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Lesson of Korach

The Punishment of Korah- by Sandro Botticelli (1480–1482) in the Sistine Chapel.

The Punishment of Korah- by Sandro Botticelli (1480–1482) in the Sistine Chapel.

In this story, we must ask ourselves a very hard question: Sine Korach was a great and righteous person, how could he have fallen so low and so quickly?

The Midrash says that it was all because of Korach’s Wife, who said to him something like, ” look, Moses has all the money. He says he’s building a tabernacle but actually he just wants the money for himself. Korach’s wife was constantly nagging him. It is written: ” A woman can build or a woman can destroy.” 

In the secret of wisdom, a man’s house is his wife. If she is a woman of good and evil and he wishes to exchange a bad WOMAN foe a good one, he should redeem her from that evil one and give her worth. However, it says about a woman of the Tree of Life, THAT IS MALCHUT: ” gold and glass can not equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for the vessel of fine gold.(Job 28:17) She is invalluable, as it says, ” a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, (Proverbs 31:10) That is the Shechinah. Whoever does kindness by her shall receive invaluable recompense, and whoever is sinful to her shall receive punishment beyond measure. – The ZOhar, Korach 9:44

But blaming Korach’s wife is only the beginning of the explanation of Korach’s fall.

The very first word of this chapter is a clue: Vayikach, meaning ” and he took”. Out lesson here is that our spiritual work should awaken in us the need to give more than we take. But Korach was the opposite of this, wanting to receive everything for himself.

Moreover, the Talmud explains that Korach was extremely wealthy, as he had found the many riches accumulated and later hidden by Joseph in Egypt. Because of his wealth, he erroneously thought himself to be highly elevated and more important than everyone else, and this created within him an even greater drive to acquire yet more wealth.

learn, transform, connectThis was why Korach fell- because he remained a ” taker”. Even though he had all the knowledge of the Bible and was a learned student, his knowledge wasn’t enough to help him. We all face the same challenge when we start on our spiritual path. We think that coming to the temple on Shabbat. scanning the Zohar, using the 72 names of God, and studying will be enough. But in addition to performing spiritual actions, we have to transform ourselves from receivers to givers. Of course, it is very important to read the Zohar and to study, but far more important is how much we change inwardly. Even with all his learning, Korach never achieved that vital inner transformation. We ourselves should work towards that blessed result right now., whether we know the Zohar by heart or have just opened it for the first time today.

Shabbat Shalom!

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