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Jun 22, 2006

Who really appointed Aharon

I do not normally do this. I have taken a post out of my Torah blog and posted it here as well. The readership on this blog is greater than on the Torah blog so I wanted to present this piece to a wider readership in my search for an answer.. The reason I did so is because this question is really bothering me and I do not have an adequate answer for it. It touches on issues of faith and basics of Judaism, so I felt comfortable including it here as well.

Parshat Korach

Korach had a dispute with Moshe as to who should lead the Jewish nation. He specifically was claiming the right to be Kohen Gadol for himself. We are told by Rashi and the Midrashim that his claim was based on what he felt was a personal slight.
Korach felt that he was skipped over for the Nesius (president or governor perhaps) position of the Kehas tribe in the Levite tribe. How so? Kehas had 4 sons. The eldest was Amram and his two sons took the first two positions, Moshe the leader and Aharon the Kohen Gadol. Next was Yitzhar and his children should have been appointed to the next positions in the food chain of power – the nesius of Kehas. That should then have gone to, so Korach felt, Korach, him being the eldest of Yitzhar’s children. Yet he was not appointed to the position. He was passed over and the job was given to Elitzafan the son of Uziel who was the youngest son of the 4 brothers. He came to claim the Nesius, and once he was making a claim, he changed it to the Kehuna, so he was basically questioning the validity of Moshe’s appointments, based on what he recognized as a bad appointment.
The argument between them proceeds as we all know and the rest of the story is history. In 16:15 after Moshe comes up and presents the terms of the challenge to find out who would be the Kohen, he is then angered by Dasan and Aviram who refuse to come before him for a conciliatory meeting. He turns to God and says a short prayer. He says do not accept their minchot – do not accept the korban they will bring.
I do not understand the purpose of this prayer. Assuming what we believe is true, that Moshe made all his appointments based on the command of Hashem, and nothing involved was personal, what was he davening for? He knew his appointments had been directed by God and by definition Hashem would only accept Aharon’s korban, and would not accept Dasan, Avirams or any of the other 250 people involved in the dispute! Hashem could not because they would have been bringing the korban inappropriately and would have to be killed like Nadav and Avihu had been killed. I understand why the people went ahead with it. They doubted Moshe and were challenging him. I do not understand Moshe – just by the very nature of his position and actions, he should have been confident of his victory over this uprising. Why would he feel the need to offer a special prayer for his victory?
Yes, I know Rashi says he was referring to other korbanos – not to accept any of the korbanos presented by these people, but that is hard to swallow as an answer – Moshe knew they were all about to be killed and would not be offering any more korbanot. It could be Rashi was bothered by the same question and felt the need to explain it referring to other korbanot, but I think that is an insufficient answer to my question.
If you have any suggestions and possible answers, please post it in the comments, or email me at Israeli.jew@gmail.com – this question has been disturbing me for a few days now and I have not thought of a satisfactory answer.


  1. A simple thougth that maybe the lesson is only for us that we should daven to hashem for every little thing even if it seemingly seems to be the will of hashem in any case. Even if hashem had directed Moshe in this still he is so connected to hashem that his first gut is to daven to hashem despite that hashem told him to do so.

  2. maybe. does nto seem so clear cut. A guy like Moshe follwoing his gut feeling?
    We see times that Moshe was told not to daven.. why now was it ok?
    Sounds ok but not clear yet. qwill think some more. thanks

  3. When I say gut I mean natural. Nothing wrong with natural feeling to daven it's a spiritual gut feeling. Hashem did not say not to daven at this point so why not. I knew you wouldn't be satisfied with my answer. I know it isn't so clear. I just gave it a shot.

  4. A few thoughts:

    1. Who says Moshe prayed? From the peshat it actually looks as if he's commanding God, so to speak, not to accept their offers. This would go well with your assumption that Moshe knew for certain he was right.

    2. R. Behayey explains that Moshe is pre-empting a possible repentance from the side of Data and Aviram, and asking God not to accept their korban of repentance, even if they try to atone for their sins.

    3. A leader should always be careful about his ways and even the most righteous leader should fear that he mistakingly wronged someone. Moshe gives a reason for what he is asking from God: "I have not taken one donkey from them" (one is reminded of Shmuel's words to the people when they ask him to appoint a king). So Moshe here is saying: even in case I did wronged these people inadvertently, please do not count it against me and do not accept their offers.

    Vetzarich iyun...

  5. social - dont worry abou tit. it was ok, just does not feel complete.. thanks for the suggestion..

    sharvul - 1. does not seem relevant. That could be considered a form of prayer..

    2. I like this idea. it might be a good answer..

    3. good point.
    Thanks for coming in and taking the time to comment.


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