Rabbi Yonah Burr
Korach: The Choice of Despite or Because
והיה האיש אשר יבחר ד' הוא הקדוש, רב לכם בני לוי
And the man that Hashem chooses, he will be the holy one. It is too much for you, children of Levi
Moshe made it clear that although Korach with his two hundred and fifty followers are invited to offer the ketores together with Aharon, only one will be accepted; the rest will perish. The one whom Hashem chooses will be designated as Hashem’s kohein, and all the others will be eternally rejected.
Rashi asks, ‘Korach after all was a wise man; what made him pursue this folly, and why did he think he more than anyone else would be deemed the chosen one?’
Answers Rashi; ‘he was fooled by a vision that he saw. Korach saw a tremendous chain of descendants destined to follow him. The prophet Shmuel, leader of the Jewish People, equal in some ways to Moshe and Ahron would be his descendant. In addition to this, his children and grandchildren would make up the twenty-four families of Leviim, some of which would be prophets, destined to serve in the Bais Hamikdash. Surely all this greatness is not for naught, and surely it is I who is the chosen one’.
So where did Korach go wrong? If indeed he had potential to produce such illustrious progeny, why wasn’t that merit enough to be saved?
Explains the Be’er Yosef: Indeed Korach was in a position of influence and was destined to produce this tremendous line. However, he faced a choice: would it be because of him, or in spite of him?
The truth was that this great line of descendants was inspired, not because of him, but directly as a result of the miraculous punishment that he received. Rebelling against Moshe and receiving such a punishment established the veracity of Moshe for all time. This is what actually inspired his children to reach such heights.
Korach could have served as a Levi, creating such an inspiration to deserve to have a Shmuel. Or he could choose to rebel, and have the same impact, not because of what he did, but in spite of it.
We all face this choice throughout life. When positive things happen, let us choose to be part of them, so they happen because of us -- not, Heaven forbid, in spite of us.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!