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THE RISE OF THE REBEL

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Korach had a noble aspiration for priesthood, but he misunderstood its nature and purpose. He challenged G-d’s wisdom and authority, and was swallowed by the earth. Yet Korach will rise again and serve G-d as the high priest, when he rectifies his mistake and changes his heart.

by Bing AI

The biblical story of Korach's rebellion against Moses and Aaron is a complex and fascinating one. Korach was a Levite who wanted to be the high priest (kohen gadol) himself, and he challenged Moses' authority and legitimacy. He was punished by G-d along with his followers by being swallowed up by the earth (Midrash Rabbah Numbers 18:3).


What motivated Korach to rebel? What did he hope to achieve? How can we understand his aspiration for priesthood in light of his sin?


One possible way to approach these questions is to use the concept of kabbala, which is the mystical dimension of Judaism. Kabbala teaches that there are different levels of reality, called sefirot, that emanate from G-d and reflect His attributes. The sefirot are arranged in a structure called the Tree of Life, which consists of ten sefirot connected by 22 paths. The sefirot can also be associated with different aspects of the human soul, such as intellect, emotion, will, etc. (Zohar III:176a-b).


According to kabbala, Korach corresponded to the sefirah of Netzach, which means victory or endurance. Netzach is related to ambition, leadership, courage, and persistence. It is also associated with the right leg and foot, which symbolize movement and progress. Korach had a strong netzach quality, which drove him to seek leadership and challenge authority. He also wanted to move forward and reach higher levels of spirituality.


However, netzach needs to be balanced by another sefirah called Hod, which means splendor or gratitude. Hod is related to humility, submission, acknowledgment, and appreciation. It is also associated with the left leg and foot, which symbolize stability and grounding. Hod is the sefirah that corresponds to Aaron, who was humble and grateful for his role as the high priest. He also acknowledged G-d's sovereignty and followed His commands.


The kohen gadol represented the sefirah of Tiferet, which means beauty or harmony. Tiferet is related to compassion, balance, integration, and synthesis. It is also associated with the torso and heart, which symbolize life and love. Tiferet is the sefirah that corresponds to Moses, who was compassionate and balanced in his leadership. He also integrated all the sefirot in his soul and synthesized them in his service to G-d (Tanya chapter 4).


Korach needed to learn from Aaron and Moses how to balance his netzach with hod and tiferet. He needed to humble himself before G-d and accept His will. He needed to appreciate his role as a Levite and serve G-d with gratitude. He needed to harmonize his ambition with compassion and balance his movement with stability.


Alternatively, we can imagine how Korach could have achieved his aspiration for priesthood in a positive way. According to some sources (Talmud Sanhedrin 110a), Korach will be resurrected in the future world and will become the kohen gadol himself. This will happen when he will repent for his sin and recognize G-d's wisdom in choosing Moses and Aaron. He will also realize that his desire for priesthood was not motivated by ego or envy, but by love for G-d and His Torah. He will then be able to serve G-d as the high priest with purity and holiness.


We can draw lessons for our own lives from this story. We can ask ourselves: What are our aspirations and goals? How do we balance them with humility and gratitude? How do we harmonize them with compassion and harmony?

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