After all the rebellions and unrest Moses has recently suffered, he must have needed a good Shabbat. The number and intensity of the revolt has been enough to drive any leader to despair. First of all, the food is not good enough. Next, Aaron and Miriam complain. That must have been a real shock to their unassuming brother, who has consistently honoured both of them. Then the spies’ fearful reports provoke the people to turn against him and demand another leader. No sooner has Moses interceded yet again for them than they rebel the other way and insist on mounting an attack, despite Moses’ plea for them to remain still. And now Korach starts one of the most evil rebellions of all, clothed in the words of equality but, in fact, embodying envy, greed and the lust for power. Surely, the destruction of Korach and his fellow conspirators is enough, but no, the people begin to grouse again, this time claiming that Moses has “killed God’s people!” On this occasion, Aaron saves the people. Only a demonstration by God, who makes Aaron’s staff burst into leaf and blossom, puts an end to the spate of almost continuous revolt. We are not told how Moses, and Aaron and Miriam for that matter, spent their Shabbats, but the one that came after the Korach episode must have seemed particularly blessed.
Unfortunately, the spirit of revolt is not completely quelled, and the next episode will lead to Moses and Aaron themselves losing the right to enter the promised land. The parsha of Chukkat does not end badly, however. The people finally discover courage and burst into song when they next come across water. There is also the little matter of the red heifer to consider, and to consider it more deeply, come along on Saturday at 10:30, when Pat Lipert will lead us once again.