Korach

Korach the Levite is incensed at not being in charge himself. In a populist appeal to democracy, he cries “All the people are holy… why are you raised above us?” Korach sees his tribe as a holy caste, intrinsically, rather than through their actions. When he can’t rule over others, he threatens to destroy the entire system. After being punished, a new law is enacted to protect Levites from corruption and feelings of superiority. From the taxes and gifts given to them, they must give away a tenth. Receiving gifts is difficult, dangerous, almost impossible. The demand to give a part away immediately allows the gift to exist as a gift, and to bring them closer to truly being holy.

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[Inspired by: Numbers 16 and 18; Rashi on 16:1; Sefer Hachinuch 396; Jacques Derrida on the aporia of the gift; Amitay ; and Botticelli’s La Punizione dei ribelli.]

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