Parashat Korah-- Numbers 16:1-17:15
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Questions for Young Children
• How does Moshe feel when Korah and his followers yell at Moshe?
• Who does Moshe turn to for help?
• Who do you turn to for help if other kids yell at you?
• After the rebellion and the punishment, God sets up rules about the Kohanim and Levi’im. How can rules help prevent another rebellion?

Questions for Older Children
• What tribe is Korah from? Who is he jealous of?
• Why do you think Moshe stands up against God to save the people who wanted to throw him out of his job?
• God punishes Korah, Datan and Abiram—how? Do you think this will this put an end to rebellions?
• God has one further way to show the Israelites that the Levi’im are a special tribe. What’s different about the staff of the Levi’im? Why another demonstration?

Questions for Teens and Adults
• What’s the reason given for the rebellion of Korah and his followers? What do you think of their logic? What do you think of Moshe’s response?
• Why would God order the fire pans of the 250 rebels to be used as altar plating? In other cases of community sinning like the Golden Calf, there
was no visible remnant of the rebellion.
• The Levi’im and Kohanim are granted a lot of privileges and gifts. What are they denied? Why?

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Create food or a centerpiece based on mateh (tribe or a staff/rod)

  • Dip pretzel rods in chocolate and serve in a glass vase. If you use 12 per vase, you can also cover the number of the tribes.

rsz 12 pretzel sticks 12 tribes copy

  • Cut vegetable sticks and arrange them in groups of 12.  You can serve raw sticks with dip or roast a pound of carrot sticks.


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Revolt! This parasha focuses on the well-known revolt of Korah who challenges the issue of priestly succession. A second revolt is woven into the story. Datan and Abiram lead a civil uprising against Moshe. God shows whose side God is on and the earth swallows the rebels. There is one additional sign that God offers to the Israelites that the Levite tribe will have special duties. Staffs are collected from each tribe and placed in the Tent of Meeting. Only the staff of Aharon sprouts, produces flowers and yields almonds. The displays of God’s power create panic among the Israelites. What if any one of them violates the boundaries of the Tabernacle? God reassures the Israelites that another of the responsibilities of the Levi'im and Kohanim will be to guard the Tabernacle so B’nei Yisrael can worship without fear.

Find the food connection...
וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח

"Korah took...."

--Numbers 16:1a

 וַיֹּצֵא פֶרַח וַיָּצֵץ צִיץ, וַיִּגְמֹל שְׁקֵדִים
"...the staff flowered, produced blossoms, and bore almonds."
--Numbers 17:23b

Ice! Almonds! 
You could make a revolting dinner, but that would defeat the purpose of a Shabbat meal. Instead, I suggest using almonds liberally in your vegetable dish and serving a frozen dessert based on the same letters as Korah’s name. The Hebrew root k-r-h means ice.

The Side Dish

Are there teens at your table or adults who used to be teenagers? This is a good week to discuss your own rebellions. Your children will probably be very interested. If you were a teen in the 1960s, chances are high that you rebelled against someone or something. Do you think all teens need to rebel at some point to grow up? Did 1960s teens rebel more because of the politics of the time? Were any rebels swallowed up during their rebellion in the 1960s? Did any adults at the table rebel against their own parents? How? Why? Was there reconciliation? If you watched a sibling rebel and felt the repercussions, do you remember your emotions and your thoughts?
We venerate Moshe—in Yigdal we sing, "lo kam b’yisrael k’Moshe od"..."No one ever arose in Israel like Moshe". Maimonides is correct that no one like Moshe ever became our leader, but in this parasha three people tried to arise in Israel and topple Moshe’s leadership. Do all leaders look better from historical distance? Did B’nei Yisrael learn anything from the attempted rebellion? Were there rebellions in Jewish History which we now celebrate?

I've just completed facilitating a course called Yesod that prompts up-and-coming Jewish communal leaders to think about leadership issues in a Jewish context.  Clearly, Moshe had help that no current communal leader has--communion with God.  But, Moshe's life as a leader provides countless lessons in leadership. If you remember, not too long ago in the text Moshe was told that two men were prophesying in the camp.  His response--would that more of B'nei Yisrael were prophets.  But in Parashat Korah Moshe knows the threat to his leadership is a threat to the community that he serves, and he recognizes the difference.  Thanks to Erica Brown for the thoughtful and insightful Yesod curriculum and I encourage anyone thinking about leadership to consider Torah and Tanakh texts from that lens.





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A Dash of Genealogy
What happened to the descendants of Korah? One might think they would be blotted out from B’nei Yisrael or lose their Levite privileges. Korah’s family continues to serve in the Tent of Meeting and later in the Temple. Ten of the psalms were composed by sons of Korah. Can you name the prophet descended from Korah? The answer can be found in I Chronicles 6:16.

A Dash of Hebrew
The word mateh means both a staff and a tribe. Think about the dual meaning of the Hebrew word as you read about the staffs of each tribe deposited in the Tent of Meeting overnight. Is there a connection between the two definitions?

A Dash of Modern Biblical Criticism
Many modern Biblical scholars as well as some medieval scholars like Abravanel (d. 1508) believe that Chapter 16—the story of Korah’s rebellion—is a composite of multiple sources. See if you can find some indications in the text that more than one story has been redacted. You can use language as well as content and structural issues to tease out the various sources. One renowned expert on this chapter is Rabbi Jacob Milgrom (1923-2010) and you can research his commentaries.  If this feels like déja vu, you did encounter a redacted narrative in last week's parasha, Sh'lah L'kha. 

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Icy Raspberry-Almond Meringue
Pareve--Serves 10

Ingredients         rsz 05 icy almind raspberry meringue copy

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1-1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 cups Richwhip (or other pareve whipping cream), thawed
  • 2 Tbsp. Amaretto (almond liqueur). You can substitute fruit juice and use almonds only as a garnish.
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 20 oz. frozen raspberries
  • 10 whole almonds and whole, fresh raspberries for garnish


  1. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  2. Beat in sugars until the egg whites are stiff.
  3. Pipe mixture onto ungreased baking sheets in a 9” circle.
  4. Bake @250º for about an hour. Cool and break meringue into pieces. (It’s more difficult to make the meringue on a humid day so check the weather forecast to decide when to do this).
  5. Beat Richwhip until soft peaks form.
  6. Beat in Amaretto and vanilla.
  7. Combine Richwhip mix with meringue pieces and raspberries.
  8. Spoon into lightly oiled 8” springform pan or 10 individual custard dishes and smooth the top.
  9. Freeze at least 6 hrs. before serving.
  10. Garnish with a whole almond and raspberry.



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