Who Is the Rebellion Against? – 5782 Korach Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.


It’s time to explore Torah Portion 38 Korach, aliyah by aliyah.

Numbers 16:1-18:32

Aliyah 1: Numbers 16:1-13

Numbers 16:1 Now Korach the son of Yitz’har, the son of K’hat, the son of Levi, along with Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli’av, and On, the son of Pelet, descendants of Re’uven, took men and

NUM 16:1

Korach was a cousin to Moshe and Aharon. Who were Datan and Aviram?

Numbers 16:2 rebelled against Moshe. Siding with them were 250 men of Isra’el, leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation.

NUM 16:2

Does that bring the total of rebels to 253? Does “key members of the council” include some of the 70 men who were made special elders?

Numbers 16:3 They assembled themselves against Moshe and Aharon and said to them, “You take too much on yourselves! After all, the entire community is holy, every one of them, and HaShem is among them. So why do you lift yourselves up above HaShem’s assembly?”

NUM 16:3

HaShem lifted up these men, not Moshe.

Numbers 16:4 When Moshe heard this he fell on his face.

NUM 16:4

Literally? Does this mean he started praying? Is this a sign of humility?

Numbers 16:5 Then he said to Korach and his whole group, “In the morning, HaShem will show who are his and who is the holy person he will allow to approach him. Yes, he will bring whomever he chooses near to himself.

NUM 16:5

It is interesting to me that while these rebels say that all the people are holy, It seems clear to Moshe that they are only really talking about themselves.

Numbers 16:6 Do this: take censers, Korach and all your group;

NUM 16:6

Did they have to make their own censers? Where did they get them?

Numbers 16:7 put fire in them; and put incense in them before HaShem tomorrow. The one whom HaShem chooses will be the one who is holy! It is you, you sons of Levi, who are taking too much on yourselves!

NUM 16:7

Is this a trap? Nadav and Avihu died for bringing strange fire. Is Moshe telling these men to do the same? Shouldn’t the outcome be the same? Is Aharon sharing incense with these men for the test?

Numbers 16:9 Is it for you a mere trifle that the G-d of Isra’el has separated you from the community of Isra’el to bring you close to himself, so that you can do the work in the tabernacle of HaShem and stand before the community serving them?

NUM 16:9

Valid question. Are most of the 250 Levites? It seems that way.

Numbers 16:10 He has brought you close and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you. Now you want the office of cohen too!

NUM 16:10

How does Moshe know that this is the core of their complaint?

Numbers 16:11 That’s why you and your group have gathered together against HaShem! After all, what is Aharon that you complain against him?

NUM 16:11

According to the Torah in NUM 16:2, the rebellion is against Moshe. According to Moshe in NUM 16:11, the rebellion is against Aharon by proxy, but ultimately against HaShem. Which is it? Who was the rebellion really against? Is this a contradiction?

Numbers 16:12 Then Moshe sent to summon Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli’av. But they replied, “We won’t come up!

NUM 16:12

Were Datan and Aviram not with Korach? Did they wind them up and set them off toward Moshe?

Numbers 16:3 Is it such a mere trifle, bringing us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that now you arrogate to yourself the role of dictator over us?

NUM 16:13

It is a bold statement to call Egypt, the land of Hebrew enslavement, “a land flowing with milk and honey” when that is a key descriptor for Israel, where HaShem is taking the people.

Are Datan and Aviram suggesting that Moshe himself took Israel out of Egypt with his own power or strength, are they denying HaShem?

Aliyah 2: Numbers 16:14-19

Numbers 16:15 Moshe was very angry and said to HaShem, “Don’t accept their grain offering! I haven’t taken one donkey from them, I’ve done nothing wrong to any of them.

NUM 16:15

Is it customary for kings of the age to extract animals and wealth from their subjects?

Aliyah 3: Numbers 16:20-17:8

Numbers 16:26 There he said to the assembly, “Leave the tents of these wicked men! Don’t touch anything that belongs to them, or you may be swept away in all their sins.

NUM 16:26

HaShem only told Moshe to have the people move. Why did he tell them differently, to not even touch their belongings? Did Moshe add to the Torah?

Aliyah 4: Numbers 17:9-15

Numbers 17:11 Moshe said to Aharon, “Take your fire pan, put fire from the altar in it, lay incense on it, and hurry with it to the assembly to make atonement for them, because anger has gone out from HaShem, and the plague has already begun!”

NUM 17:11

Did Moshe and Aharon rebel against HaShem by making atonement for thm

Aliyah 5: Numbers 17:16-24

Numbers 17:20 The staff of the man I am going to choose will sprout buds — in this way I will put a stop to the complaints the people of Isra’el keep making against you.

NUM 17:20

In the name of Bob Gorelik of Eshav books, I point out that the miracle of the blossoming stick quelled Israel’s fears and doubts because they saw that HaShem would heal and protect the people and make them flourish like he did the otherwise dead branch.

Aliyah 6: Numbers 17:25-18:20

Numbers 18:15 Everything that comes first out of the womb, of all living things which they offer to HaShem, whether human or animal, will be yours. However, the firstborn of a human being you must redeem, and the firstborn of an unclean beast you are to redeem.

NUM 18:15

Does this imply that some people are to be “offered to HaShem?” I checked different versions, even Chabad’s Judaica Press translation. The sentence structure implies that humans are valid offerings to HaShem, but then demands that they be redeemed with silver to escape being offered on the altar.

Aliyah 7: Numbers 18:21-32

Numbers 18:29 From everything given to you, you are to set aside all that is due HaShem, the best part of it, its holy portion.

NUM 18:29

I love that the people are to give to the Levites, the Levites are to give to the Cohenim and the Cohenim are to give to HaShem. It makes a beautiful demonstration of how everything is His and he deserves all the gratitude and honor for blessing us.


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

  1. Who are Dathan and Abiram?
  2. Did the 70 Elders rebel?
  3. Who is the rebellion really against?

That concludes my journey through Korach for the year 5782.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Published by MJ Muñoz

Husband. Father. Believer. Writer.

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