A simple reading of Parshas Korach and Rashi seems to imply that Korach was denying Moshe's authenticity entirely, including the Torah itself, which is the prophecy of Moshe.

He asks why do we need a mezuzah when a house full of sefarim suffices, seemingly implying that he can make his own Torah just like Moshe (and same thing with techeless).

But how can it be that he was denying the Torah of Moshe? He saw the revelation at Mount Sinai, where Hashem revealed Himself through fire, lightning, angels etc, for the specific reason that's explicitly mentioned in the verse:

"In order that they believe in you (Moshe) forever".

Surely Hashem knew what He was doing, and if that revelation is enough even for all future generations to believe in Moshe (according to what Hashem said), then all the more so it should be enough to influence the people who actually say saw it directly to believe in Moshe.

So, was Korach denying the Torah, or was he making some other argument?

3 Answers 3


Good question. Many of the mefarshim take a particular approach in answering this question, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe puts them together in a sicha.

Korach specifically waited to bring his argument after they had reached Eretz Yisrael (and turned back due to the sin of the spies). Why?

Until now, Benei Yisrael were in a heirarchy. There was Moshe and Aharon at the top, closest to Hashem, who were outstanding in their greatness, their intellect, their character traits. It was due to this greatness that they deserved to be at the top. It was indeed of necessity, as the children of Israel were like innocent children, in need of the guidance of these leaders.

However, the point of coming out of Egypt was not to remain in the desert, learning Torah forever. In fact, that's not correct; the point of learning Torah is in order to actually live in the land, and perform the mitzvot, translating the learning into action and deed. And this is the point:

When it comes to doing a mitzva, every Jew is on the same level. I.e. Every Jew's mitzva is equally holy, and great.

Korach therefore was arguing that it doesn't make sense anymore to have a single, outstanding leader - what does that achieve? The destination of the Jews is to go and do the mitzvot, and in that state we will all be equal.

This argument comes out in what Korach was saying. "Why do you need a single mezuza, when you have a house full of books?" i.e. why do you need one leader, when you have a nation of leaders! "Why do you need a single strand of blue on your tzitzit if the whole garment is blue" i.e. if we are all holy, why do we need you to rule over us as "extra" holy? It's ridiculous and that's why he laughed.

He was wrong, as the lesson is that the mitzva itself is indeed equally holy for everyone, but the kavana that goes behind the mitzva is also of importance. Therefore, an outstanding leader like Moshe does indeed accomplish more for Hashem's plan when he does a mitzva.

Some mefarshim even say that Korach is right - but it's not the time yet. He was too early.


No one was able to argue on Moshe being the divine messenger as mentioned in the question (see Yesodei Hatorah 8:1).

Korach claimed there was no hierarchy in Judaism (16:3) and although Moshe is God's messenger, he is deciding things himself that God did not command. I feel that this was easy to do because the original hierarchy did not come God but from Yitro (Sh'mot 18:21-25). On this point he gained many followers.

Korach then went further (see P'nei Moshe on Yer.) and said that Moshe is explaining God's word however he wants, eg Tzitzit (Rashi 16:1) and Mezuzah (Midrash Aggadah 16:8, Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10:1). He does not seem to deny that Tzitzit came from God but more along the lines of you have your theory and I have mine.

This was considered having denied the Torah (Yerushalmi). This is not denying the written Torah but the oral Torah (See Sh'yarei Korban).

  • What's the difference between Torah shebaal peh and shebechsav? If they would trust Moshe's prophecy for the latter, why wouldn't they for the former? Commented Jul 8 at 21:03
  • thats what the Sh'yarei Korban writes at the end as a given from the passuk and then he writes that he doesnt need to explain... The only answer I can think of is that I once heard (never seen it inside) that when Moshe spoke prophecy is was without a lisp but when he said anything himself it was with his natural lisp (the ramban mentions that Moshe shouldn't have said i have a lisp because Hashem can heal it).
    – Mordechai
    Commented Jul 8 at 22:04
  • I always thought the lisp was healed when Hashem spoke through him at the Mount Sinai revelation Commented Jul 8 at 22:32
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    i couldnt find a source for mine but yours is here sefaria.org/Devarim_Rabbah.1.1
    – Mordechai
    Commented Jul 9 at 0:57
  • the ramban and ibn ezra say that moshe was never healed. the zohar says the shechina spoke thru moshe sefaria.org/Zohar%2C_Pinchas.61.372. maybe its a combination of all 3. moshe was never healed but when he spoke something written in the torah like most of dvarim, it was without a lisp. this is also implied from the midrash that it cannot say "these are the words" if they were said with a lisp they would be spelled differently
    – Mordechai
    Commented Jul 14 at 11:50

In addition to what @RabbiKaii said "This argument comes out in what Korach was saying. "Why do you need a single mezuza, when you have a house full of books?" i.e. why do you need one leader, when you have a nation of leaders!", I would like to share some other insights.

The mitzvah of the parah adumah was the only mitzvah that even Shlomo HaMelech - the wisest of all (1 Melachim 5:11; Midrash Tanchuma, Emor 20; Orchos Tzadikim, Introduction) - did not know what it meant.

Rabbi Moshe Wolfson, in the sefer Emunas Itecha cites a fascinating explanation of the Yismach Moshe, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum of Ujhel (c. 1790- c. 1840). The Yismach Moshe cites a unknown Midrash that asks what moved Korach to rebel against Moshe Rabbeinu. The Midrash says: “פרשת פרה אדומה ראה”- Korach saw the parsha of the parah adumah.

The Yismach Moshe indeed says that since Korach was wise, and knew what the rational behind the parah adumah was, he thought that, since he possessed this wisdom, he was in the same league as Moshe. He could be like Moshe. He could lead the nation amongst others. Why single out Moshe and Aharon? Why not all people? "We are all Holy", said Korach. Meaning, we all have the ability to lead the people.

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