These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on June 24, 2011 by Barer

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[Cross-posted from my blog, where you can find a parsha haiku every week]

Reading this week’s parsha with Rashi brought up an interesting point for me, one to do with how the early commentators read the text more than with the topic of this week’s parsha specifically (the haiku reflects the theme of the parsha).  Rashi goes out of his way to defend Korach (see 16:7) and this is striking for a few reasons.  First, because the text itself does not present a positive picture of him, as he is the ringleader of the rebellious group that challenges Moshe and Aharon, creating further strife in the camp shortly after the episode of the spies.  Second, Rashi makes no similar effort to defend Datan and Aviram, the other named leaders of the rebellion.  Finally, this is in stark contrast to other figures like Yishmael and Eisav, which Rashi purposefully depicts as worse than the text makes them out to be.  So the question remains: what did Korach symbolize for Rashi that he felt the need to defend him beyond what the text seems to suggest?

Challenge leadership
For your own selfish purpose
Earthquakes to follow