“It is too much for you, sons of Levi!” Bemidbar (Numbers) 16:7
That was Moshe’s response in this week’s Torah portion (Parashah Korach – Numbers 16-18) as Korach and his followers tried to stage a coup and claim the priesthood for themselves.
At this point in the Torah, HaShem had already separated out the House of Aharon as the Priesthood (Kohanim), the rest of the Tribe of Levi as the Temple Workers (Leviim), and the rest of Israel to be the Priests of humanity (Israel).
In his rebuke to Korach, Moshe points out that Korach and his Levite brothers were already the chosen among the chosen. While HaShem had separated Israel from the nations, choosing them to guard His Torah, he then specially separated out the Levites and chose them for the Temple service. Then, HaShem separated out the House of Aharon from the Levites and chose them to be the priests in His Temple. This is what Korach was after.
You see, Korach lost sight of the precious gift that HaShem had already carved out for him. Korach distracted himself from fulfilling his own obligations and became obsessed with the obligations of others. Korach disrespected the distinctions between Israel, Levite, and Kohen, berating Moshe and Aharon, saying, “It is too much for you! For the entire assembly – all of them are holy and HaShem is among them; why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of HaShem?”
And, as we know, his jealous pining for the office of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) cost him his life. And it nearly cost the lives of the entire nation of Israel as well, because even though HaShem upheld Aharon’s status as the Kohen Gadol, through signs and wonders, Israel bought into the lies of Korach and his followers and turned on Moshe and Aharon! They had become infected with Korach’s idea that Moshe and Aharon had stolen something that belonged to them – the “holiness” which they felt they were rightfully entitled to. So, once again, HaShem had to take very drastic measures to clear up the misunderstanding and explain in unmistakably clear terms everyone’s place within the nation of Israel.
And, in this, lies a profound message for us as Noahides.
We too must learn to love and respect the path that HaShem has laid out for us. We must guard ourselves from over-zealously chasing after mitswoth that are not our birthright, and should be zealous of our own obligations! Why do Noahides know all 39 forms of work forbidden on the Shabbath, but know nothing of the detailed laws of wages and property rights (1)Falls under the prohibition against theft.? Why do Noahides quibble over the details of Jewish head-coverings, but know nothing of the laws of personal injury, self-defense, and stopping a rodeph (2)Falls under the prohibition against murder.? Why do Noahides know how to set up a chuppah and hang a mezzuzah, but know nothing of the laws of marriage and adultery (3)Falls under the prohibition against illicit sex.? Why do Noahides know the intricate minutia of the laws of Kashruth, but can’t identify which animals are excluded from the prohibition against eating the limb of a living animal (4)Hint: It only includes animals which are categorized as chayoth and behemoth.? I can count on one hand the number of Noahide scholars who have studied any of our laws in great detail to be able to answer all of the above. And, sadly, even I am not one of them – even I get distracted from my obligation and covet what is not mine.
But, this week I heard the words of Moshe to Korach for myself, as if he was saying, “Hear now, O offspring of Noach! Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from all living creatures to draw you near to Himself, to make you in His own image, and to set you as the crown of His creation? He gave you dominion over all of the earth to partner with Him in completing creation – yet you hold this gift as valueless and seek the priesthood instead?”
I have resolved myself against following the stubborn and destructive path of Korach, and will pursue the path that Hashem has laid out for me as a Noahide.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||Falls under the prohibition against theft.|
|2.||↑||Falls under the prohibition against murder.|
|3.||↑||Falls under the prohibition against illicit sex.|
|4.||↑||Hint: It only includes animals which are categorized as chayoth and behemoth.|