Vol. 8 # 34 JN 14-15, '96:
Korach (in Eretz Yisrael)
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein firstname.lastname@example.org
Uprooting the ShootsEverything that we do has an effect on the world at large, and an effect above, in the supernal realm. The Kabbalists refer to certain spiritual categories which can be identified in man; they also exist in the world about us. Man should endeavor to mirror G-d's qualities; in so doing, the entire world will come a measure closer to G-d's intended plan. If, however, man defies the challenge, and veers from imitating G-d's qualities, he can take the world farther from G-d's vision. Eventually, the supernal realm, too, will take cognizance -- and act accordingly.
In Parshas Shlach, we are told that G-d commanded the people by the hand of Moshe to send spies. They were to investigate the quality of the land. When they return with a negative report, the people lose faith and seek to return to Egypt. Joshua and Kalev protest, and the people try to kill them.
As a result of their lack of faith, G-d decrees that the people must remain in the desert for 40 years.
Contradiction: Whose idea?
In the Book of Deuteronomy (Devarim1:22) however, Moshe relates the events in a different manner. There, we are told that the entire idea of sending the spies originated with the people. It was not G-d's suggestion, nor Moshe's!
Many commentaries give the following explanation, based on the words of the Ramban (Nachmanides): The original idea was the people's. It was a poor idea, because G-d had told them how desireable the Holy Land was. However, He agreed to the plan, and actually commanded them that they had to to follow through with it. The reason? A mitzvah affords protection. Their own intentions were poor, but they could strengthen themselves with a Divine commandment. Their own personal fears and interests conflicted with the intentions of the Commander, however. As a result of their lack of dedication to the intentions of the mitzvah, it did not afford protection.
The Beis Yoseif, however, explained differently in his work, Magid Meisharim. The solution was presented that, as a result of previous complaints, G-d was already angry. In His great mercy, He granted them one additional test. The thought was planted in their minds to request spies. Moshe would tell them to see how beautiful the land was. Thus they would have one additional chance to hurry to the Land in joy. However, the spies told themselves: Moshe only mentioned the areas of which he is certain that the Land is blessed. Perhaps we will find negative qualities as well...
Indeed, they did find what they thought to be negative: The people who dwelt there were very powerful... "weak people, such as ourselves, cannot conquer such a territory..." They had failed their test.
Fom both answers we have the impression that wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we must try to find G-d's will -- and fulfill it. Anything can become a mitzvah -- even if our intentions were not originally so, or ideas were planted in our brains. Security, though, comes only from actually fulfilling G-d's will, or at least striving to fulfill it.
Korach began a major rebellion against Moshe. the essence of the story of Korach, according to Magid Meisharim, was the separation. Authority comes from the last spiritual category of the Kabbalists -- "malchus." However, "malchus" must raise the other categories along with it. Where there is elevation, everything must be elevated. If only the authority is elevated -- but remains isolated -- this is pure pride and haughtiness. So goes the story of Korach, the epitome of "argument not for the sake of Heaven." Korach is the epitome of self- elevation -- separation.
(c) Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Genesis, '97