Parshas Korach – The Staff of Aharon

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In this week’s Parsha, Korach leads a rebellion against Moshe. Within this revolt, there are two aspects. One part is the rejection of the leadership of Moshe. The second aspect is the desire to remove the institution of Cehuna. Since the sin of the Eigel, the right to serve in the Mishkon and bring Korbanos was taken from the first born and given over to the Aharon and his descendants. This lead to dissent among those Bechorim who were deprived of what they saw as their prerogative. That is why within the rebellion of Korach, there were two hundred and fifty leaders of the nation, who also rebelled. But they were mostly Bechorim[1], and they had a different agenda. They wanted the privilege to bring Korbanos and serve in the Mishkon returned to them.

After Korach, Dasan, and Aviram are swallowed by the earth[2]; these two hundred and fifty leaders are burnt[3], and those complained against what happened are killed in a plague[4]; there is still murmuring against HaShem[5]. HaShem then commands Moshe to enact one last sign, as proof to the truth of the Cehuna of Aharon. He is to take a staff of wood from each Shevet and place them in the Mishkon. Of all those, the one which will flower is a sign of HaShem’s choice of that Shevet. The staff of Aharon flowers and that is proof of the Cehuna of Aharon. That staff is then permanently placed in the Kodesh HaKodoshim as an eternal testimony to the Cehuna of Aharon.

Why of all the different rebellions in the Midbar, only here there needs to be permanent reminder? Even after everything that already took place, there was a need for the sign of the Mateh, that proved to everyone that Aharon was the designated Cohen of HaShem.

In addition, of all the various possible miracles, why was this specific sign chosen? And why was it permanently places in the Kodesh HaKodoshim, as a perpetual sign of the Cehuna?

The Midrash teaches us two things about this Mateh.  First[6], the staffs were all fashioned from the same piece of timber. It was not that each Shevet had its own national tree and that is what they used. What actually happened was that Moshe took one piece of wood, and divided it into twelve. So the Mateh of each Shevet was actually exactly the same as every other Shevet. In addition[7], at the end of the process, Aharon’s staff consumed all the others. This is reminiscent of what took place by the palace of Pharaoh where the same miracle took place. Why did these two miracles take place here?

If the goal is to remove the grievances of Klal Yisroel, there needs to be some kind of connection between the two aspects of the Mateh and their complaint. It needs to show in some way that the Cohanim were not an exclusive club, that was created for their behalf, but an integral part of Klal Yisroel.

The miraculous flowering of the Mateh is based on a fundamental aspect of the Mishkon and Bais HaMikdosh. The Bais HaMikdash is called Bais Chayienu – the palace of our life. Everything in the Bais Hamikdosh is alive. To the extent that even a golden vine that seemed to be only a decorative flourish, actually grew grapes. The source of this seems to be in the incident here.  The inanimate staff of wood grows fruit.

That is why the Mateh of Aharon swallows the other staffs. It is alive as opposed to the others. This is similar to the same idea we see by the sign of the Mateh before Pharaoh. The Egyptians claimed that they were a source of existence that did not need HaShem. They can take an innominate object and give it life. The magicians can take their staffs and turn them into living breathing snakes.

But Aharon’s Mateh is greater. His Mateh even when seemingly dead can swallow their Mateh. His Mateh is a source of life. In general, that which is alive consumes that which is not. That is then taken and used as fuel for the sustenance. Klal Yisroel when we leave Mitzrayim take the sparks of Kedushah and life that are in Egypt, and remove them to sue them for ourselves. As the Pasuk says[8], “The way you have seen Egypt today, you will never see them again.” We take all the life from them. That is why there is an Isuur to return to Mitzrayim. There is nothing to go back for[9].

The opposite takes place in the dream of Pharaoh. The seeming life that they receive during the seven years of good are consumed by the famine. Nothing remains; it is all swallowed up. Unless they follow the instructions of Yosef, nothing remains from the overabundance of life that they receive.

So too the Cohen. He is not above everyone else. He is only a product of Klal Yisroel. The Sfas Emes explains this idea[10]. The responsibility of the Beis Din of Klal Yisroel to ensure the Kedusha of the Cohen is because the Kedusha of the Cohen is derived from the Kedusha of Klal Yisroel.

So too the Halacha that a Cohen Gadol needs to be wealthier has all the other Cohanim. If he is not, then it is their responsibility to give him money so he is. This is from the same idea. This is also a way to understand the idea of the twenty-four gifts the Cohanim receive. That could be another level of understanding why these are the culmination of Parshas Korach. They are a continuation of the miracle of the Mateh.

That is the same concept that all the staffs came from the same piece of tree. They all begin from the same tree and are brought back to one entity. In one level, when you take something which is broken apart and then reattached it can be stronger than it originally was. That is the rejoining of the staffs of the different Shevatim.

In the same Midrash that the Mateh came from one tree. there are two other opinions. One is that the Mateh is the one of Yehudah that he gave Tamar. That is then used as the Mateh of Aharon. The other is that it is the Mateh of Moshe. These opinions are saying that the Cehunah is not something that exists separate from the other aspects of Klal Yisroel. The three crowns of Cehunah, Malchus and Torah derive from each other. They are not competing levels, but complementary. They are all part of one entity.

That is why there are different parts of the staff. There are flowers, fruits, and leaves. So too in Klal Yisroel, there are all the different aspects. But together they create a complete whole. The Rebbe Reb Bunim of Peshishcha said that in the future every person who jealous of someone else’s life will see the complete burden that everyone had. Then they will return and take back their own lot. Here too, when Moshe brought out the staffs, each one took back his own.

That is why there was a need for a final sign. The issue here is something general. In Klal Yisroel, there is a division of labor. We are not the same, but each person in their unique Avodah. That then creates a complete whole. There is not uniformity, but unity. That is the final lesson of the events of this Parsha.

[1] אבן עזרא על במדבר פרק טז פסוק א – ואלה נשיאי העדה היו בכורים והם היו מקריבים את העולות על כן לקחו חתות והראיה על זה הפירוש מופת המטה שראו כל ישראל כי השם בחר שבט לוי תחת הבכורים-

[2] במדבר פרק טז – (לב) וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת פִּיהָ וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת בָּתֵּיהֶם וְאֵת כָּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר לְקֹרַח וְאֵת כָּל הָרְכוּשׁ:

[3] במדבר פרק טז – (לה) וְאֵשׁ יָצְאָה מֵאֵת יְדֹוָד וַתֹּאכַל אֵת הַחֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם אִישׁ מַקְרִיבֵי הַקְּטֹרֶת:

[4] במדבר פרק יז – (יד) וַיִּהְיוּ הַמֵּתִים בַּמַּגֵּפָה אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר אֶלֶף וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת מִלְּבַד הַמֵּתִים עַל דְּבַר קֹרַח:

[5] במדבר פרק יז – (כ) וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אֶבְחַר בּוֹ מַטֵּהוּ יִפְרָח וַהֲשִׁכֹּתִי מֵעָלַי אֶת תְּלֻנּוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר הֵם מַלִּינִם עֲלֵיכֶם:

[6] מדרש רבה במדבר – פרשה יח – (כג) ומטה אהרן יש אומרים הוא המטה שהיה ביד יהודה שנא’ ומטך אשר בידך וי”א הוא המטה שהיה ביד משה מעצמו פרח שנא’ והנה פרח מטה אהרן ואית דאמרי נטל משה קורה אחת וחתכה לשנים עשר נסרים ואומר להם – כולכם מקורה אחת טלו מקלכם

[7] בעל הטורים על שמות פרק ז פסוק יב – (יב) מטותם – ב’. ויבלע מטה אהרן את מטותם. ומטה אהרן בתוך מטתם מדבר יז, כא). איתא במדרש שגם במעשה קרח בלע מטה אהרן מטותם וכשהוציאו אז חזר ופלטם ולכך לא הוציאו – – פרח. וע”כ כתיב (שם שם, כד) ויוצא משה את כל המטת, חסר, לפי שבלעם:

[8] ספר שמות פרק יד – (יג) וַיֹּאמֶר משֶׁה אֶל הָעָם אַל תִּירָאוּ הִתְיַצְּבוּ וּרְאוּ אֶת יְשׁוּעַת יְדֹוָד אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה לָכֶם הַיּוֹם כִּי אֲשֶׁר רְאִיתֶם אֶת מִצְרַיִם ַיּוֹם לֹא תֹסִפוּ לִרְאֹתָם עוֹד עַד עוֹלָם:-

[9] אור החיים על בראשית פרק כח פסוק ה – שהשעבוד הוא לברר הניצוצות של הקדושה שבתוך הקליפה ובכנענים אין בהם ניצוץ קדוש לרדת אחריו בגלות ותמצא כי מצרים אשר ניתרוקנה מהניצוצות כאומרם ז”ל (ברכות ט:) לא יצאו ישראל עד שעשאוה כמצודה שאין בה דגן וכמצולה שאין בה דגים, דכתיב וינצלו את מצרים (שמות יב לו), צוה ה’ לבל יבאו שמה, וכמבואר הטעם בדברי האר”י ז”ל

[10] ספר שפת אמת – ויקרא – פרשת אמור – שנת [תרל”ז] – בפסוק וקדשתו כו’. פי’ שקדושת הכהנים תלוי בקדושת בנ”י שצריכין להתקדש אף מי שא”י להיות קדוש ממש אעפ”כ מעט קדושה שלו מוסיף כח לזה האיש המיוחד לקדושה להתקדש כראוי. וכ”כ הכהן הגדול מאחיו. דרשו חז”ל גדלהו משל אחיו והוא כדברינו הנ”ל והבן:

One thought on “Parshas Korach – The Staff of Aharon

  1. thanks. please upload at

    On Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 4:49 AM Torah Thoughts from Rabbi Zave Rudman wrote:

    > rzave posted: “Download as Word In this week’s Parsha, Korach leads a > rebellion against Moshe. Within this revolt, there are two aspects. One > part is the rejection of the leadership of Moshe. The second aspect is the > desire to remove the institution of Cehuna. Since th” >

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