This week’s Parsha is best known for its description of the dramatic rebellion against the leadership of Moshe and Aharon by their cousin Korach and his group of malcontents.
The story of this revolt overshadows the second revolt also found in the Parsha, whose consequences were far more devastating than the Korach rebellion which preceded it. After the demise of Korach and his fellow travelers, a new rebellion erupted against Moshe and Aharon which led to the deaths of no less than 14,700 people.
What was the reason behind the new rebellion, and why did Moshe react so uncharacteristically when the unrest began? Who instigated the rebellion, and how were the issues resolved? The episode ends with a mysterious ‘test’ involving Aharon’s staff and staffs belonging to the princes of the other eleven tribes.
Why was this test necessary, and how did it settle the issue of hierarchy in Jewish religious leadership once and for all?
Rabbi Dunner looks at the classic commentators to unlock the powerful and far-reaching messages contained in this story, ending with a piece by Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch that shines a light on the definition of Jewish religious leadership that remains relevant to this day.