Topic: Consciousness | Posted:June 5, 2013
Throughout history, the understanding of this week’s portion has been that Korach, because he wanted to become the high priest, along with 250 other Israelites, rose up against Moses. At the end, Korach and those around him are swallowed up by the earth. It’s a very black and white story. Korach -- bad. Moses and Aaron -- good.
Interestingly, however, when you start reading through the commentaries on this week’s portion, you actually see a difference in the way Korach is viewed as time progresses. Whereas the early discussions about Korach are much more negative, the later discussions about Korach become more positive. There’s an interesting and important spiritual reason for this.
In the Gemara, in the Mishnah, for instance, there’s a whole discussion about whether Korach’s soul ever even has a hope for correction. Then, when we start looking into the commentary and discussion amongst the later kabbalists, especially if you look in the writings of the Ari or the students of the Baal Shem Tov, you start seeing a whole new, different Korach. And the reason for this is because we have to understand that Korach’s life did not stop. Even though he physically died in this week’s portion, his soul, just as everybody’s, continues to live on.
Korach has gone through a spiritual process during these thousands of years. The Korach we meet this week, this Shabbat, is not the Korach that we met last year, or the Korach that the scholars of the Gemara and the Mishnah met thousands of years ago.
In fact, our goal on this Shabbat is to make a strong connection to Korach, because this Korach that exists today can be of assistance to us. The idea is that Korach was, actually, an unbelievable soul, and that, as we are about to learn, he did something incredibly positive that most of us would never be willing to do.
Rav Yitzchak of Komarno, a great kabbalist, said Korach knew that although Aaron was the high priest during the time of exile, Korach would be the high priest in the time of Mashiach, the Final Redemption. But Korach didn’t want to wait; he wanted to bring the Redemption right then and there. That was his only desire. Yet because of the falling of the Golden Calf, the Israelites weren’t able or ready. There was too much darkness still left, too many sparks still left on the negative side, and, therefore, Korach did not succeed.
If you start understanding it in this way, you start seeing the portion in a whole different light.
Korach goes to Moses and Aaron, and says we want to try to bring Mashiach now, but Moses tells him it’s not the time and that the chances of him succeeding are very minimal, as there were too many sparks over in the dark side and they will overcome him. Korach says, I don’t care. I am willing to sacrifice and give up everything, and to die physically and spiritually if I don’t succeed.
There’s a beautiful concept in the Talmud that says there are giant souls who say, “I am willing to lose everything to give the world a chance to achieve the Gemar HaTikun, the Final Redemption;” meaning, even if I won’t be able to be there, or that I will have lost everything physically and spiritually when the Gemar HaTikun comes, I am willing to take that chance. That is what Korach is saying.
So truly this is an amazing thing that occurs on this Shabbat. Korach wanted to elevate all the souls that had fallen into darkness, to bring redemption, and to correct the sin of Adam and the Golden Calf.
Hopefully, when you read that, it completely changes Korach. Korach knew what he was doing. He knew that the chance he was going to succeed was very small, but he felt the pain of all those souls that were in the darkness. He felt the pain of the world. He was willing to lose everything, he was willing to die physically to bring the Gemar Tikun.
What he did, very few people throughout history have ever been willing to do. Most of us work hard, but how many of us would say, although I’m probably going to fail, I am willing to give up my life for the chance to end pain, suffering, and death in this world?
Look at the work you do and then compare it to what Korach was willing to do. It’s not about us trying to find ways to push when we’re not supposed to. It’s about looking at what we give up or sacrifice. And although we are not meant to sacrifice like Korach, we have to be getting to that space somewhere between where we are and where Korach is. And one of the great gifts we can receive from Korach on this Shabbat is a tremendous reawakening of the desire and strength to sacrifice for the Gemar HaTikun.
Korach was willing to sacrifice, and he lost it all. He fell spiritually to the lowest levels and was swallowed up by the earth. And since then, throughout time, he’s been elevating higher and higher; because we are getting closer to the Gemar HaTikun, chances are Korach has elevated much higher up - maybe even higher than where he was to begin with.
Yes, Korach fell and lost everything. But that’s not what we want to connect to. We don’t want to draw from his failure. We want to connect to his willingness to sacrifice and lose everything. The biggest question we have to ask ourselves this Shabbat, therefore, is how much Korach do I have in me? How close am I getting in my willingness to sacrifice and give up physicality and Desire to Receive for the Self Alone in order to bring the Final Redemption?
When we start seeing Korach now, it’s not a sad story where people just had egos and tried to diminish Moses. We see it instead as an unbelievably uplifting story.