Questions and Concepts for Parsha Korach
(Numbers 16:1 - 18:32)
  1. The beginning of the Parsha shows that Korach had a distinguished lineage: "And Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehas, the son of Levi ..." (Numbers 16:1) It is taught that Korach prophetically saw that great men would descend from him one day. (i.e., the prophet Samuel is a descendant of Korach.) How may this view of greatness before and after him affected Korach’s perception of his own "greatness" and subsequent actions? What was missing in Korach that was present in others who did achieve spiritual greatness?
  2. Korach persuaded a lot of people to follow him in his rebellion. Most of these were from the Tribe of Reuben, who lived in the camp next to Korach. What might this tell us about staying close to people who have the right values and away from those who don’t?
  3. Contrast the humility of Moses, who in the midst of a rebellion, asked to meet with Datan and Aviram in order to make peace, with their response and that of Korach. Moses, considered the humblest of men, was accused by the rebels of being "haughty." They were punished by the earth swallowing them up alive. How can this punishment by God be considered "measure for measure?"
  4. All character traits have a positive and negative aspect. Even jealousy can be used appropriately in that one can look at someone else’s accomplishments and strive to do as well. How can the desire of the rebels in this Parsha be viewed as a sincere intention?
  5. Korach made a statement that is essentially true when he claimed, "The entire congregation is holy …" (Numbers 16:3) Were all the Jewish people at the highest level of holiness expected of them?
  6. Several Parshas back, Miriam was punished for speaking evil ("lashan hara") against Moses. In last weeks Parsha, the spies spoke evil against the land. How might the actions of Korach and his men be seen as "lashan hara" against Aaron and the priesthood?
  7. Korach and the rebels received a very terrible punishment. How does this reflect the gravity of their sin of causing division? How does this relate to the unity of creation and of God? The name "Korach" itself means a bald spot. How does this reflect the idea of division?
  8. Consider this concept:
    God warned Moshe and Aaron, "Separate yourselves from this assembly and I will destroy them in an instant!" (Numbers 16:20) Similarly, at the time of the last of the ten plagues against Egypt, God had the Hebrews mark their doors so that the angel of death would not strike them. In both cases, why was this necessary? Does not God have the capability of "hitting his targets?" (i.e., as He did with the sons of Aaron.) There are differing levels of judgment from God. When "unmitigated judgment" is released, the forces of evil are allowed to participate and they do not restrain themselves in the same fashion as God does when His "restricts" His judgment.
    (Compare to the judgments found in the book of Revelation and how those with the "mark of God" upon their heads are protected.) Compare the instances of severe punishment from God with the sin of causing division.