By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
Korach and his followers sinned, and their punishment was to be swallowed alive by the earth. The Kli Yakar explains this punishment and how, specifically, it was appropriate punishment for what they did wrong.
In Pirkei Avos it says, “Ilmalei mora’ah, ish es rei’eihu chayim bela’o”—were it not for fear (of authority), people would swallow each other alive. Korach and his men did not want any leader; they claimed that because each of us is holy it should be enough that we are united and have Hashem in charge of us.
Moshe was appointed to keep the peace amongst the nation. It was necessary for Korach and his men to be swallowed alive to demonstrate that what they desired can’t be. In order for one man to not swallow his fellow, it is essential to have a leader for everyone to follow. Additionally, they deserved this punishment because they instigated strife and discord, causing people to “swallow each other”; hence, they deserved to be swallowed.
We learn two things from their punishment. First, it is of utmost importance to respect and abide by our religious leaders. They hold our nation together even in this day and age, and they guide us as a link for passing down Torah and mitzvos since Sinai. Showing a lack of respect for their authority and undermining their leadership can only lead to our own downfall.
Secondly, we see how dangerous it is to instigate strife and discord. In our very own homes, we have countless opportunities to exercise caution in this area. The term for a husband is “ish” and a wife is called “ishah,” which in Hebrew are spelled with the same letters except for the yud in “husband” and the hei in “wife”; these two letters together spell the name of Hashem. When there is discord, Hashem distances himself and they are left with the two letters of the word eish, fire. Strife leads only to destruction. In Korach’s case, it was by being swallowed by the ground, and we still see all too often where fighting, arguing, anger, and hatred can lead.
This week, try to take the high path in life when you are faced with confrontation. The way of peace is the way of life, and we should all merit peace, happiness, and many years of life together with our spouses. v
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail email@example.com.