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Korach aided by Datan and Aviram lead a rebellion against Moshe’s legitimacy and authority. The challenge to Moshe’s rightful G-D appointed leadership was so dramatic that the rebels’ fate was something unprecedented (see BaMidbar 16:29-30). The magnitude of the challenge and its aftermath almost obscures what happened after the Rebels met their fate.
The next day the nation confronted Aaron and Moshe declaring “ . . . You have killed the people of the L-rd.” (BaMidbar 17:6) . A plague came through Bene Yisrael’s encampment (see 17:10) Remarkably Aaron at Moshe’s direction took some of the Ketureth, incense and ran in the middle of the nation’s encampment and “ . . . he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped.” (see 17:12-13). Rashi ZT’L ZY’A commenting on 17:13 quotes a debate between Aaron and the Angel of destruction assignedto bring the plague. Aaron argued successfully that the Angel assigned to visit the plague would truly be fulfilling G-D’s will by stopping the plague as per Moshe’s demand. Aaron argued Moshe only acts in accordance with G-D’s will and indeed Moshe and G-D were in dialogue at that moment.
Additionally Rashi comments that Moshe instructed Aaron to achieve atonement for the nation through the Ketureth. The people believed the Ketureth was deadly in nature “And there came out a fire from the L-rd, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who offered incense.” (16:35).Moshe told Aaron to use the Ketureth as the means of effecting atonement demonstrating its healing capacity.
The imagery is vivid Aaron heroically rushes in and contends with an Angel of destruction where did Aaron find the wherewithal to act fearlessly?
The Ohr HaChaim ZT’L ZY’A offers an insight that combines the the ideas advanced by Rashi. The Ketureth was simultaneously acting as the reason behind the plague and also the foundation of the atonement that arrested the plague’s spread. Why? to convey a fundamental lesson of faith it is the nature of Keturethitself is irrelevant,rather what matters is recognizing G-D is the source of everything. Aaron as a person of faith understood life and death do not belong to the Ketureth but rest solely A-mighty G-D.
Aaron knows the Angel’s power also comes only from G-D.Therefore Aaron had no place for fear in confronting the destructive angel. Aaron was not merely rushing in without any forethought. Aaron’s faith was that empowering, there are no obstacles.
Once one knows one’s thoughts, speech and actions reflect G-D’s will and who’s faith transcends the limitations imposed by time and space. A world view informed by faith is not reckless but it is courageous. A person filled with faith can lead unswayed by popular opinion or the public’s approval. A faithful leader can lead without fear. This Shabbat marks the 18th anniversary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneursin ZTVK’L. ZY’A’s passing. The Rebbe first and foremost was a leader who was at ease with world leaders and small children. The Rebbe exuded a sense that all things were open to him . The Rebbe was able to see in Prime Minister Netanyahu early in his career to speak truth to power in the United Nations. Rebbe was deeply concerned about and on behalf of any Jew. All the elements of the Rebbe’s character stem from a single source, faith.
Faith emunah raises one beyond constraints and limits to a place without fear or hesitation enabling one to wrestle with angels if necessary.