This week’s parsha is Korach , covering Numbers 16:1-18:32. It is all about deciding when to challenge authority and when to do as told.
Korach is a proper noun ( a Hebew name that translates to “ice, frost, or baldness”) attributed to a Levite who rallied the community against Moses and Aaron. Now the brothers had G-d on their side, offering to rectify the situation by smiting the whole bunch, but the brothers pleaded against the suggestion of having the entire community annihilated.
In deference to their request, G-d instructed the community to move away from the tents of Korach and his followers, and to wait to see what fate befell them. They were told that if the Korachians died of a natural cause, it meant that Moses was a liar, but, if the Earth opened up to swallow them, then it would prove that G-d did send Moses to speak to the people. And behold, Moses finished a sentence just as the earth opened wide and gulp….. Goodbye Korach.
In this parsha, Moses was also instructed to collect staffs from the 12 Chieftans, and to have them inscribed (specifically with Aaron’s name on the Levi staff) and placed at the Tent of the Meeting. Within a day of being placed, Moses noticed that Aaron’s staff sprouted, flowered, and bore a crop of almonds. Tasty! And nutritious.
Korach also contains one of those famous disagreements between Shammai and Hillel, this time on the grounds of conversion, in which the latter once again was proved to be correct.
Translation via JTS:http://learn.jtsa.edu/content/translations/korah/torah-portion/korah
Sources of commentary:
Rabbi Ted Falcon: http://www.rabbitedfalcon.com/weekly-focus/
Candle lighting time for South Whidbey is 8:54 with havdalah at 10:02.