Parsha Lights – Korach
When reading the account of Korach as it appears in the Torah, however, his argument strikes a chord with all of us. Korach is the defender of equality and the champion of democracy. Korach stands up for the rights of the people, asserting that “all the congregation, they are all holy and God is in their midst.” (Numbers 16:3) Korach finds Moses to be running a dictatorship, and a corrupt one at that, keeping power in the family. If anything, Korach was against division, against having separate classes and levels of people. Everyone is capable, all have merit!
This view, however, hardly does justice to equality. Peace is not a result of sameness, of every person having similar talents, temperaments and merits. True peace is the harmony of different personalities and types working together. The weaknesses of one are complemented by the strengths of the other. The nature of one person is different from the nature of the other and society is best served when all persons work toward the same goal in their respective roles.
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig notes that the basis of argumentation is the refusal to recognize that we have different roles based on our unique characteristics. This was also the error of certain revolutions of equality in the last century, mistaking sameness for equality. Rashi notes that in the Egyptian plague of hail fire and water united in order to bring about that plague. Working side by side toward a common goal, even opposites can accommodate one another and achieve peace and harmony.
Korach coveted the role of Aaron. He wanted to be the high priest and he felt he was a better candidate and more deserving of it. This desire drove him to instigate the rebellion against Moses, using flattery and reasoning which would appeal to the masses. He misled the nation in his efforts to win their support. He was no champion of democracy. He did not wish to give everyone an equal chance. He was seeking only self advancement.