Parsha_Push Korach - Matan - The Sadie Rennert
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Parsha_Push Korach

Rabbanit Dr. Adina Sternberg

On the surface, the story of Korach and his assembly teaches that one must not challenge the authority of Moshe and Aaron. Those who challenged Aaron’s priesthood were burned by fire, and those who challenged Moshe’s leadership were swallowed by the earth. One could say this represents dictatorship at its finest.

However, things are much more complex than that, and not just because challenging Moshe and Aaron is challenging God’s choice.

Things are more complex because together with punishing the challengers and proving them wrong, the leadership of Moshe and Aaron is indeed put to the test. They need to prove themselves. Part of proving Moshe’s leadership is related to the fact that he did not benefit at the expense of the public and did everything for the sake of heaven.

But the choice of Aaron, which is perhaps less self-evident (because of the family connection to Moshe, and because of his role in the sin of the Golden Calf), is indeed put to the test. Both in the test of the staffs, and especially in examining Aaron’s function during the plague that struck the public. The test of the staffs showed that God indeed chose the tribe of Levi and Aaron to stand before Him and serve Him, and the way Aaron functioned during the plague, sacrificing himself and offering incense to protect the people, proved that he was indeed worthy of serving the people.

Thus, the choice of Moshe and Aaron is proven by the method of ‘carrot and stick’. The loud challengers are punished – each according to their sin. But the people need to be convinced by the ‘carrot’, which in this case was ironically Aaron’s staff. Aaron proved himself specifically by stopping the plague and bringing life and flourishing to the world.

Being chosen by God is a good starting point to lead the people, but the leaders need to prove their dedication and achievements in order to be accepted in their roles.

Rabbanit Dr. Adina Sternberg

Rabbanit Dr. Adina Sternberg

was in the first cohort of the Matan Kitvuni Fellowship program and her book is in the publication process. She has a B.A. in Bible from Hebrew University and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Talmud from Bar Ilan University. Adina studied in Midreshet Lindenbaum, Migdal Oz, Havruta and the Advanced Talmud Institute in Matan. She currently teaches Bible and Talmud at Matan, and at Efrata and Orot colleges. Adina lives in Adam (Geva Binyamin) with her family.