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My question is based on the premise that a difference in spiritual levels/righteousness between individuals can cause people to die, get sick, or receive some other form of punishment as evidenced by the incident with the prophet Elijahu in Zarephath (Melachim I - 17,18:18).

When Elijahu came to the woman's house in Zarephath, her son became sick and died. Rashi explains that before Elijahu came her deeds had been compared to the rest of the inhabitants of the city. With the prophet's arrival, the Heavenly Tribunal now compared her deeds to the prophet's. This difference in righteousness caused her son to die. At least, that's my understanding of Rashi's commentary on that verse.

Based on that premise, it should follow that the same should have occured to the people who were around Moshe as he was an even greater prophet than Elijahu?

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    Rashi is not saying that this is a principle within the Torah. He’s only explaining the meaning of the misconception of the mother of the sick child. In other words, she assumed what was happening was some kind of harsh judgement upon her. But like Rashi states to 17:17, the illness was only to magnify G-d publicly. She merited to be the vehicle for a revealed miracle, the resurrection of the dead. – Yaacov Deane Apr 1 at 21:51
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    @YaacovDeane, might I recommend you post that as an answer? – msh210 Apr 2 at 22:06
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    @msh210 Feel free to post it if you feel that merits being called an answer. It’s just clarifying a misunderstanding of what Rashi is saying. – Yaacov Deane Apr 3 at 0:52

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