How do we know this? Korach, a veteran politician, used ideological terminology. But two other Jews stood alongside him in leading the rebellion: Datan and Aviram. They did not try to hide their agenda and spoke to Moses shamelessly: ?Is it not enough that you have brought us out of a land flowing with milk. You have not even brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey, nor have you given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards?? (Numbers 16, 13-14). Notice the use made by Datan and Aviram of the phrase ?land flowing with milk? ? the term God uses to describe the Promised Land of Israel. But Datan and Aviram use it to describe Egypt! Yes, the land where the Children of Israel were humiliated slaves and from which God liberated them, now became, in the words of the rebels, the land for which they yearned.
Thus, Datan and Aviram revealed their motivation openly. Though Korach, who was shrewd, used basic claims to get the rebellion going, his goal was the same.
But Korach erred even in his basic claim. When he and his supporters approached Moses and Aaron, they claimed the following, “You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy?So why do you raise yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” (Ibid, Ibid 3). These words sound positive, but they contain a basic error. At the end of the previous portion which we read last Shabbat, similar words were written but were said by God. To understand Korach?s mistake, we must discern the differences between the two statements. God?s words are, ?So that you shall remember and perform all My commandments and you shall be holy to your God? (Ibid, 15, 40).
The difference between ?are all holy? and ?you shall be holy? is conveyed by the question: Have we reached our destination? Korach claimed that the Jewish nation had already reached its intended destination and thus ?the entire congregation are all holy?, but God reveals to us that we are still in the process of reaching this destination and therefore must make the effort to become holy.
The difference between someone who is consciously striving to reach a destination and someone who is convinced he has already attained his goal is very significant. The consciousness of the road carries an obligation that motivates the person to make an effort to reach his destination; the consciousness of having attained one?s goal causes a person to rest on his laurels and allow himself to degenerate morally.
Moses teaches us that on Mount Sinai, we didn?t get an automatic ?promotion?, but a mission to be accomplished, a destination to strive for. But Korach tries to convince us that the destination has already been reached and that we have time to deal in politics?
The Jewish nation has been walking a long road, for thousands of years. The road has been tortuous and intricate, but our forefathers walked it with devotion and left us a heritage and a command to continue on it. A famous slogan says, ?The eternal nation does not fear a long road.? Indeed, we must be proud of the many generations who walked this road courageously. At the same time, we must remember that we have not yet reached our destination. The command ?and you shall be holy? still echoes and obligates us to strive to accomplish the mission that every Jew shares – to continue courageously walking the road our forefathers walked, with the hope that the goal of being a holy nation can be achieved.