Korah 2005

In this week's Parsha we are taught of the classic case of a machlokes/ dispute, the argument of Korach and his followers. Korach rebelled against Moses, and aroused a group of 250 leaders of the Jews to join him and challenge the authority of Moses to lead the Jewish people. Subsequently, Korach and all his followers were swallowed alive into the ground. The Medrash tells us that one of those who joined the rebellion, On ben Peles, was saved by the reasoning of his wife. “The wisdom of a wife builds her home” (Proverbs 14) this refers to the wife of On ben Peles, who with her wisdom saved her husband. The medrash tells us that she told him a simple argument: “What will you gain from this dispute? If Moses wins he will be the leader if Korach wins, he will be the leader. What is in it for you?”

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz made the following point: Why is this such great wisdom? Isn’t this a most basic logical point- that On ben Peles stood with nothing to gain from this rebellion?

The lesson we see from this is the power of machlokes /dispute. When the fire of an argument rages, even the most basic logical points can’t be assumed to be thought of. It takes a very wise person to be able to think rationally and to avoid getting involved and taking an active role when a dispute rages. The fire of mechlokes burns all; the wise person stays away from that fire.