In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.
Yehuda Bachana: Holiness through identity or fruitfulness? – Korach 
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.
The last three Torah portions describe rebellions against authority, starting with Aaron and Miriam who spoke badly of Moses. The following week we read about the rebellion of the spies, after which the people rebelled, too. This week we read and study about the rebellion of Korach and his followers. It is written that Korach’s company included 250 people; however, in reality, the rebellion of the opposition was much greater, and included a significant part of Israel.
Even if we disagree with Korach, there's some logic to his rebellion. Let’s think about this together for a second. The people find themselves in a difficult situation. They cannot move forward to the Promised Land. Last week's Torah portion showed that those who tried to enter the land by force, failed to succeed and died in the process (Numbers 14:44).
So, what’s left for Israel to do? A slow death awaits in the wilderness, as they can only continue after the last ones of the wilderness generation have died. Yet, another rebellion arises and develops as the result of the people’s despair and hopelessness, shaking the rest of the nation.
Korach didn’t say: “Rebellion! Revolution!” What he actually said was: “Corrupted, go home!”
Korach's claim is that Moses and Aaron appointed themselves to the position of power. He argued that they benefit from their position and look down at the People of God. However, concerning the People of God, Korach claims that everybody is holy and everybody is equal. This is some kind of an early version of the famous saying by Paul from the letter to Galatians:
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
This verse means that everyone is equal in the eyes of God, everyone's value is equal and everyone is created in the image of God. It is clear that this verse does not cancel any physical nor practical differences between men and women, or between workers and employees.
This verse simply states that we all stand before God in an equal manner. It does not matter to God if we are rich or poor, because we do not take our property nor our status when we ascend to the afterlife. Rather, then, every soul will stand before God in an exposed manner:
“Know from where you came, where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give a judgement and accounting — before the supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.” (Ethics of the fathers 3:1)
We will stand before God, purified by the sacrifice of Messiah. Israel as well as the nations were not left without redemption. Yeshua paid the full price for us all, and the verse from Galathians exactly points out our equality in Yeshua.
However, Korach is a wise enemy, and attacks using half-thruths or even mostly-truths. He argues that we are all holy and that God dwells among us and in our midst. There is no male or female in the eyes of God, there is no master nor slave. So, why are you our leader, Moses? You have failed. Now go home!
Here we see the complete opposite between the phrases 'We are all holy' and
“Do all My commandments, and be holy for your God” (Numbers 15:40)
Korach says that everyone is holy, and as such, our status before God, as a holy nation, is secure. Korach says that we have already reached our goal of coming to faith. That from now on, we can do anything we want, everything is allowed, we are free from responsibility and from petty commandments. Such attitude leads to arrogance, pride and overconfidence: "I am from Israel, so my status and holiness are secure."
John the Baptist opposes this idea, and warns the crowds that come to be baptized by him in the Jordan river:
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:8-9)
John tells those that come to repent that it is not their identity, nor the fact that they belong to the nation of Israel, being sons of Abraham. Truly, the tree symbolizes man who must produce good fruit. John warns that the axe lies at the root of the tree. In other words, John the Baptist says that the view that claims that everyone is holy, actually is in rebellion with God and the Scriptures, allowing us to do what is right in our own eyes.
A different, and actually a contradictory approach, is 'keep all my commandments' (Numbers 15:40). The additional part of this verse, 'to be holy', is the direct result of the act of keeping the commandments. This idea is presented in a verse at the end of the previous Torah portion and leads directly to the story of Korach, and his distorted and incorrect claim that everyone is holy, just because of their identity or affiliation. No, quite the opposite is true, Mr. Korach. We need to read the previous verse, 'keep all my commandments', if we wish to be credited with holiness.
As mentioned earlier, we touched upon how Korach’s approach diminishes the importance of the actual keeping of the commandments. It also underestimates the value of seemingly unimportant commandments. A similar approach is expressed in an interesting midrash, which reduces the importance of the commandments, and portrays them in a ridiculous and negative way:
“There was once a widow in my neighborhood with two orphaned daughters and she had one field. When she came to plow, Moses said to her (Deuteronomy 22:10), 'You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.' When she came to sow, Moses said to her (Leviticus 19:19), 'Your field shall not be sown with two different kinds of seed.' When she came to reap and make a pile [of sheaves], Moses said to her (Deuteronomy 24:19), 'You shall leave [some stalks] for the poor and the stranger.' When she came to make a threshing floor, he said to her, 'You shall give tithes [of your crop] and [separate] terumah, tithes, first tithe, and second tithe.' The righteous woman accepted [the ruling] and complied. What did she do? She sold the field and bought two lambs to clothe herself with their fleece and to enjoy their fruits. When Aaron's firstborn son was born, he came to her and said, 'Give me the firstborns, as the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to me (Deuteronomy 15:19), "Every firstborn that is born in your cattle and your flock, the male [belongs to] Him."' The righteous woman accepted [the ruling] and complied. When it came time to shear them, he said to her, 'Give me the foreleg, cheeks, and stomach.' She said to him, 'Even though I slaughtered them, I did not escape from your hand. Behold, I am under a ban.' He said to her, 'Give [them to me], as the verse states (Numbers 18:14), "Every ban among the people of Israel shall be yours."' He took [the portions] and went on his way. She left weeping, as did her two daughters.” (Midrash Tehillim, 1)
It is clear that the above text is a Midrash, a story, and not a real event. I think that this story faithfully portrays demagogy that politicians use to attack each other in order to influence the public opinion. Sadly, every generation witnesses cheap emotional manipulation from politicians.
The sad thing is that, at the end, demagogy does work. We see that the opposition is not limited to Korach and his company of 250 leaders and key figures. Many others joined in, too. It probably started with Korach and just a few followers. Then they began spreading disinformation and succeeded. We read that a large group of people follows. And so, the opposition to Moses became strong and loud.
Tragically, Korach, his followers and a very large number of Israelites are convinced that they are right. This is the reason why they agree to the test of the incense burners, which goal was to determine which side was right.
It is hard to know if they truly realized that this test would be a matter of life and death. Everyone came forward and stood beside Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the Sanctuary. They stood before God, ready to be the tested, while holding the incense burners. This makes it seem Korach’s assembly did believe justice – and God - were at their side; all the while, presuming Moses and Aaron take advantage of the people while ruling harshly.
In addition to Korach, there are two brothers - Datan and Aviram - from the tribe of Reuven. Who are they, and why do they mix in with the argument between Korach and Moses? Moses tries to understand them and invites them in, hoping they might come to an understanding. Yet, the reaction of Datan and Aviram is harsh and disturbing:
“We will not come! Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves? No, we will not come!” (Numbers 16:12-14)
Moses is very angry and hurt. Remember how the story in the Midrash pictures Korach’s description of the leadership as oppressive. However, unlike Korach’s stories, and unlike the thoughts and suspicions of some in the community, Moses and Aaron did not act out of greed, nor the desire to dominate. On the contrary, both Moses and Aaron paid a high personal price for the sake of the people.
Before continuing on the topic of this great personal sacrifice, it is good to remind ourselves of the death of Nadav and Avihu, the two sons of Aaron who were killed while serving in the sanctuary. Moses now turns to God in anger and pain:
“Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.” (Numbers 16:15)
Moses, who truly dedicated his life to the People of Israel, fails to understand how reality could be so grossly distorted.
In this week’s Haftara, from the second half of chapter 11 and chapter 12 of 1st Samuel, the prophet speaks similar words to those of Moses. This is most likely the reason why this specific Haftara was chosen. Samuel proclaims that his hands are clean. He did not oppress the people and did not take a donkey nor an ox. Note, that Samuel’s words are, almost exactly, taken from the speech of Moses. These leaders are facing challenges both from within as well as external ones.
We are certain that it is fun to be a leader and be the one in charge. We forget the part called responsibility. Leaders shoulder the burden of heavy responsibility. This responsibility takes away their sleep. Leaders and commanders usually work longer hours and often take their work home. However, that does not make their subordinates less bitter.
Here I want to remember Yeshua the Messiah. When Yeshua came back to His hometown, Nazareth, we read how He went to a synagogue ‘according to His custom’. Yeshua also taught there. As a Messianic Jew, as a believer, I think: “I wish I had the privilege to hear Yeshua the Messiah talking, having been present there, during His sermon.” But what did the people of the town think? They wanted to push him to His death from the mountain cliff. It was there, that Yeshua said:
“Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24)
The Messiah, Who came to save the world and to only do good, to sacrifice His life for the sake of others: He was the One they falsely accused and wanted to hurt to such an extent, that it stopped Yeshua from going up to Jerusalem:
“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him” (John 7:1)
As we can see, leadership is a task that is mostly being taken for granted.
Continuing our Torah Portion in Numbers 16:20-22, God asks Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from the congregation of Israel, as He plans to destroy them. What do Moses and Aaron do? They fall on their face and pray in order to mediate for the people.
The leadership of Moses and Aaron is one of self-sacrifice. I would like to read a verse from our Torah portion that is definitely underappreciated. We truly cannot grasp the level of sacrifice hidden in this verse. Numbers 16:46-48:
“Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.”
We often read this verse without paying attention. We read it as a side note, and then move on. But, who would rush into a burning fire? Who runs towards danger without thinking twice? Aaron does, the priest who lost two of his sons (we just mentioned Nadav and Avihu), who died in the sanctuary from the fire of God, as a punishment from Above. What does Aaron do? He rushes towards the punishment. I am certain, that Aaron did not think himself to be extra-resistant nor immune. A man who lost as much as Aaron did does not think he is untouchable.
Aaron takes a great risk. However, as a leader, he cannot run away from the fire, the fear, the plague nor from the angel of death. That very Aaron, whose two sons died as a punishment of God, rushes towards the center of the plague, towards the center of God’s punishment. Aaron stands between the dead and the living, and by doing so, Aaron stops the plague with his own hands. God, Who examines the heart, finds Aaron worthy.
Here we see the essence of Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership. They did not come to oppress the people; on the contrary, they put people before themselves. They love the people, and even when they have sinned, Moses and Aaron are willing to endanger themselves for the sake of the people.
I want to conclude with a story from the Talmud called ‘the dilemma of the water jug’:
“Two people were walking along a deserted path. One had a jug of water. If both of them drink, they will both die. If one drinks, he will reach an inhabited place [and survive].”
Ben Ptora said: “It is best if both drink and both die, so that one will not see the death of his friend. But then Rabbi Akiva taught:
“That your brother may live with you” (Leviticus 25:36)
Rabbi Akiva explained that your life comes before your friend’s life.” Many commentaries discuss this story, including the different interpretations of Ben Ptora and Rabbi Akiva.
There is a third alternative that was not discussed here. Possibly, the man with the jug might give, or might be asked to give, the entire jug to his friend, and therefore die himself. The third interpretation, the idea of self-sacrifice, is taught by Paul:
“I speak the truth in Messiah - I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit - I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” (Romans 9:1-4)
Heaven forbid, we read this verse as something obvious. I see how Aaron has a similar attitude of self-sacrifice as he rushes into the storm, and physically stops the plague with great courage.
We see the ultimate act of sacrifice in Yeshua the Messiah, Who sacrificed Himself for us:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Joseph Shulam: The Price of Rebellion 
It seems that I often get to teach the Torah Portion that speaks of Korah and his rebellion and how it challenges the authority of Moses and Aaron.
The Torah reading, the Korah portion of the Torah, is from Numbers 16:1- 18:32. From the Prophets we will be reading together with all the Jews in the world from 1 Samuel 11:14 – 12:22. From the New Testament we will be reading from Timothy 2:14-3:9.
As I have often said that every time that I read the Word of God there are always new things that pop up in my reading that I didn’t notice before. The word of God is not like any other book. The Bible has the reputation, in some circles, that it is a sweet book speaking to old women in knitting circle.
Once I start reading, it seems like my brain becomes empty and in receiving mode, and open to see and learn new things that God has for me. This Torah portion that is being read this next Shabbat, the story of Korah, is a Torah portion that always falls on me to teach me of how this world works.
In fact, here is snapshot of what is happening in world politics right now. First let us remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.”(Romans 13:1–3 NKJV).
Paul’s attitude and understanding in this case is 100% the same as several Rabbinical personalities, but I don’t really want to make this a PhD dissertation.
If the Apostle Paul is right, and I believe that he is right and writing what he received from God, then rebellion against the government that God appointed, by due process, is in fact rebellion against God’s elected ruler.
Here is what Korah and his gang said to Moses and Aaron!
“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?”” (Numbers 16:1–3 NKJV)
1.Korah was a priest from the tribe of Levi. He had the privilege and blessing to serve in the Tabernacle of God in the wilderness of Sinai. The people that joined him in this rebellion were from the tribe of Reuben. They were from a very honorable tribe, Reuben the son of Jacob. They were not from the edges of society, they were from the crème del crème of Israeli society.
2.What was the claim of Korah and his followers?
a.“You take too much authority upon yourselves!” This sounds like a concern for the leaders God has chosen. It sounds like, you work too hard, too much! But in reality, they said: “We are all just as good as you are, and just as capable to lead this nation.”
b.God is with all of us. We are just as good as you, Moses and Aaron!
c.“Why do you exalt yourselves,” dear Moses and Aaron.“The whole congregation is holy, just as good as you
two brothers are, and we can do as good as you can.”
3.The claims of Korah and his gang sounds very modern. It is a false claim of false democracy. A claim that says, God doesn’t choose the leaders. Moses and Aaron, we the people, are just as good as you and we deserve to be in the leadership of Israel just as much as you!
The motives that pop up from Korah and his gang seem to be motivated by envy, hunger for power, and lack of respect for God’s choice of leadership.
Moses and Aaron were not motivated by pride and hunger for power over the people. They were actually chosen by God through a painful process and years of going through the school of hardships.
The 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai that Moses had to endure after he was raised as a prince of Egypt, having all the best of the best the world could offer a person, living the palace of Pharaoh, and now a shepherd of a pagan priest, Jethro the priest of Median. It was a long boot-camp, preparing him for this task of delivering the children of Israel out of Egyptian slavery.
4.When Korah and his gang approached Moses with these claims and expressed the desire to be “in the government”, and have the privilege to rule the people of God and power in their hands, they were not rebelling only against Moses and Aaron, they were rebelling against the choice of leadership that God had for Israel. The claim “We are just as good as you two brothers are! Therefore, we deserve to be in the government just as much as you deserve it, is a claim that is clearly motivated by a power-hungry group of men who have ganged against God’s anointed ones.
Moses’ reaction to Koran’s challenges was simple! Let God chose who is the true leader. Let us leave the matter in God’s hands. He will resolve this political feud between us. Moses was announced by God himself as the Torah said:
“Now Moses himself was very humble, more so than any other human being on earth.” (Numbers 12:3 JPS)
So, Moses trusting in God to do battle for him, didn’t take the law into his own hands. Moses’ reaction to Korah and his gang was simple: “So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying,
“Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him.” (Numbers 16:4–5 NKJV)
Of course, we all know the outcome of this rebellion of Korah and his gang in the wilderness of Sinai. This was not the only time that Moses and his authority was challenged. We see that his own brothers, Aaron and Miriam, come with very similar claims against Moses their brother and in fact they say similar things to Korah and his gang: Already in Numbers 12:1-3, Moses’s own older brother Aaron, and sister Miriam, already claimed the same claim that Korah and his gang repeated:
“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)”. (Numbers 12:1–3 NKJV)
There is a clear teaching in the word of God not to touch God’s anointed and this principle has worked throughout the history of God’s relationship with Israel and with the world.
“Do not touch My anointed ones; do not harm My prophets.” (Psalm 105:15 JPS)
What is very interesting to me is that the claim of Korah and his gang against Moses was the very same claim of Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ own older brother and sister.
World politics these days has some of the same characteristics as the Torah reveals to us in this week’s Torah portion. Politicians, in place of taking care of God’s sheep, think only of what is their desire and how much they deserve, and not what is truly good for the people, or for the nation.
Challenges against the ruling powers is nothing new nor is it only against Moses only. King David was challenged and his crown was challenged by his own family and children. Abshalom, David’s beloved son, had the very same claims as did Aaron and Miriam, and later on Korah and his gang.
The sad truth is that the fate of all those who have rebelled against God’s anointed one, had to face God’s own medicine; a very harsh and final medicine, death for Korah and his gang, and leprosy for Miriam. The good news is that the gates of repentance were opened for Miriam and Aaron, but not opened for Korah and his 250 men of renowned that joined him to challenge God’s anointed choice for a leader, Moses the son of Amram.
What are we to learn from this today? Today, leadership is chosen by election; supposedly democratic elections with fair play from all the sides. And so the majority of the people of the world prefer a democratic government, chosen to serve the people.
A government of the people, by the people, for the good of all the people of the country, often result in a not so democratic government, that once elected, often turn on the people and start to use their power to satisfaction of self.
We are back to square one! An old gospel song expresses the good reality with these words:
1.My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
Refrain: On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand:
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
2.When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]
3.His oath, his covenant, his blood,
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]
4.When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found:
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]
The political situation in Israel and in the so called “Democratic West” is not very good these days and we are all challenged. Israel’s democracy is challenged and I pray for God’s hand to again show who is ultimately responsible, and who is the one who ultimately runs this world from His throne, from heaven!
I realize that there will always be people who don’t believe in the divine. In the one and only God who is the creator and master of this world, dressed in His crown and the gown of His grace!
Joseph Shulam: We Don't Have to Win, We Have to be Faithful 
This week’s portion of the Torah reading is called Korah. Who was this man Korah?
For me personally this Torah portion is an enigma. No matter how and no matter when and no matter where in the world I am when this Torah portion is being read, I get to teach it and preach it.
I chose to share with you this issue of “who was Korah?” Because of an old polemic argument that is often used by the anti-gospel, anti-Jewish-disciples-of-Yeshua rabbis that attack the two genealogies of Yeshua. The one from Matthew chapter 1 and the one from Luke.
When we examine the Bible carefully we see that genealogies in general have problems. Most often the genealogies are used for political purposes, and not as historical certification.
The issue of Korah is a good example of this phenomenon. Here are the different genealogies of Korah in the Word of God:
Exodus 6:18 presents the shortest genealogy:
Kohath , Izhar , Korah, Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph
“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men…” — Numbers 16:1
In 1 Chronicles 6:22-24:
Kohath, Amminadab, Korah, Assir, Elkanah, Ebiasaph, Assir, Tahath, Uriel, Uzziah, Shaul…
In 1 Chronicles 6:31:
Kohath, Izhar, Korah, Ebiasaph, Assir, Tahath, Zephaniah, Azariah, Joel, Elkanah, Amasai, Mahath, Elkanah, Zuph, Toah, Eliel, Jeroham, Elkanah, Samuel, Joel, Heman the Singer…
This I share with you in order to give you information to answer those who seek to destroy and defame our faith in God, and in Yeshua as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!
The battle for truth is not a battle that will be fully victorious until that great day that the saints will be gathered, dressed in white, in front of the great throne of the Lord. And Yeshua will be seated in judgment, and we will be singing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb of God.
On that great day and great occasion, all false teachers and defamers of God’s chosen ones will fall, begging for mercy and asking forgiveness. But it will be too late. The gracious Judge will say, “You goats have no room with God’s lambs, go down and join the Pharaohs of Egypt and Haman the Persian, and Antiochus the Greek… Go for eternity with those who did evil, and abused humanity for their own gain…”
The reading of this shabbat is from the portion called Korah, Numbers 16:1-18:32, from the prophets we will be reading from 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22, and from the New Testament we will be reading Romans 13:1-7. My suggestion is always for every one of us to read from the Torah, from the prophets, and from the New Testament.
I remember an old friend who led a congregation outside of Chicago in the early 1980’s — Dr. James Tabor. He had his congregation reading from the Torah, the prophets, the New Testament, and from the Mishnah.
We are not going that far, but we are staying within the same tradition as Yeshua and the apostles did. And we add a complementary reading from the teachings of the apostles, the New Testament.
The Korahite rebellion that we read about in our Torah portion is a union of the leadership of two major tribes in Israel. The tribe of Levi, that is the tribe of Aaron and Moses, and the tribe of Reuben, who was the firstborn of Jacob and Leah.
People of two tribes that have a claim of elite status. Levi being the tribes of the priests, and Reuben being the firstborn of Jacob’s children.
Let us examine the Korahite rebellion and it’s motives and claims. The reason I think that this is an important text for us is because we are witnessing today in our time the same claims with the same motives that Korah and his band of rebels claimed. Yes, these claims seem just and reasonable today as they did in the days of Moses in the wilderness of Sinai.
“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” — Numbers 16:1-3 [NKJV]
Let us notice first that the people who joined Korah are people who already had problems with Moses, and people who were seeking notoriety and honor even in Egypt by speaking against Moses and Aaron, Dothan, and Abiram. Second, notice that all those who wanted to take a share of the leadership and demote Moses were representatives of the congregation (“Knesset members”) and men of renown. These men of renown were the powerful, rich, and popular, whom we would call today the VIPs of the camp of Israel.
The hard-working, dedicated, humble, and faithful regular Joe’s, Naftali’s, and Samuel’s didn’t rebel against Moses. They were busy living and working and taking care of their families, and helping those who needed help. Quietly volunteering in the camp of Israel, and not seeking recognition. Because they were looking for their true reward for their good works from God and not from men.
The next thing to notice is the claims of these rebels against Moses:
- “…you take too much upon yourselves!”
- “We are all holy and equally capable of leading just as well as you can lead…” (and the implication of this statement is that: “You Moses do not share with us the power and the leadership. You want to do it all alone yourself!”)
- “Moses you are in leadership so long. Maybe you should let us lead now and just step down! Stop exalting yourself over the congregation.”
I think that in the last three years we are all familiar with some claims of leadership that have at least similarity with this Torah portion. Now let us learn from the reaction of Moses to these claims of Korah and his band of rebels:
“So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, ‘Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company; put fire in them and put incense in them before the Lord tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the Lord chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!’ Then Moses said to Korah, ‘Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?’” — Numbers 16:4-10 [NKJV]
The first thing that Moses does is fall on his face. The falling of one’s face is a submission to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is an act of submission as a slave before his Lord, willing to accept the master’s verdict on all things.
(In the whole Bible there is no example of people falling on their back side as an act of God or the Holy Spirit. This false and fake action is pure pagan, strange, and man-made by false prophets and fake apostles. I say this as someone who has been pushed by some of the most famous, honored, and rich fakes in the Christian TV circuses.)
The second thing that Moses does is take action to defend himself. Moses allowed and let the Lord prove who He, the Almighty, has chosen to lead Israel from the wilderness of Sinai to the land of Canaan that was promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel as an everlasting inheritance.
This is a very important point. We don’t have to use the same tools to defend ourselves against our enemies that the enemy uses.
We have to have full confidence as servants of God and His people that He, the Creator of all our world, knows what to do and how to defend His servants. Our recurring mistake is that we feel that we have to respond, and usually our response is with the same weak and bad tools that our enemies use.
We must learn from Moses in this case to allow God to take care of our enemies in His most gracious and powerful way. We must just always remind ourselves that God knows best and God knows what is best for His children and His servants.
We don’t need instant gratification and satisfaction for our pain and suffering in persecution. We need real, long-term, and final gratification and satisfaction to see our enemies put to shame by God in the most important hours of their lives!
It has happened in my life more than once. And I pray for myself that God would always give me the wisdom and the patience and the stamina that I need not to be Gary Cooper in “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral”. (I confess that I don’t always succeed to hold my tongue and not to respond with more virtue than my enemies!)
The third thing that we learn from Moses and from God’s response to the rebellious seed of Levi, in this case, is that God’s judgment is much more effective and even educative than anything that Moses or we as humans can do to stop the evil hands of the enemy from doing evil and demanding to destroy and damage the Kingdom of God and defame the Son of God and His Kingdom.
When God defends us and our place and mission in His Kingdom – His defense is usually final. In every case, before God acts against our enemies, He gives them a chance to wise up, repent, change, ask forgiveness, and turn back from their evil ways.
This is true in every case. Even in this case of Korah and his rebellious gang of 250 leaders in Israel, who by claiming “democracy and equality” aimed to destroy the anointed one of God — Moses!
“Then Moses was very angry, and said to the Lord, ‘Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.’” — Numbers 16:15 [NKJV]
Here is how Moses and God gave Korah and his gang a chance to repent. This is important for us to learn from these words of God.
First, Moses, guided by God Himself, says to Korah and his gang:
“And Moses said to Korah, ‘Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the Lord—you and they, as well as Aaron. Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the Lord, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer.’ So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation.” — Numbers 16:16-19 [NKJV]
Second, the following:
“Moses said to the congregation of Israel and the Levites with Aaron, ‘And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?”’” — Numbers 16:20-22 [NKJV]
The thing to do is stop the fighting and the arguments with your enemies. Separate yourselves from the enemies. Just ignore them and walk away, stop fighting, stop the bitterness.
Walk away! This is divine wisdom! We don’t have to win every battle, but we have to stay faithful to the Lord and stick to His guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We must learn to seek and hear the Word of the Holy Spirit of God, by staying close to God and His Word, and to be open to hear from God through advice and fellowship with other older brothers, who have years of experience walking with God.
Third, stand by and watch the work of God doing what is always just and always best for His children and for the Kingdom.
This is what God did to the rebellious gang of Korah, all 250 leaders and men of renown, and their families!
“Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us up also!’” — Numbers 16:31-34 [NKJV]
Let us stop our own rebellious spirit!
Let us allow the Lord to fight our battles!
Let us fall on our faces before the Lord daily in submission to His will and acceptance of His choices!
(This is especially true after five elections in Israel in three years.)
Let us watch and see the work of the Lord in favor of His faithful children, and also His retribution towards His enemies. Often God has more patience than we do, and His timing is always perfect.
God bless you all and bless your families and your ministries, and the nation of Israel worldwide!
Joseph Shulam: Brad TV Video Teaching – Korach 
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.
Shalom, my name is Joseph Shulam, and in partnership with Brad TV, we are going through all the readings, the portions of the week, that are read in every synagogue around the world on the next Sabbath.
This week’s portion is called Korach. Korach is an infamous character in the Torah, in the Law of Moses, and even later on. In the New Testament, it is hinted of what he did, the rebellion that he did against Moses, and against Aaron, and of course, against God Himself.
So the reading starts from Numbers 16:1 to Numbers 18:32. From the prophets, we are reading 1 Samuel 11:14 to 12:22, and from the New Testament, we’re reading from 1 Timothy 2:14 to 3:9. But I’m going to concentrate on the Torah today, because this portion is less familiar for most Christians, but it’s a very important portion, like all of the words of God, from Genesis to Revelation; but this particular portion is very important for us today, for the church today, for the synagogue today, and has tremendous importance.
I’m going to start reading the last verses from the last portion. The last portion that we read was called Shelach Lecha, send the spies, talking about the 12 spies that Moses sent to spy out the land. But at the end of that portion, in Numbers 15:37, 38, and on to the end of the chapter, we read this:
“Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them, that you may not follow the harlotry to which your hearts and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, to be holy for your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.’”
Now, I believe that this is an introduction to what is about to happen with Korach and his band.
The Holy Spirit is telling Moses, and telling us, that we should be wearing these tassels. He’s not talking to the Gentiles, he’s talking to the Jews, And you’d say, what a strange custom to have a four-cornered garment, and in each corner, to have a tassel, and each tassel will have a blue thread. Very rare, hard to get, blue, in English, they call it purple, whatever they call it, blue thread that comes from a shell that is on the northern shores of Israel, and mainly on the shores of Lebanon, and that shell secretes that color when it is boiled. When it’s not boiled, the color can be crimson, and when it’s boiled, it becomes blue. And why should they wear these strange things?
First of all, the truth is that the nobility in Egypt wore something similar to it. You can see it in the walls of the temples in Karnak, in Luxor, and in Kom Ombo, and in other temples along the Nile River of the ancient Egyptians contemporary with the time of our forefathers in Egypt. So, it was a sign of nobility. But the Torah, the Law of Moses, gives us several reasons which are very important for us to understand. It says that this is for our need to remember the commandments of the Lord and not follow the prostitution, the harlotry of our own heart.
Now, Jeremiah the prophet, in Chapter 17 of Jeremiah, in verse 9, says there is nothing more corrupt, dirtier, than a man’s heart, human heart. Now, I heard in the news a week, two weeks ago, that in the United States, they’re attempting to transplant a human heart with a pig’s heart. I don’t know which one is more dirty or cleaner. But definitely, the Torah says, and Jeremiah the prophet, says that our hearts need circumcision. That circumcision of the heart appears twice in the Law of Moses, and appears in the New Testament, as well, and in the Book of Hebrews.
So, this tassel is for us to remember not to follow our hearts, the harlotry of our hearts, and not to be inclined to fall into the temptation of our eyes. We need something, a reminder. That’s why we wear wedding rings, to remind us we’re married. We have certain laws, certain structures that we are obligated to as a result of our status as married men, and the Israelites, and the Jews today, have certain status, certain commands, certain demands by God to remember who we are, and not to fall into the temptations of the world, and to the temptations that our eyes lead us to, and that is this tassel.
You look at Orthodox Jews; they’re all wearing the tassel. In the United States, because of the persecution and because of antisemitism, they have it tucked in their pants. In Israel, they’re wearing it out completely. And when we wear a four-cornered garment, like the tallit, like the prayer shawl, which is a square, four-cornered garment, on each corner, we have these tassels. I have one set that is a tallit that I inherited from my dad, that it didn’t have tassels at all. He never wore it. It was brand new, handmade. And after his death, I got it, inherited it, and I put tassels with the real blue thread made from the shellfish that was brought from Lebanon.
So, we remember the commands of God, and do them, and remember that God brought us out of the land of Egypt from slavery into freedom.
Now, the text in the New Testament is fascinating. We have a couple of texts in the New Testament that clarify this to us, and two of them in the Gospel of Matthew. One with the Syrophoenician woman that comes and begs Yeshua to heal her daughter, and she gets ahold of His tassels. It says here, in the English, “the hem of His garment”. The translators to the King James and to the English Bible Wycliffe, and then the King James translators, didn’t know about the tassel. They didn’t know the Jewish custom, so they wrote “at the hem of His garment;” but it’s something else.
The other text, which is much clearer, comes from Matthew 23:5, and that text is really amazing. Actually, it’s a very amazing text. Yeshua is talking about the Pharisees. He’s talking to His disciples and to a crowd about the Pharisees, and He says to them: “But their works they do in order to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad.” In other words, the leather straps that tie the phylacteries, the boxes in which have four texts from the Torah in them, and we put one on the head, and one on the hand, and on the arm, and the one on the arm and the one on the head is tied with leather straps, and they make their straps broad, according to Yeshua, so that they may be seen that they are doing something important. They value it.
And the second thing is they lengthen the borders of their garments. Again, the translators didn’t know what the word tzitzit means, the tassels, and so they translate the border of the garment in English. But it’s talking about this. But the interesting thing is, did Yeshua and His disciples wear the phylacteries every morning? Did they have four-cornered garments with these tassels? Yes, they did because He continues, in Matthew to tell the disciples, “Don’t do what the Pharisees do,” implying that you don’t lengthen your tassels, and you don’t broaden your tefillin, your phylacteries, the straps of your phylacteries. You can’t lengthen something you don’t have; you can’t broaden something you don’t have, and obviously, from Matthew 9:20, and from this text, we understand that Yeshua and His disciples wore these things.
Now we’re going to our portion of the week, which is Korach, starting in Chapter 16, verse 1, immediately after this. Why did I start with the end of Chapter 15? It’s because I believe that the Holy Spirit gave us this instruction so that we remember who we are, remember that we are holy unto the Lord, remember what our job and what our task is in this world. And here, we come to Korach. How do I know that it’s talking about this? Because the first word in the English translation in Korach, is Now.
“Now Korach, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, the son of Dathan, the son of Abiram, the son of Eliab, and one of the sons of Peleth, the sons of Reuben, took men, and they rose up before Moses with the same of the children of Israel, 250 leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renowned.”
That’s the introduction to Korach’s rebellion. The introduction tells us several things that we need to remember. First of all, they were leaders. Second of all, they had a pedigree. They weren’t just anybody. They were leaders of their tribes, of their families, and they were a part of the elite of the congregation of Israel that came out of Egypt. They weren’t just anybody. They were the elect.
And in the history of human rebellion, whether it’s the French Revolution and other revolutions, it’s oftentimes the elite that led the rebellion. The opposition to the British in the War of Revolution in the United States didn’t come from sharecroppers in Georgia, or in Tennessee, or in Kentucky, or North and South Carolina, from the 13 colonies. It came from the leaders, the lawyers, the generals, the rich people. That’s where it started. The ones who signed the Constitution in Philadelphia, they weren’t the plain blue-collar workers of their day.
And here, too, Korach and his band, they are the elite, they are the leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. What does it mean, renowned? Well-known, respected. That’s what renowned means here in the text. They were well-known people, respected people, and they gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why, then, do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?
Ah, we’re democrats, we’re democrats, folks. We think that you should share your authority, your job, allocate, give privileges to the people of the camp of Israel. They’re all holy. We’re all holy, we’re all smart, we all know the Torah.” It’s one of the prayers in the prayer book. Democracy is a wonderful system, and I wouldn’t want to live under dictatorship or tyranny; but it has some weaknesses.
Democracy hasn’t existed, ever, in history much more than 250 years. United States is a little bit more, but my fear is that even in United States, democracy has some cracks in the system. So this idea we are equal, like the French revolution, liberte, egalite, fraternite, yeah, that’s what the crowd shouted when they burned people and put them in the guillotine, and we all live today under the shadow, or the benefit, any way you want to put it, of the French Revolution. Through that, was born the Industrial Revolution. Through that was born what we’re experiencing now, good things, and some not so good things.
But the Korachite rebellion has the excuse: “Moses and Aaron, who made you the top dogs in the camp of Israel? We are all holy, we’re a holy nation. God said so in the giving of the law in Mount Sinai, and therefore, you should share some of your authority and some of your tasks, with us.”
Verse 4 of Chapter 16:
“So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face, and he spoke to Korach and to all of his company, saying, ‘Tomorrow morning, the Lord will show you who is His, and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses... That one who He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. Do this: Take censers, Korach and your company, and put fire in them, and put incense in them before the Lord, tomorrow. And it shall be, that the man who the Lord chooses is the holy one. You take much upon yourselves, sons of Levi!’”
Notice, they’re all from the same tribe of Moses and Aaron, Levites. Their job is to serve the tabernacle, their job is to serve the people with their religious and faith issues, and so Moses says, “Okay, okay, boys, dress up for high noon in the OK Corral. We’ll meet there for the showdown.” That’s essentially what Moses says in the context of the Wild West and Gary Cooper.
“Moses said to Korach, ‘Hear now, you sons of Levi. Is it a small thing to you that God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them, and that He has brought you near to Himself?”
Brought you near to Himself, it means He has literally brought you near to Himself, but also, He has offered you to Himself. The word karev, karov, is the same root as the word korban, which means sacrifice. He has brought you near to Himself, and you are seeking the priesthood. “No, you’re Levite, but you want to be kohanim, priests, also.”
“‘Therefore, you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?’ And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said ‘We will not come up! Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of land of flowing and milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us?’”
Oh, wow, wow, wow!
I’m sure Moses felt bad at this accusation. It’s a false accusation, and not only is a false accusation, it demeans the promises of God. It cast a dark shadow on God’s promises, and His prophetic plan for the children of Israel to come to the land of Canaan. And the abomination that Dathan and Abiram did, it’s not the first time that they are mentioned, by the way, in the Bible. They’re all mentioned in bad context. They took what God said, He’s giving them in the land of Canaan, the land of milk and honey, and they apply it to what? To Egypt, where they were slaves, where they had nothing, where they had no freedoms. They take the holy things of God, the holy promises of God, and they transform them backwards, project them backwards, to Egypt, to the land of their slavery. This abomination is very powerful, very powerful.
And in addition to that, they remind Moses, “What, you are a prince over us? You’re the prince of Egypt, now you want to be a prince over us? Moreover, you have not brought us into the land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of the fields and the vineyards. Will you put out eyes of these men? We will not come up.” They refuse to come up.
The accusations against Moses and Aaron are very serious. Essentially, they say, “You’ve lied to us. The God that you serve has lied to us. He said he’s going to bring us to the land of milk and honey, give us an inheritance of fields and vineyards, but we’ve got nothing. We’re in the wilderness still.”
They didn’t remember the previous portion of where the 12 tribes went and the bad report they brought, and therefore, they had to spend another 38 years in the wilderness. It’s because of them and the 12 tribes, not because of Moses and Aaron, and not because of God. God said, “You boys are not ready to inherit the land of Canaan, yet. You’re too green, you’re too rebellious, you are too ungrateful, and therefore you need to go to boot camp a little longer, 38 years in the wilderness until that generation dies.”
Verse 15 of Chapter 16:
“Then Moses was very angry, and said to the Lord, ‘Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.’”
In other words, “I have treated them fairly, I have blessed them. I have got no salary, no payment, even of one donkey from these guys. I did all my work for the sake of heaven and for their sake, but they’re not appreciative.”
And Moses said to Korach, verse 16 of Chapter 6,
“‘Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the Lord, you and they, as well as Aaron. Let each take his censers and put incense in it, and each bring his censers before the Lord, 250 censers, both you and Aaron, each with his own censer.”
Censer means like a shovel that you put coals in it, and then the herbs and the good-smelling stuff, and you bring that smell into the house of the Lord.
“So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense in it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. And Korach gathered all the censers and put incense in it. And each of you bring his censer before the Lord, 250 censers, both you and Aaron, each with his censer. So, every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. And Korach gathered all the congregation against them [against Moses and Aaron, that is] at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation. And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.’ And they fell on their faces, and said, ‘O Lord, the God of spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin and You be angry with all the congregation?’”
That’s the argument that Abraham used with God at Chapter 18 of Genesis, about Sodom: “You can’t punish everybody because a few have sinned.”
“So, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the congregation, saying, “Get away from the tents of Korach, Dathan, and Abiram.” Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spoke to the congregation, saying, ‘Depart now from the tent of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in their own sins.’”
So, they got away from around the tents of Korach, Dathan, and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram came out and stood in the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children.
And Moses said:
“By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have done none of them on my own will. If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the Lord.”
Here is the principle: Rejecting the servants of the Lord is rejecting God Himself. This principle we see in the positive way and in a negative way in the New Testament. Yeshua was sent by God, and therefore, rejecting Yeshua is rejecting God Himself. And that principle is true in every court in every democratic country in the world. A messenger sent is equal to his sender. His authority is not his own personal authority, it is the authority of the one who sent him. That’s why the New Testament says about Jesus, all authority was given to Him in heaven and on earth. He’s equal to God in every respect, yes, as a messenger is equal to his sender.
“And it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth, swallowed them up, with their households, all the men of Korach, with all their goods. So, they and all those with them went down alive into the pit, the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, and they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us also!’”
They learned their lesson. We also need to learn our lesson. Playing with God’s holiness, playing with God’s sincere love for us, is always going to bring us a disaster. Our faithfulness will bring us tests, but it will bring us blessings. In Yeshua’s name, let’s learn from this portion. Amen.
Joseph Shulam: Modern Thought vs. Biblical Thought 
The Torah reading on this Shabbat is Korach, Numbers 16:1 - 18:32. The story of Korach is the story of rebellion, betrayal, treachery, in the family. Very often the reading of the Torah text that is thousands of years old seems to speak directly to our current events. This issue is very pertinent for us in Israel this particular week. From the prophets (the Haftarah) we read this Shabbat from 1 Samuel 11:14 – 12:22. From the New Testament we read from Romans 13:1-7.
Who was Korach?
“Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi…” – Numbers 16:1
So Korach was from the same tribe as Moses and Aaron. The tribe of Levi was privileged, they were the people who took care of the worship in the Tabernacle. The tribe of Levi received the tenth of the collective community of Israel. They didn’t farm and they didn’t harvest.
They received the tithes of all of the other eleven tribes of Israel and handled the many administrative tasks for all of Israel. Korach, who is from one of the important families of the tribe of Levi gathers some leaders from other tribes to come to Aaron and Moses with the following grievance:
“You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” – Numbers 16:3
The claims of Korach and his rebellious gang were very modern. You Moses and Aaron take too much (authority) upon yourselves. “We are all holy.” We are all as good as you and as capable as you. We deserve to take part in the top leadership of the Tribe of Levi and have equality in the authority.
We demand democracy in the spiritual leadership of the nations of Israel. Why do you Moses and Aaron, take so much authority and exalt yourselves above the congregation? Korach must have read some of the French literature just before the French Revolution.
Korach could have said his claims like this: “We believe in liberty and equality, and fraternity! There is no one here that is better than the others. We are all capable and all smart and all hard-working.
You Moses, and Aaron, have no right to be the sole leaders of the people of Israel. God is just as much with us as He is with you, Moses and Aaron. We demand equality, and an equal sharing of the leadership and the same authority, that you Moses, and Aaron have! What is this nepotism that you two brothers are trying to impose upon us?
The claims of Korach and his gang (250 people strong) are very modern. They are the same claims that are causing much of the turmoil today that is besetting so many Western countries, and especially the USA.
Based on the USA constitution that promises equality, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, for all, people who have not achieved their dreams (because they probably didn’t work hard and expected that someone would just hand them to them on a silver platter - equality, prosperity, happiness), they get frustrated and rebel and riot and complain and ask for someone to provide them with equality without their having to working for it, prosperity without working hard to plant and harvest the fruit of their labor.
I have to tell you that my life has not been easy. I came to America alone, at 16 years of age, with nothing. I came to Dasher, Georgia, a small, very small place. A community of Christians from German background that settled on the edge of the biggest swampland in the USA.
Georgia Christian School was a very closed place. Bill Long was the president of the school. He was a young man in his early 20s. My first days in the country, Bill Long and his wife Laura took care of me and purchased some clothing for me, because I came to the USA with nothing. Very soon after arriving, I was told that I must pay for my schooling, for the dormitory room and for my food like everyone else.
Bill Long made me work every day after school cleaning and every weekend from Friday noon to late night Sunday, traveling with Bill Long all around South Georgia, throughout Florida, and North to Kentucky, and West to Texas. I was two years in Georgia Christian School and worked and paid my bills. It was not easy, but it was a very important lesson in life.
Korach and his gang came to complain against God’s anointed leaders of Israel, against Moses and Aaron. God looked down and saw the motives and grievances of Korach, the desire to have the same authority as Moses and Aaron without the investment and work and pain that is necessary to have that same authority and the respect of the nation.
There are some very important lessons to be learned from Korach’s rebellion, but more important lessons from the way that the Lord reacted to Korach and his gang’s rebellion. You see my dear brothers, the values that we hold, especially nowadays, that we hold as supreme, are the values of the Tower of Babel – equality and uniformity for all! The values of Sodom that are so very similar to socialism.
In Sodom, equality and fraternity and liberty, meant that everyone had the same right to everyone else. Nothing was really to be held as private, not your property or your body. Everyone shares everything with his neighbor, because it is not right to hold private property and even your body is to be shared with your neighbors.
Stop being selfish! We are all equal and have equal rights, so you, Moses and Aaron, you two brothers, stop thinking that you are special, and that God only talks to you! We too have a right to talk to God and in God’s name!
Doesn’t this sound modern and right, and very democratic? For equality and freedom are very high values that we all ought to support and uphold.
Yes, democracy is the greatest and finest form of government. Yes, equality is a divine mandate. Yes, freedom is the only matrix in which for men and women should function in order to have a healthy and sincere relationship with their community and with God.
But freedom is not a license to do anything you want to do! It is privilege to do what is good and right and just according to God’s instructions. Equality is a great value, but it only works when you receive it and not grab it.
Fraternity, and brotherhood, only works when both parties respect each other and think the best of each other. When one side takes advantage of his brother there is no more brotherhood there is only utilitarianism and a brutal use of your brother who will eventually become your enemy.
God could see the heart of Korach and his gang, and this is how God reacted to Korach. Moses was such a humble man that he allowed God to take care of his enemies and those who challenged his leadership. He didn’t take his God given authority and apply the law to Korach and his gang. He knew that God has greater righteousness and the ability to deal with his enemies than he can, by himself.
This is what God did with Korach and his gang:
“And Moses said: ‘By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the Lord.’” – Numbers 16:28-30 [NKJV]
- The lessons that I want you to learn from the story of Korach and Moses are these:
Every man of God will someday be challenged and often falsely accused of hoarding the leadership and not sharing it with the hoi polloi.
- The teaching of Yeshua of turning the other cheek and walking the second mile is applicable not only when you are physically attacked in public. The principle of allowing the Lord to vindicate you and apply justice to your enemies always works if you just have enough patience to allow God to apply His measure of justice. God always comes through, and His justice is seen and evident to all!
- If you try to take the solution into your own hands – you will probably be hurt and your enemy will get away undamaged.
- Rebellion and betrayal never produce good fruit. The West is still harvesting the bitter fruit of the French Revolution.
- Allow the Lord to deal with you and with your enemies and don’t change your position because your enemy has different values.
Please read the Torah reading from Numbers 16:1 - 18:32 and meditate on God’s word.
Joseph Shulam: Good, Bad, and Ugly Leadership 
The reading this Shabbat is from the portion of the Torah called Korach (Numbers 16:1 – 18:32) and from the Prophets the reading is from 1 Samuel 11:14 – 12:22. From the New Testament we are reading Romans 13:1-7.
The portion of Korach is a top-grade lesson for good, bad, and ugly leadership. There is a divine teaching of the Holy Spirit on how leaders ought to act in times of leadership crisis. This prayer list is getting longer and longer because of the teaching part. I realize that many people around the world like the teaching part, and I have been given a request by some of the Netivyah staff to shorten the teaching part. I have promised to try and shorten it from this week on!
The Torah portion starts with these words:
“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown.” – Numbers 16:1,2 [NKJV]
What do we learn from this opening that appears right out of the blue with this gathering? The first thing that we learn is that this is not a spontaneous affair of complaining about the old guard of the leadership.
- Korach the son of Kohath is a Levite from a family of Levites, just like Moses and Aaron, who are from the same tribe.
- Korach had to work hard to gather all the disgruntled Levites who had unfulfilled leadership aspirations, including Dathan and Abiram and the sons of Reuben. It takes organization and talking and gossiping against the established God-given leadership that had been serving the people for many years.
- Korach and his gang didn’t come with peaceful intentions but with rebellion in their hearts. We see this from the words, “they rose up before Moses.” In other words this was not a legitimate request for jobs, or attention, or better conditions. It was an uprising, a rebellion, a challenge for deposing Moses and Aaron, it was an attempt to take over to overcome Moses and Aaron.
- To get 250 leaders of the nation of Israel to come with them to challenge the leadership one would have to work mighty hard to get 250 Israelite leaders to agree on anything. This would be especially true when we are talking politics. In the last 12 months we have had three national elections and even this present supposed “unity government” that was formed by Benjamin Netanyahu and Benjamin Gantz is standing on shaky ground. So, you can imagine that Mr. Korach was working very hard for a long time to gather 250 Israeli leaders to convince them that they are going to be able to overthrow Moses. I imagine Korach had already promised positions and jobs to several of the other leaders.
Now this is how the story continues:
“They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” – Numbers 16:3 [NKJV]
Notice the claim of the Korachite gang:
- Moses and Aaron you are taking too much upon yourself.
- This could sound like they are concerned for Moses and his heavy schedule and work and they want to share the burden of Moses as leader. But, this is not the case here. They are actually saying: "Moses you are not a monopoly here. We are here and we want a part of the leadership. We want democracy and equality in the leadership. You can't do it alone!"
- We are all qualified and holy no less than you and your brother Aaron.
- We are as qualified as you and Aaron! You must share the leadership with us because we are as good as you are.
- Of course they are not taking into account that Moses didn't want this task of taking the children of Israel out of Egypt. He didn't chase after the job, and it was imposed upon Moses by the almighty God.
- It was also Moses that did all the work directed by God before Egypt and Pharaoh
and all of Egypt.
- There should be equality between us, and leadership ought to be shared and not
kept for so long in the same family.
- This argument of Korach and his gang sounds very modern. Equality, fraternity, and freedom for us to do what we want to do. This argument is very modern and the claim of equality without effort, and fraternity without debt and reciprocity and freedom without limitations is a formula for anarchy and in the end dictatorship.
- Moses brings a very important argument in this case, an argument that very few politicians if any can bring today. Let the Lord be the judge between me and Korach and his people. This is one of the most important lessons for leaders who are challenged and attacked by other leaders and people who claim to be sent by God or by the desire to compete with the present leadership. What develops in most cases is a competition, intrigues, false accusations, dirty war, and defamation.
- Moses does not stoop to the level of his opposition. He does not take the low road to attack and defame Korach and the 250 men that stand with Korach. He calls upon the Lord to be the judge and his own vindication. The Lord does a good job of cleaning up the camp of the rebellious bunch.
- The children of Israel saw how God dealt with Nadab and Abihu the sons of Aaron and they ought to have understood and repented of their sinful behavior and of their challenging the appointment of God, Moses and Aaron. Korach and his gang of 250 men didn’t expect the divine intervention of the earth to open and swallow them all alive into the pits of Hell.
- As leaders and disciples of Yeshua the messiah we must not only believe in Yeshua, but also believe what He, our lord and king, instructed us to do. He instructed us to turn our cheek to our oppressors and become fishers of men. He instructed us not to return evil for evil, but to do good. Moses allowed the Lord to be the judge and the Lord is the judge not only on the judgement day of all flesh, but also now here on Earth. The Lord is the same God that we read about in the Bible. He has the same wisdom and judges the evil men as well as the righteous. He is the same God who asked Abraham to leave his father’s house, his country, his nation, and go to a place that is controversial, the land of Canaan.
I am as challenged by the leadership of Moses as I am challenged by the teaching of Yeshua our Messiah and King. My challenge is to be able to allow the Lord of all, to be not only my Savior and Atonement, but also my Rabbi / Teacher and Instructor for my daily living and preparation for eternity. I hope that you read the story of Korach and concentrate on what you can learn from Moses, the positive, the patient, the allowing your vindication to come from God and not from your own hands.
Joseph Shulam: It is not Always Good to Seek to be First 
The upcoming Torah portion is Parashat Korach, from Numbers 16:1-18:32. From the Prophets the reading will be from 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22, and from the New Testament from Romans 13:1-7.
The portion of Korach deals with the rebellion of very important leading families against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. This rebellion against the leadership of God’s chosen leaders was based on three principles that are nowadays modern and even post modern.
Read what the word of God says about this rebellion:
“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” – Numbers 16:1–4 [NKJV]
The first basis of this rebellion was the value of equality. This value was born and made “holy” during the French Revolution of 1879. Three values that are very popular today were raised during this revolution: equality, liberty, fraternity.
Of course, these are very important human rights and values. But when they are taken to the extreme and with the wrong and selfish motives, like during the French Revolution and much earlier in the Korahite rebellion, these important values can be harmful to the future of a civil and just rule of law and order.
The leaders of several important priestly families come to Moses and they demand equality. “We are just as good as you dear cousins Moses and Aaron.” “We are from the same tribe of Levi and we also serve in the Tabernacle like your family.” “We deserve equality and it is enough that you have set yourselves to be priests.”
The challenge that these Korahite leaders gave sounds just and good and right today. The value of democracy is also the value of equality before the law. The claim is clear, “all the congregation is holy” – you Moses and Aaron are not the only holy people in the tribe of Levi.
We are all holy and therefore we deserve equal share of the total leadership. You can’t be the only ultimate leaders. “We want democracy,” they shouted in modern political language.
The problem with democracy and equality is that they bring up in human beings two bad qualities: selfishness and jealousy. Under a normal and fair society, with good moral and godly leaders, equality is not something that you demand, it is a value that you gain and receive.
The reason that I say this is because a demanding attitude is already a sign that expresses an attitude of rebellion. What Korach and his band didn’t remember is that Moses never wanted to be a leader. This leadership of the children of Israel, while they were slaves serving in Egypt, was imposed upon Moses by the Creator Himself.
If we believe in God? If we believe that there is a loving God who created us and everything around us, we must also understand that He, our God, cares for us and provides for all all that we need. This includes the proper leadership for our place and time.
Different times require different types of leaders. In Israel during the formation of the state, a kind of short person, a type of Napoleon Bonaparte, took the leadership of the nation and established the State of Israel, David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion was not an easy person to get along with. He was a very important person and without David Ben-Gurion the establishment of the State of Israel could have been delayed for decades, if not longer.
He was the right man for the right job. Moses seems much more accepting, a softer leader, because of his close relationship with God. So, in place of fighting for his own rights and leadership – Moses says: “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy.”
In other words, the Lord will show you sons of Korach, and the rest of the leadership of Israel, who is holy and whom the Lord has appointed and chosen to be the priestly leaders of the children of Israel.
The result of this rebellion was horrible:
“Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, ‘Lest the earth swallow us up also!’ And a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.” – Numbers 16:31–35 [NKJV]
What killed the Korahites and their rebellion? It was first and foremost selfishness. After the selfishness came their desire for power to rule. The thirst to dominate and be recognized as equal to Moses and to Aaron.
But, maybe the worst ingredient of this bloody story is that this jealousy from someone whom God has chosen to lead, and whom He equipped with the abilities and tools to lead His people, was so disproportionate and out of place. These people from the tribe of Levi had a very important task, as Moses said to them:
“Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?” – Numbers 16:8-10 [NKJV]
These sons of the tribe of Levi had a very honorable position. God had taken them and separated them from the rest of the congregation of Israel to be His servants to be close to Him, but they were unhappy with just being God’s servants. They wanted the priesthood.
They wanted equality with Moses and Aaron. Their motives were not to serve God but to be equal to Moses and Aaron and receive the same rights and privileges that Moses and Aaron had. That is, to be honored not as Levites, but as priests of God Almighty.
It is precisely this kind of search for equality that is bringing down democracies around the whole world. It is this hunger to rule and to dominate, without having earned that right by service, self-sacrifice, and dedication to the cause. We must understand that it is not always healthy or helpful to have the ambition and desire to be first.
Seeking equality without seeing justice and honor as prime mitigators of our selfish desires and appetites to rule and dominate is the main downfall of great empires. The greatness of Moses is seen in the parasha reading in that in spite of Moses’ anger and desire to demonstrate his authority to all of Israel, and especially to the Korahites, Moses interceded for these rebellious sons of Korach when God was angry:
“And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.’ Then they fell on their faces, and said, ‘O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?’” – Numbers 16:20–23 [NKJV]
Moses gives God the same argument that Abraham gave God in the discussion of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham argued with God, and God was willing to argue with Abraham. God was willing to stop the punishment of Sodom if they had even 10 righteous men.
However, when we see God in action exercising His right to do justice and restore righteousness even against His chosen and elected nation, we understand that the Lord, God of Israel, is truly no respecter of persons. And everyone, from the highest to the lowest, will receive his just reward or just punishment, in the right day and in the right hour.
As human beings we all want what the French Revolution was fighting for. We all want equality, liberty, and fraternity. However, with these very important and high values there has to come other values that will help us control and put in place the checks and balances to keep our liberty, without taking the liberty of our neighbors and fellow humans.
To work for equality, but not out a sense of “you owe me!” To seek fraternity without the abuse selfishness and self-service by the abuse of our liberty and equality, but with the desire to serve the whole community with that same equality and liberty for all.
We like to quote that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We forget that what is also spoken of this same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:
“For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.” – Romans 11:21 [NKJV]
“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;” – 2 Peter 2:4,5 [NKJV]
“For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him…” – Hebrews 2:2,3 [NKJV]
This aspect of God is not so popular today in Christian circles. But we must not forget that God is also called a consuming fire. And in the case of Korach and his band, this aspect of God is clearly demonstrated. So, I just want to again remind myself and you too that, “we can’t escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which first began to be spoken by the Lord, and confirmed to us by those who heard Him…” (In the Old Testament and are for us as examples.)
Joseph Shulam: The Problem With Democracy 
This week’s reading in the Torah is Parashat Korach, about Korach and his band rebelling against Moses and Aaron. This event in the wilderness actually created a trauma in the history of Israel that has not been totally healed until today.
What was the issue that caused this rebellion? The main issue is stated in the following text:
“They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” - Numbers 16:3 [NKJV]
What is this claim of Korach and his group of 250 leaders in Israel? The claim is the classic claim of democracy. “We are all equal,” “we all have the same privileges,” “we are all holy.” If this premise is true as the premise of today’s democracy, there is no room for divinely-chosen and appointed and anointed leadership like Moses, or even like Christ Himself, or the apostles or the prophets.
Korach would be right - Moses and Aaron don’t have the privilege of being the only leaders and the only ones who have access to the ear and the desires of God. Everyone should be eligible to lead the people of Israel in the wilderness, and decisions ought to be made by a democratic vote and not by divine revelation.
The root of this rebellion is already in chapter 12 of Numbers, when Miriam and Aaron made the same claim to Moses their brother. The root for the criticism of Miriam and Aaron was from chapter 11, when two men, Eldad and Medad, prophesied outside the Tabernacle, and Moses said, “I wish that all of Israel would prophecy.” Moses said this in good faith and in wishful thinking, anticipating the pouring out of the Spirit of God on all flesh, like Joel the prophet promised many years later.
My point is simple. There is equality between all men, and all men and women are created equal under the authority and direction of the Creator Himself. However, there are fathers and there are sons. The son has to be respectful and honor his father and his mother. There are husbands and there are wives. They are equal, but the wife has to be submitted to her husband.
There are leaders and there are followers. The followers have to respect, hear, and follow the leaders. This is the order of the universe that God created. The leaders must not abuse their followers, because they are ordained to lead their flock to safe haven and to good pastures. The leaders are to protect their followers even at the price of their own lives.
In the Israeli Defence Forces, the number of officers that die in battle is as high, and sometimes higher, than the number of unlisted men, because the motto of the IDF is “Follow Me.” What we see in Korach and his band of rebellious followers is a breakdown of the order ordained by God. The breakdown started with Miriam and Aaron, and was followed by the 250 elite leaders of the tribes of Israel.
The price was not exacted by Moses and Aaron. That would make them bad leaders, selfish leaders, insecure leaders. They left the outcome in the hands of the One that appointed them, the Lord Himself. He gave Korach and his band of rebellion the full force of His law. The earth swallowed Korach and his followers, with their tents and all of their belongings.
Democracy is the best form of government only when it is curbed by respect and appreciation for the authority, and when the authority is based on God’s principles and values. When these two things pass from the world, democracy loses its authority, and the values change from God’s values to the values of the lowest common denominator. That means human passions, selfishness, and competition on issues where no competition is possible, because God has set the rules and standards.
At that point, democracy turns against itself and devours itself. Our world, Western Civilization, is almost reaching the point of democracy losing the divine right to rule in freedom. It is turning against itself, to devour itself by approving values and issues that are expressly forbidden by God and expressly negate nature itself.
This is an issue to pray for, my dear brothers and sisters. Christianity as we know it: the division, the competition, the neglect of God’s law, and the racism that still exists even among Christians.
Joseph Shulam: A Problem Every Leader Must Face 
The reading of this week is a double portion of Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32). Korach is the ultimate lesson in leadership in time of crisis.
I suppose that in the lifetime of every leader there are moments that could be suggestive of the situation of Moses and his cousins, the family of Korach.
We have already seen in Numbers 12 the rebellion of Aaron and Miriam, the older brother and older sister of Moses, who have been his firsthand personal supporters and partners in the leadership of Israel out of Egyptian slavery into freedom. Miriam criticized Moses and spoke against him, and the result was immediately infected with leprosy. Moses her brother prayed for Miriam’s healing from leprosy, and she was healed.
It seems like the people of the tribe of Levi did not learn from Miriam’s experience, and they came to Moses together with a few dubious characters of whom we have heard before, Dathan and Abiram (the sons of Eliab), and On (the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben). Korach and his family are from the tribe of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram are from the tribe of Reuben. What do these people from different tribes have in common, and why would they want to cooperate in this rebellious action against God’s anointed ones, Moses and Aaron? What is their claim against Moses and Aaron?
- Numbers 16:3, “You take too much upon yourselves. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
- “You take too much [responsibility] upon yourselves.”
- “All the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them.”
- “We are just as good as you and have the same relationship with God that you have. We can lead the people better than you can because we are united in a union, and we are more than you two.”
- “We want democracy, equal rights. You are not special, and therefore you can’t have special privileges as leaders.”
- They claim that any one of the 250 men of renown, leaders of their tribes, are just as good as Moses and Aaron, and that there is nothing special in the relationship of Moses and Aaron with God, that is different from what every one of the leaders of the tribes has.
- You can see the modern humanistic values peeping through the dark veil of a rebellious spirit and hunger and greed for leadership, recognition, and wanting a piece of the action from the swamp of government.
- Around great men of God there are always those of lesser character and greater hunger for power, motivated by feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth, like Korach, Dathan, and Abiram. They feel ignored and slighted. They feel underprivileged. “If someone has just a little more than I have, I must feel that he is obtaining the position by abuse and evil motivation.” Equality is a tool in the hands of Korach and his group to get into the places of power for motives that are less than holy.
And what is Moses’ response to this rebellion of some of his own relatives?
“So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, ‘Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company; put fire in them and put incense in them before the Lord tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the Lord chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!’” - Numbers 16:4–7 [NKJV]
- Moses falls on his face, out of grief and sadness.
- Moses does not take the action against these people by himself. He leaves the action to God. There is no leader that can really defend himself against such accusations as Korach and his group levee against a leader. Anything that he would do would only prove their claims as true.
- Moses leaves the matter in the hands of the Almighty Himself. Moses tells the rebellious:
- “Please wait till tomorrow morning, the Lord will show who is His and who is holy”.
- “The Lord will take those who are claiming to be holy.”
- “You are Levites, take your censers (little shovels) and fill them with incense. Put fire in your censers and come before the Lord tomorrow.” This action is actually the daily normal activity of the Korahites. They, as Levites, brought the incense before the Lord.
- Notice that Moses turns around the same argument that the sons of Korach had against him and Aaron, “You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!”
- Moses did get angry, but his anger was managed well and he spoke to the Lord: “Then Moses was very angry, and said to the Lord, ‘Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.’” - Numbers 16:15 [NKJV]
- The Lord heard the prayer of Moses and this is what happened next: “So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation.”
- Before the Lord took action against the rebellion of the Korahite group, He warned Moses and Aaron, and the rest of Israel, to get away from the gang of the rebellious leaders: “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”
- “The Lord creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the Lord.” - Numbers 16:18–30 [NKJV]
What can we as leaders learn from this sad occasion in the history of our people, in a period when the Lord’s presence was visible by day and by night, in a period that all of Israel enjoyed the daily miracle of manna, water from the rock, and divine victory over Amalek? That generation of the wilderness-wandering, with the daily presence of the Lord and access to His divine council, and still the lust for power, selfishness, and greed, gave birth to rebellion against God’s anointed ones.
The result was horrible. The whole 250 leaders of Israel that joined Korach and his gang were burned, and their tents, property, and families all paid the high price. Their case became a sign and an example that we all have to learn from and watch for, because such rebellions can happen and do happen even today. But the divine fire is slow to come today, because we don’t have a temple or priests or Levites who are actually serving in the presence of the Lord, like in those days in the wilderness of Sinai.
Joseph Shulam: Who Was Korach? 
This week the Jewish communities in the Diaspora are reading the parasha called Korach. This reading starts in Numbers 19:1–22:1, and it tells the story of Korach and his family. First, we should see who were this Korach and his family! We need to know this in order to discern today and recognize who are the disciples of Korah who inhabit our communities today.
Korach was the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi. Exodus 6:18 connects Korach with Hebron, Uzziel and Amram, who were his uncles on the father’s side. In Exodus 16:1, Korach’s lineage is traced back to Levi the son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.
Numbers 16:1,21 traces this lineage back further to Levi, son of the patriarch Israel. In fact, Korach was from the family of Levi and was related to Aaron, the brother of Moses. This is important to understand that Korach was not one of the obscure people in the Israelite camp. This is why in Hebrew we say, “rich like Korach.” It is an equivalent to the English idiom, “rich like Midas.”
“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” - Numbers 16:1-3 [NKJV]
What was the problem with Korach and his clan that rebelled against Moses and Aaron? Why was the punishment against Korach and all those who joined him so harsh? Where the land opened up and swallowed the whole clan and those who joined Korach alive into the pit?
- Korach did not come alone to complain to Moses and Aaron about their leadership style and the exclusivity of their posts, that were appointed by God Himself. They came with a whole crowd that they had mustered, organized, and prepared to turn against the leadership of Moses and Aaron.
- Korach and his clan did not speak as individuals with concern for their rights and privileges, but they spoke in the name of 250 leaders, man of renown, representatives of the people.
- They had not shown any appreciation for the years that Moses and Aaron had spent leading the people of Israel through the wilderness of Sinai, feeding the people, arbitrating for the people, interceding for the people before God, and just leading and adjudicating this great rabble for so many years in the wilderness. This lack of gratitude toward Moses and Aaron was in reality a lack of gratitude toward God Himself, who chose and appointed Moses and Aaron to their particular tasks as leaders of the Israelite people.
- Not accepting God’s appointed leaders is equal to not accepting God Himself. This principle is also the principle that Yeshua was teaching in the Gospel of John, when He said that if you accept Moses you also accept Yeshua, and if you don’t accept Yeshua you don’t really accept Moses. This principle is a key component in our faith in Yeshua, Moses, and the prophets.
- The claims of “democracy” that Korach is claiming sounds like this: “for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” Let us look at this claim after I translate it for you into modern English:
- We are all equal and we all have the same rights!
- Religion is all equal, and God is in every one of the religions equally valid.
- There is no one above the other, and you, Moses and Aaron, don’t have a right to rule over us in the congress, and in the Senate, and even in the White House, we should have someone from our own class.
Here are some eye-openers that we should all take into consideration:
- Moses did not want to be a leader of the people of Israel. God almost forced him to take the leadership and go down to Egypt to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelite slaves go. He was God-chosen, God-prepared, and God-appointed. The same is also true for Aaron his brother.
- It is not true that everyone is equal. It is true that everyone is created equal by God, and as long as people are living according to God’s rules, true equality will prevail and all will have the rights and the privileges that will guarantee them the right to be happiness. Happiness and joy are not something that anyone can take away from his neighbor, nor are they qualities that anyone can give to his neighbor. We can make it easier or more difficult for each other to be happy and joyful, but no much more than that.
- Democracy is a wonderful system of government, but it is not a divine God-given system.
- The first democracy was in Athens, Greece, and it did not last very long. Most of the world has never had true democracy, where every citizen is equal in all the rights and privileges to his neighbor.
- In most countries where there is a claim of democracy and equality between the citizens, this equality is partial and never full, because people are born with different capabilities and talents.
- Education, wealth, color of the skin, height, weight, color of the hair, job, and beauty, all play a role in the actual privileges and true rights that human beings experience in this world.
- God showed in no uncertain terms that Moses and Aaron are going to remain the leaders whom He appointed and anointed for the task. Korach and all his “gang” were swallowed alive into the earth that opened up its mouth.
- It might seem harsh on God’s part to react so strongly to this claim of Korach and his band of 250 elite members of the Israeli society in the wilderness of Sinai. But, it ought to be a clear and present danger to all who in the name of total equality are devouring the very branch that they are sitting on. It should be a lesson to all who are elevating any political system to be equal to God’s plan of salvation for all mankind, which is really the only total equality for all mankind. The equalizing factor that is unique and works is the blood of the Lamb that was shed for our transgressions, and delivered us from darkness into the divine light that came from Sinai to Calvary.
Joseph Shulam: True Leaders are Appointed by God 
This week the parasha (Torah portion) is Korach. Who was Korach? He is best remembered as Korach who carried a rebellion against Aaron and Moses.
Korach was from the tribe of Levi. Korach the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi. Therefore Korach was a cousin of Moses and Aaron. This is actually something that I did not know before today. It makes the whole story of Korach’s rebellion even more interesting for me. Here is a member of the family of Moses and Aaron, a son of the same tribe. The tribe of Levi was appointed by God to take care of the tabernacle, the worship, and the whole sacrificial system for all of Israel. It was a tribe of people who were in the elite of Israel’s spiritual ladder.
What was Korach’s problem with Moses and Aaron? Why did Korach lead a rebellion against the anointed of God? These questions are important not only for understanding the past, but also for understanding the present and the future of governing bodies, both in the spiritual houses of this world, and also in the political homes that govern our world.
Moses and Aaron were leaders appointed and anointed by God. Moses was called by God and appointed to save the children of Israel out of Egypt’s slavery, and lead them to the land of Canaan.
“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” - Numbers 16:1-3 [NKJV]
What I read in this text is the following:
- Korach speaks like he wants democracy and not the oligarchy of Moses and Aaron. Korach’s arguments were very modern, and they sound like some politician speaking today in the Parliament or in the Congress.
- Korach first gathers a crowd of 250 people from the elite of Israel’s camp. He gathered Dathan and Abiram, two leaders from the tribe of Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob, to stand by his side.
- Korach and his band came to Moses and Aaron and claimed: “We are all holy people and the Lord is with us all. We should all be leaders and participate in the decision-making process. Don’t be dictators and take all the authority to yourselves. We need democracy and equality, this is the right thing to do now and you should not take so much upon yourselves. We can help you and take some of the burden of leadership off of your shoulders.”
- “You, Moses and Aaron, actually exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord. You don’t share the leadership with us, even though we are all just as intelligent, smart, and capable as you are.”
Aaron and Moses’ reaction is so very democratic and fair. In short, Moses told the decanting crowd, “let the Lord prove whom he has chosen to lead this nation.” At that, point Dathan and Abiram rebelled not only against Aaron and Moses, but also against God’s promises:
“So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, ‘Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him [the same word for sacrifice - “korban”]. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him… You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!’ Then Moses said to Korah, ‘Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them…? And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up! Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”’” - Numbers 16:4-14 [NKJV]
The ungrateful attitude of Dathan and Abiram, twisting the blessings of the Lord and turning them upside down by saying that Egypt is the land of milk and honey, and accusing Moses and the Lord that they brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to kill them in the wilderness, is what in my opinion brought the terrible death and execution of this whole rebellious band of people.
You see, dear brothers and sisters, when a nation is about to enter into the “promised land” into the presence of the Lord, the leadership can not be in rebellion and in discord. The modern and post-modern attitudes of our day are not so new. The idea that all people are eligible, able, and equal, and that democracy is the only valued and effective way to lead is not true, and in fact it was never true.
There is no democracy that has ever existed in the history of mankind more than 400 years; even ancient Athens, where democracy was invented, did not last 400 years. The humanistic arguments that all are equal and all should have the same abilities, and therefore the same job, and therefore all should be leaders and have an inherent equality, are not exactly a biblical concept. This is true in the story of Moses and Aaron and the Korahite rebellion, and God showed how angry and grieved He was with Korach and his band of rebels by opening up the ground and swallowing the whole lot of them and their families into the ground.
The church, and all of Israel, need to know that leaders are not made in a cookie factory, and there is no college or university, Christian or Jewish, that produces leaders anointed by God to lead His people. Leaders are the men and women who are touched with the fire of the burning bush that burns and does not consume. The leaders of God’s choice have a burning in their hearts, and are open and seek God’s guidance by day and by night, in sunshine and in storm clouds. The best of these leaders often don’t want to lead and don’t seek fame and acclaim.
Please pray for the next generation of leaders in Israel and in the Body of the Messiah worldwide. We need leaders who are not office holders, but heroes of truth and compassion, and who love God and men enough to take the blows of all the Korahites and allow God to make the response and fight our battles like we fight His battle.
Yehuda Bachana: A Call to Sacrifice for the People of Israel 
Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.
This Shabbat we learn about Parashat Korach (Korah). Who exactly was Korach? He was a prominent figure from the tribe of Levi; one of the leaders of the people of Israel. In addition, he challenged Moses regarding his leadership and Aaron's election to priesthood.
Our weekly Torah portion describes a very severe rebellion by Korach and 250 of his men, against Moses and Aaron. Korach and his men actually accused Moses and Aaron of appointing themselves to their positions:
“…And now you also want to lord it over us!” - Numbers 16:13b [NIV]
They also claimed that Moses and Aaron used their status for personal pleasure:
“…Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” - Numbers 16:3b [NIV]
Korach's argument was that all people were equal; we are all holy and we are all the same. This word, equality, is more relevant today than ever, today we are all fighting for equality.
Are We All Created Equal?
Our social life starts at kindergarten where everyone is considered equal. We all sing the same songs and play the same games. At my daughter's kindergarten, they had a sport's day. There were no winners, however, everyone received a medal, everyone gets first place.
Life moves on to first grade where we are crammed into a square classroom for 12 years, where our only common denominator is our date of birth. Our interests, our talents, and even our personalities are squeezed into a cookie-cutter pattern. The children wear the same uniform, there is no way to stand out. At some point, we became convinced that we were all equal.
As the Haggadah says, we all came out of Egypt. We crossed the sea together, together we stood facing Mount Sinai, we accepted the Torah together, we are all equally responsible for the Torah - but can we ignore the fact that Moses is the greatest prophet? The concluding verses of the Torah are:
“Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” - Deuteronomy 34:10-12 [NIV]
(And then we say the words “chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek” to conclude the Torah.)
The Need for Inequality
Moses is the greatest of the prophets. But what about Yeshua? Yeshua is not only a prophet, He is much more than that. Yeshua is the embodiment of salvation, he is the Messiah. He is the subject of all the prophecies of Moses, and all other prophets. All the prophets prophesied about Yeshua.
Returning to Moses, can we or should we sacrifice the uniqueness of Moses, or of any one of us, on the altar of equality?
Within the family, you can find everything except for equality. Inequality between parents and children, between the first born and the last born, between the genders and various ages. Everyone has a unique place, role, and rights.
We wouldn't have made it anywhere if we were all created equal. This is because we all need each other, because we have differences in talents and abilities. The architect needs an engineer, who needs a contractor, who needs an electrician and a plumber, who needs a builder, who needs a carpenter, and everyone needs a customer.
A Good Leader Knows How to Utilize Talent
A good leader knows how to derive from each person a different skill. He also knows how to place each person in the optimal position for that particular individual's talent and ability. When a person is in the right environment, which allows a person to express his talents, this is called success and everyone benefits.
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the richest and most influential people in the world, explains 11 important and practical points for life. One of these points is that human beings are not equal. No matter how much the world tries to make us think we are equal, men, women, or otherwise, this is simply not true.
God has entrusted us all with different gifts, and in varying quantities. I like to call these gifts “talents” or “abilities.” Each of us has a different ability that also comes in different quantity.
God has Given Us a Varying Amount of Talents
We have all received a different amount of talents from above. One might have received twenty, another received ten, five, or even three.
In the parable of the talents, which appears in Matthew 25:14, A rich man went on a journey and deposited his fortune with his three servants. Each of them received a different amount and the freedom to do with the portion he received as best he could. When he returned, he discovered that two of his servants were responsible and loyal.
They actively invested the capital, they tried to the best of their ability to generate profit with what was given to them. What are those profits? The parable teaches us that in every man the profit is different, but the principle is similar, and it is to build each other and the Kingdom of Heaven. These servants thought to themselves: “I know what is required of me and I want to achieve these goals.”
But the third servant chose the passive route. He said to his employer:
“…I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground…” - Matthew 25:24b,25a [NIV]
He's saying, “I didn't do anything with it. I'm returning the deposit.”
The third servant can be seen as a servant who has not utilized his talent and his ability. He buried it in the ground and returned it to his master.
Why We Should Use Our Talents for Good
We too, will have to account for the way in which we have used everything entrusted to us.
If we are found to be unfaithful, even what we have will be taken from us and given to others, to those who are faithful, just like what happened to Korach. Once again, Korach was not just a common man, he was of a high standing, but once he stopped being loyal, he tried to exploit his status and wealth for harm, for rebellion, and in the end he lost what he had.
The hard part of the parable is undoubtedly the claim of the lazy slave, the one who did not do enough with what God gave him, “I knew that you are a hard man.” There are several ways to understand this part, I will try to interpret it this way:
For some reason we think that worshiping God, believing in God, and serving Him, gives us special rights as believers. Somehow we will have it better, more comfortable, and that we will have special protection.
Sometimes this really happens, but most often it does not. Occasionally it's the other way around, we actually suffer more because of our love and worship of God, because of our service.
Bad Things Can Still Happen to God’s Servants
Let's start from this basic fact: God created us and we are His. He can do as He pleases. The fact that we serve Him is because we must. Not because there is a reward, but because it is our duty. If we do not fulfill this duty, we will be thrown into the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, into darkness. The fact that God sometimes grants the faithful a reward is a bonus.
Sometimes we have the idea in mind, deeply rooted both in Judaism and in Christianity, that God's servants are not harmed.
During my military service in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, one of the greatest rabbis of Northern Israel hosted our unit and cared for us until we went into Lebanon.
But what is interesting is that he gave everyone a half-shekel coin, which we were obligated to give to charity after we return from the war.
What did he mean by this? That we are servants of God being sent out, and therefore no evil will come to us, that God's servants are not harmed. This is a nice idea, but it's not Biblical nor is it realistic.
It's the same with our way of thinking. We think that we can manipulate God. If I give up $200 of my salary, I will lack nothing. God will take care of my expenses. Really?
The Bible is full of bad things that happened to good people, prophets, priests, and leaders.
One of the great prophets, Elijah, who ascended into heaven, is the same prophet who suffered greatly here on this earth. Half of the time he was running away from King Ahab, who wanted to kill him. If you think he had fun running away, he definitely didn't! Elijah begged God, who was not good to him, to kill him out of mercy (1 Kings 19:4).
Why am I telling you this? There is a verse in our parasha, which is significantly underappreciated. We truly do not understand the depth of sacrifice that is embodied in this verse:
“So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.” - Numbers 16:47,48 [NIV]
The Importance of Self-Sacrifice
We read this verse in passing, but the same Aaron, whose two sons died, punished with fire from above, ran into the inferno, into the punishment of God. He ran and stood between the living and the dead.
If for a moment we think that Aaron was exempt, and that he would not be hurt, we are incorrect. Aaron took an unusual risk. Most people would escape from the fire and flee when bad things happen, terror attacks and the like. The norm is that people do not run into danger.
However, here we see the essence of the heavy price of leadership, which puts the people before the leader, who loves the people - even if they sinned, and the leader is willing to endanger himself for the sake of the community.
There is something to learn from this act. We are a part of this people, it is our duty to sacrifice, even if we might get hurt.
We are required to sacrifice in army service. We are required to sacrifice a great deal as parents and as believers in the community.
Here I want to conclude with a story from the Gemara, a dilemma about a jug of water:
“If two people were walking on a desolate path and there was a jug [kiton] of water in the possession of one of them, and the situation was such that if both drink from the jug, both will die, as there is not enough water, but if only one of them drinks, he will reach a settled area, there is a dispute as to the halakha.
Ben Petora taught: It is preferable that both of them drink and die, and let neither one of them see the death of the other. This was the accepted opinion until Rabbi Akiva came and taught that the verse states: ‘And your brother shall live with you,’ indicating that your life takes precedence over the life of the other.” - Bava Metzia 62a
There have been many commentaries on this story. In other words, why does Ben Petora claim one thing, and why does Rabbi Akiva say another?
There is a third alternative, which was not discussed: it is possible that the owner of the jug will be permitted, or even asked, to hand over the entire jug to his friend and die.
The third interpretation is the idea of self-sacrifice, we as Messianic Jews can and must add to the Israeli-Jewish discourse. The Apostle Paul explains to us the idea of self-sacrifice:
“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.” - Romans 9:1-4 [NIV]
God forbid we were to take this verse at face value. I see the spirit of sacrifice of the Apostle Paul, like Aaron's, who ran into the fire, and with his body and his courage, stopped the plague.
A day will come when we, as believers, will be called to the flag and there will be those who run into the inferno in self-sacrifice for the sake of the (physical) people of Israel. We can only do so with the help of Yeshua the Messiah who lives in us.