Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Korach had to die an unnatural death; otherwise his death wouldn't prove Moshe right, because a natural death could be because his time had come. But why did he have to still stay alive after being buried which was something new and had never been before or since? The wording of the Torah is 'chaim sheolo'. Meaning alive in the grave. If it just meant being buried alive and dying later there would be no point in the chumash mentioning it. In all earthquakes which this was people are buried alive and die later.

share|improve this question
    
Source for "he [had] to still stay alive after being buried"? –  msh210 Jun 2 '13 at 8:10
    
The source is the simple translation of the chumash. –  expern Jun 2 '13 at 16:45
    
I gave a possible answer before that otherwise Samuel would not have been able to be a prophet. –  expern Jun 2 '13 at 17:21
    
your answer about Shmuel being a prophet is an incorrect recollection of the midrash. the midrash in Tanchuma is that Korach's sons survived, not Korach himself. but Korach saw incorrectly and thought he himself would survive. see here: parsha.blogspot.com/2004/12/… –  josh waxman Jun 2 '13 at 20:11
    
the midrash: "And Korach, who was an intelligent person, what did he see that led him to this nonsense? Rather, his eye misled him. He saw the chain of greatness coming from him: Shmuel who is measured against Moshe and Aharon... And he {Korach} did not see well, for his sons did repentance {and did not perish} and {the future great ones} were established from them. " –  josh waxman Jun 2 '13 at 20:13
add comment

3 Answers

Hayom Yom, 26 Sivan:

"They went down to the pit alive" - even in the grave they think they are alive.

There is a blessing contained in "They went down to the pit alive," as with "the sons of Korach did not die," - "a place was established for them and they repented." For teshuva, repentance, is effective only while one is still alive. This, then, is the blessing - that even in the pit they will live, and they will be able to effect teshuva.

According to the first paragraph, then, they may not indeed have been alive after their descent - but they were so spiritually degraded that they didn't realize that they had been discredited. According to the second paragraph - on the contrary, it means that there is still hope for them. (Possibly, these two explanations reflect the argument about whether Korach's group lost their place in olam haba (R. Akiva in Sanhedrin 108a and 109b) or not (R. Eliezer in 108a, R. Yehudah ben Beseira in 109b).)

share|improve this answer
    
This is only taken from a website and I cant agree. What you mean is that they were kept alive to be able to do tshuva which his sons did. First of all why should Korach be given this special privilege. Second of all according to the gemoro he is still shouting Moshe is correct and I am a 'liar', So he has done tshuva and was still not 'brought' up from his grave. –  expern Jun 2 '13 at 19:09
    
This is not about Korach. This is specifically about the sons of Korach. Because we see in Tehillim that certain Tehillim were composed by them. מזמור לבני קרח. But it is not Datan and Aviram, and not Korach himself. Also it is not 'only taken from a website'. This is a translation from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zatzal, and in turn he is getting it from the gemara in Megillah 14a. –  josh waxman Jun 2 '13 at 19:55
    
@expern, that's exactly it: they have done teshuvah, but it is incomplete - every month they are made to see their mistake over again and to do teshuvah for it at a more intense level. This is something we don't find with other resha'im. –  Alex Jun 2 '13 at 20:56
    
@joshwaxman, it may well include Korach himself. If Rabbah bar bar Chana describes (be it literally or metaphorically) hearing "the ones swallowed up with Korach" speaking from Gehinnom, then logically that can't include the sons - they'd have been long out of there by RbbC's times, no? –  Alex Jun 2 '13 at 20:57
    
@Alex, it depends on which midrashim one combines together. once you include the midrash based on ובני קרח לא מתו, this is that the sons of Korach did not die, but Korach himself did die. Midrash Tanchuma (mentioned in my comment above) makes this explicit. In Sanhedrin 110a, RbbC's statement is juxtaposed to ובני קרח לא מתו, that a place was set aside in Gehinnom, from where they sang shira. the implication being that they were indeed the sons of Korach in RbbC's statement. If we do not combine the midrashim, perhaps the dead are singing from Gehinnom. –  josh waxman Jun 2 '13 at 22:10
add comment

The pesukim in question (Bemidbar 16:30, 33) are most explicitly about Datan and Aviram, not necessarily about Korach. He might have been burned by the fire, or even both.

But the question you asked could be asked just as well about Datan and Aviram.

Sheol is the grave. And perhaps also the underworld in Biblical Hebrew at this stage.

But the simple peshat in the pasuk is not that they stayed alive after being buried. Most people first die, and then are placed in grave. Here, these people went into the grave alive, as the earth swallowed them. Thus, וְיָרְדוּ חַיִּים שְׁאֹלָה, "and they descended alive into the grave. During their descent, they were still alive. That does not mean that they did not immediately asphyxiate.

Is this your own interpretation, from which you are asking? Or it this a known midrash?

There is a midrash about the sons of Korach staying alive for quite some time after, but that is an entirely different idea.

share|improve this answer
    
I have added my source in the question. –  expern Jun 2 '13 at 16:46
    
yes, i wrote this after you added your source (חַיִּים שְׁאֹלָה with your explication) but before you added your even further explication ('if it just meant...'). i disagree with your further explication. this is more than just an earthquake. it is a prophetically predicted and localized, targeted sinkhole. If you have more of a "source" than your own interpretation of the words in the pasuk, e.g. a midrash, or a Rishon or Acharon saying it, it might grant more credibility to the premise of the question. –  josh waxman Jun 2 '13 at 18:14
    
So what if it is 'prophetically predicted' etc. There is no need for the Torah to write they were buried alive since that is normal in a sinkhole. –  expern Jun 2 '13 at 19:12
    
'there is no need to write X' is the hallmark of דרש, not פשט. but you are not Chazal, to make your own דרשות. or at the least, if you do, others need not be convinced by them. as far as a regular reading of the verse goes, I disagree that there is no need for the Torah to write, and stress, this point. but it all has to do with how you read the context. to turn to a peshat extreme, even a sudden sinkhole is miraculous, and a contrast to אם כמות כל האדם ימתון אלה. to turn to midrash, Chazal in Avos viewed the mere mouth of the earth to be the new creation, not that Korach or Datan lived after. –  josh waxman Jun 2 '13 at 19:44
    
Isn't there a midrash that says korach was heard screaming Mosha Rabbeinu is right? It was one of those raba bar bar chuna midrashim in the end if baba bathra. PShat is obviously he is not alive but maybe could help with the question being asked? –  MoriDoweedhYaa3gob Jun 3 '13 at 18:25
show 9 more comments

I read in the name of the kabalists (could be arizal) that Korach was a gilgul of Kain and Moshe was a gilgul of Hevel. Since, the "earth swallowed the blood of Hevel" as written: "And now, you are cursed even more than the ground, which opened its mouth to take your brother's blood from your hand" (Bereishis 4:11)

Therefore justice demanded that Korach be swallowed and suffer to atone for what he did.

http://parsha.blogspot.co.il/2011/06/was-korach-gilgul-of-kayin-or-of-yisro.html

share|improve this answer
    
No such thing as jiljul nashomoth :) –  MoriDoweedhYaa3gob Jun 3 '13 at 18:22
    
How does this answer the question - the OP asked why did Korach have to stay alive in sheol? –  gt6989b Jun 3 '13 at 22:37
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.