sure what a chalozone is. Currently, tzitzits are all white.)

What did Korach want? The High Priesthood. This would offer the individual the ultimate God experience. Korach wanted that. His claim of the garments was that superficial, makif, godliness, was sufficient to bring Moshiach. Moshe’s reply was that the superficial needed to be internalized. Korach wanted to bypass the normal order of creation and bring Moshiach supernaturally. Moshe responded that it would not work. Moshiach could only come when the natural itself becomes uplifted to the supernatural.

All we need to bring Moshiach is one more act of goodness and kindness and one more person to want Moshiach to come.

Rabbi Herschel Finman is co-director (with wife, Chana) of Jewish Ferndale and host of “The Jewish Hour” radio show on WLQV 1500 AM — Sundays 11 a.m.-noon.