Double Fault: Korah 2021

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How would you react if you felt you were unjustly accused of wrongdoing? Would you be quietly confident in your innocence? Or would you defend yourself aggressively?

The Israelites at first blame the death of Korah and his followers on Moses and Aaron, and not on God:

The Pitch: “⁦Next day the whole Israelite community railed against Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘You two have brought death upon the LORD’s people!’” – Numbers 17:6

Swing #1: “[This section of text appears] to justify explicitly the harsh treatment of Korah and his followers by Moses and Aaron.” – Martin Noth, Numbers

Swing #2: “In our verse, Moses wants to make clear that what is ‎going to happen is not something that he had either instigated or ‎hoped for. God Himself, without any contribution by himself or ‎Aaron, had both decreed and executed it.‎” – Kedushat Levi

Swing #3: “The people were not complaining about Korach, Datan and Aviram. On the contrary, they were happy that they died. They were pained about the death of the 250 men, though, and they suspected that Moses and Aaron invented the advice to offer the incense.” – Haamek Davar

Late-Inning Questions: Do Moses and Aaron bear any responsibility for the deaths of Korah and the other rebels? Is it all too convenient for them to blame God, even though God clearly opened the earth to swallow the perpetrators? How often are our problems completely the fault of one party or another?

On-Deck at TBT: I’m excited for the next learners’ service, which focuses on specific aspects of the Shabbat morning service. I recognize that the first one was marred by a Zoom snafu, but we’re going to try again tomorrow, Saturday, June 12th, at 9:30 a.m., and will be accessed through this link.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of aggressive accusations, recent reporting indicates that pitchers are illegally scuffing the baseballs they pitch at an alarming rate. How does this accusation compare to that of the now-proven high rate of steroid use in years past?

Shabbat Shalom!