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Dvar Torah - Korach

This week's Parsha features what is, perhaps, the most famous rebellion again Moshe's authority in the Torah, the rebellion of Korach. In it, Korach assembles 250 notables from the Jewish people, in addition to Datan, Aviram, and On, the son of Pelet from the tribe of Reuven. He leads them in a revolt against the authority G-d has given Moshe and Aharon to govern the worldly and spiritual affairs of the Jewish people, falsely claiming that Moshe usurped that authority for himself and his brother without divine fiat. When they approach, Moshe suggests that they ought to test the proposition that someone more worthy than himself and Aharon might lead the community by bringing incense as an offering in pans the next morning. If Hashem wants someone else, He can make it known by accepting their offering. He also warns the rebels that they are engaging in dangerous conduct and might not survive.

The following day, when the rebels appear with their incense offerings, Hashem tells Moshe that He will kill them for their presumption. Moshe immediately falls on his face and begs G-d for respite for the 250 rebels. He says that G-d should only punish Korach. However, Hashem is unwavering and punishes all the insurgents.

Why did Hashem need to punish everyone? The 250 men were misled. Does that not count in their favour (relative to Korach, who told them lies and started the rebellion)? Apparently, after Moshe's initial warning, those men took responsibility for the consequences of their actions. They knew what they were doing, and they did it anyway.

Today, we often hear about how someone is not responsible for their actions. Sometimes we even tell ourselves we bear no responsibility for a poor outcome. However, if we were more willing to accept that we have a great deal of control over our fate, we would be more likely to get the outcome we want. The Torah here tells us that when we do something, we cannot pass responsibility onto someone else who suggested we do it or who created circumstances where we "had to”, For ill or for good, we are our own masters.

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