Korach's Mistake by Sammy Schwartz


In this week’s Parashah, Parashat Korach, Rashi comments that Korach is a very clever man. If so, what leads Korach to commit his infamous sin? Rashi answers that it is because “Eino Hitato”, meaning that Korach's eye misled him. Korach, perhaps prophetically, saw that a line of tremendous men would descend from him, including Shmuel HaNavi. We see this in Sefer Tehillim (99:6), which describes Shmuel as a person who was as important as Moshe and Aharon put together. Therefore, Korach said, “Bishvillo Ani Nimlat,” “because of him (Shmuel), I will escape punishment” (BeMidbar 16:7 s.v. Rav Lachem Bnei Leivi).

Rav Boruch Sorotzkin asks the following: why does Rashi speak in singular, saying that Korach's eye misled him? Why wouldn't he say that Korach's eyes misled him? After all, doesn’t a person does have two eyes? Rav Sorotzkin explains that one of the great and important characteristics of a Tzaddik is that he looks at every issue from many different perspectives and doesn't jump too quickly to any conclusion. Rashi is teaching us that Korach didn't act in a righteous manner. Korach used only one eye, so to speak, and was therefore misled. For example, Korach didn't look at the consequences of his actions or at the fact that he would be punished. Instead, he relied on the fact that his descendents would repent on behalf of him, and he would thereby be saved.

This lesson is related to a teaching in Pirkei Avot. The Mishnah states (Pirkei Avot 1:6), “VeHavei Dan Et Kol HaAdam LeKaf Zachut,” “You should judge ‘Kol HaAdam’ favorably.” The phrase “Kol Ha’Adam” is usually translated as “every person.” The literal translation, however, is “the whole person”. The Mishnah is teaching us that if we look at the whole person and at his situation from different perspectives instead of jumping to conclusions, we will be able to judge him favorably.

We should learn from Korach’s unfortunate mistake, which led to his horrible downfall. All of us should be careful to use both our eyes, judge our fellow friend with favor, and not jump to ridiculous conclusions. By doing this, we will become a nation of Tzaddikim like Moshe and Aharon, the complete opposites of Korach.

Differences in Deaths by Shmuel Garber

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