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Thursday, June 19

The Weekly Shtikle - Korach

    There are some obvious connections between the parsha and the haftarah we read from (beginning at Shmuel I 11:14). As indicated in Divrei HaYamim, Shmuel was a direct descendant of Korach. Rashi at the beginning of the parsha points out that it was a vision that Korach had, that he would have offspring equal in stature to Moshe and Aharon, that fueled his rebellion. Additionally, we find Shmuel delivering an address to the people in which he must make the following defensive assertion (12:3) " Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed?" This very closely parallels part of Moshe's prayer to HaShem in the midst of the Korach crisis, (15:15) "I have not taken one donkey from them, neither have I hurt one of them."
 
    I believe there is something deeper in these correlations, an actual connection between them. Perhaps it may be suggested that the trials and tribulations that Shmuel endured during his reign as leader of the Jewish Nation were in some way a retribution or atonement for the similar treatment which his ancestor Korach put Moshe Rabbeinu through. A few points to ponder along this line of thought: As explained in "Ma SheHayah hu Sheyihyeh" on haftaros, by R' Elie Wolf, Korach's claim was that the entire nation were on an equal level of holiness and thus, did not require a supreme leader. To counter this, as we read in our haftarah, Shmuel is tasked with anointing the very first king in our history.
    
    Another component of Korach's campaign was the opposition to the appointing of Aharon as the Kohein Gadol, although it is not clear that he necessarily opposed the concept of a Kohein Gadol itself. It is therefore fitting that Shmuel was raised under the tutelage of Eli, the Kohein Gadol and judge at the time.
 
    Although Korach's misguided revolution had quite a significant following, we are told later on (26:11) that his own children saw the errors of his ways and repented and were thus saved from meeting the same demise as their father. It is therefore quite interesting to note Shmuel HaNavi having the very opposite experience. Despite Shmuel's righteousness, we are told (Shmuel I 8:3) that his sons did not follow in his ways and when they were appointed to high judiciary positions were involved in bribery and perversion of justice. It was this unfortunate reality that led to the nation's request to abolish the system of judges as national leaders and to institute the monarchy as Shmuel did in our haftarah.
 
Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

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