Varying Leadership by Gilad Barach

(2006/5766) Parshat Korach’s main feature is Korach’s
rebellion against Moshe’s leadership.  Ibn Ezra notes that
this rebellion seemingly parallels the Cheit HaEigel in
several ways.  Most importantly, both occurrences contain
a group’s outspoken desire to replace leaders.  During the
Cheit HaEigel, Bnei Yisrael wanted to find a communal
replacement for Moshe, because they feared that he had
died on Har Sinai.  In rebuking Korach for his accusations,
Moshe stated (Bemidbar 16:10), “UVikashtem Gam
Kehuna,” “And you also desired the Kehunah,” which had
been exclusively Aharon’s.  Another similarity is relevance
of the firstborns.  Due to their part in Cheit HaEigel, the
firstborns lost the privilege of serving in the Beit
HaMikdash, which was given instead to the Leviim (see
Devarim 10:9).  Immediately after the first Avodah in the
Mishkan, the first Avodah done by Leviim, Korach (himself
a Bechor) and 250 other Bechorim led this revolt. 
Therefore, the theme of leadership appears in both the
Cheit HaEigel and Korach’s rebellion through leaders and
firstborns, the challenged and the challenging.






The exact actions that Moshe and Aharon take in
both incidents are also parallel.  Moshe smashed the Luchot
when he saw the Maaseh HaEigel, without receiving any
instruction from Hashem.  When facing Korach, he declared,
also without any Nevuah from Hashem, that the earth would
open up and swallow Korach.  In both instances, Moshe was
quick and harsh in his response.
Aharon, on the other hand, was much lighter and
more patient in each case.  He pretended to go along with
the Cheit HaEigel, trying to procrastinate until Moshe would
come to Bnei Yisrael’s rescue.  Similarly, when a plague
threatened Bnei Yisrael after Korach’s rebellion, the Torah
states, “Vayaamod Bein HaMeitim UVein HaChaim,
VaTei’atzar HaMageifah,” “And [Aharon] stood between the
dead and the living, and the plague stopped” (Bemidbar
17:13).  Aharon was more concerned with stopping the
catastrophe from spreading than with punishing those who
started it.  Hashem spoke fondly of Aharon for his actions,
and made his staff the only one to flower and blossom in the
Pesukim following his actions.
What makes a leader?  Is it better for a leader to
care for individuals and be more tolerant, or is it more
important to be very strict in keeping rules and protecting
their sanctity?  Modern history has shown no definitive
answer, and using our new understanding of Moshe’s and
Aharon’s different styles of leadership, we can see why. 
Both approaches to power have roots in the two greatest
leaders of Bnei Yisrael.  There is no clear winner between
the choices.  Obviously, it is best for a leader to balance both
compassion and firmness, but, quite frequently, the resulting
courses of action are mutually exclusive.  The best setup,
therefore, seems to be to have two different leaders, like
Moshe and Aharon, acting in their own natural ways which
collectively form a cohesive unit of power.

Snake on a stick by Benjy Lebowitz

A Positive Spin by Avi Levinson