Korach: Way Too Smart for That?
By Harav Yonah Burr
ויקח קרח And Korach took
What exactly did Korach ‘take’?
The Medrash tells us that Korach took a Tallis colored completely with the blue Techeles. He challenged Moshe, "Does a blue garment require the Tzitzis to be dyed blue?" He took a house full of Seforim. He asked, "Does a house full of Seforim require a Mezuza?" When Moshe Rabbeinu answered in the affirmative, Korach scoffed and rebelled.
What irked Korach about these two specific Mitzvos? It would have been one thing if Korach had challenged Moshe on a Mitzvah for which we don't know the reason. But Techeles? Mezuzah? The Torah writes the reasons for these Mitzvos outright: "so that we should remember to do all the Mitzvos of Hashem." The Gemara elaborates on how the blue string resembles the sea, which resembles the sky, which resembles the glorious throne of Hashem! Why didn't Korach look for something more inexplicable, such as one of the Chukim, with which to cast his infamous tirade?
Rav Avrohom Yallin zt”l author of the beautiful sefer ‘Erech Apayam’ explains; Korach was in fact a very learned person, well versed in Torah and Kaballah. He even was able to look into the future and see the illustrious chain of descendants destined to follow him. Where did he go wrong?
Our Sages meant to show us through highlighting some of Korach’s ‘questions’ what his mistake was. Korach felt, that someone as great as he does not require the constant ‘reminders’ of Hashem’s presence and our obligation to perform the mitzvos. Why, if I am so great and so steeped in Torah learning and mitzvos, won’t I become perfected automatically? Do I really need to be reminded to serve Hashem if that is what I am constantly doing anyway?
However the Torah tells us otherwise; we sometimes see the forest but miss the trees; we see the big picture but miss the details. We all need to be constantly reminded to focus on the day to day, to serve Hashem and keep renewing our commitment.
The Erech Apayam extends this message to all of us on our level; it is not enough that we serve Hashem anyway. We all go to shul to daven, we all set aside fixed times for learning and do the required mitzvos. However, we need to focus on our own individual weaknesses and strengths, our middos, and enthusiasm for Yiddishkeit. Only through the constant reminders and contemplation will we become who we are supposed to be!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!