In the portion Korach, the kabbalists tell us that at the core of what Korach was saying was a message so powerful that initially all of the leaders and almost all of the Israelites were awakened by it. So, what was this message? What was so true and powerful about what Korach was saying that he was able to, as the Midrash tells us, draw so many of the Israelites with his words?
In the desert at that time, there were different groups of people. There were the kohens, the priests, who were considered the innermost group; they were the ones who were closest to the Light of the Creator and who did the spiritual work in its highest form. Then there were the Levites, who were elevated, but not like the priests. They had a little more distance from the spiritual work. And amongst the Levites themselves, there were different groups that were either closer or further away. The outermost group was made up of those called the Israelites. At that point in the desert, everyone was OK with this. Everybody was satisfied; this is my work, somebody else does more work and is more connected, and so forth.
However, Korach’s message was something that is very true: the most dangerous place to be from a spiritual view is to be satisfied, both with where someone is spiritually, and with the amount of work he or she is doing. Korach’s message to everybody, therefore, was to wake up; it’s not OK that only Aaron, for instance, gets to go into the Kodesh HaKodashim, the Holy of Holies, or that Moses gets to speak to the Light of the Creator every day. Every single one of us, he said, should be there and should have the desire to be there. His message was to not be satisfied with the current situation, and to awaken more.
We know that words written in the Torah must be words of truth, and these are words of truth from Korach; as such, it’s a message that every single one of us needs to ask for on this Shabbat. Because each of us, to one degree or another, is satisfied with our own spiritual state and level of connection. And the Zohar tells us that a person who is satisfied with where they are in their spiritual work and spiritual connection is a person who is on his way to disconnecting from the Light of the Creator.
There’s a section in the Zohar I have mentioned before, but wanted to share again, because it relates so beautifully to this teaching. It speaks about the waves in the ocean, asking, “What are the waves?” The Zohar explains that there are the lower waters, the water of the oceans, and then there are what are called the higher waters, the waters that are closer to the Light of the Creator, the waters that are in the Heavens. And the waters that are in the lower worlds, the waters of the ocean, have a burning desire to be closer to the Light of the Creator. Waves, therefore, are the manifestation of the waters of the ocean’s desires to go up and connect to the Light of the Creator. But the Light of the Creator pushes them back down, and says, “No, that’s not your place.” And what sustains the waters of the ocean, the Zohar explains, is their constant desire to go higher, their constant desire not to be satisfied with their lower state of connection. What sustains the essence of the waters, what gives them the Light of the Creator, is their constant yearning for a higher connection. And this is one of the great gifts of Shabbat Korach.
On this Shabbat, we all have the opportunity to receive the true message of Korach: Do not be satisfied. Wherever we are, whatever our level of connection, whatever our level of work, we want to become unsatisfied, because being so sustains us. The desire the waters of the ocean have to get closer to the Light of the Creator is the desire that each one of us needs to awaken in order to be further ahead in our work and in our connection. Because it is this dissatisfaction with our current level that allows the constant Light of the Creator to enter into our lives, with the totality of Its protection and blessings.