Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Korach and Liberalism

posted by David Klinghoffer

Korah_Botticelli.jpg

A helpful psychological and political insight emerges from this week’s Torah reading, Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32): Always be skeptical of someone’s politics when you see that it increases his prestige in the eyes of high-prestige society. Liberté, égalité, vanité.
Pictured above by Botticelli, Korach was an elder from the tribe of Levi who sought to stir a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. He gave egalitarian sentiment as his justification, assailing Moses for wrapping himself in prestige and honor when those goods should be shared equally among the people. He protested:

You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and the Lord is in their midst. So why do raise yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?

But Rashi, citing a midrashic tradition, explains that Korach’s motives were really not as he pretended. The truth is, Korach felt that he himself had not received his share of glory in the form of prestigious leadership appointments: 

Now what made Korach decide to quarrel with Moses? He envied the chieftainship of Elizaphan the son of Uzziel whom Moses appointed as chieftain over the sons of Kohath by the [Divine] word.

Does this not sound familiar: the call for “liberty” and “equality” as a mask for personal vanity? Isn’t it modern liberalism, or a certain thread of it, in a nutshell, where not all but much of the drum-beating for “rights” (abortion rights, gay rights, for example) comes from people with no personal stake in such matters but who transparently feed their personal self-esteem by glorying in their own progressivism?
I’m not, of course, saying that this is true of all progressives. But of some? Many? Sure, absolutely.


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Brian Beckman

posted June 26, 2009 at 1:02 am


Great observation, David. It’s of possible interest to note that the name Korach means both “bald,” perhaps as in bald ambition, and “icy cold,” perhaps as in cold, calculating, Machiavellian manipulation of people.



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Abigail

posted June 26, 2009 at 7:41 am


And what about all the men who oppose abortion? None of them will ever be pregnant. Arguably they don’t have any stake in that issue.



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DML

posted June 26, 2009 at 9:50 am


I feel sorry for poor Korach, poor guy was murdered for holding a gripe. Even Korach’s wife and babies were killed. Then to have a divine reign of terror to silence those objecting to his death placed upon the whole congregation.
Thankfully God has mellowed out since those 40 years in the wilderness, and progressives like me still get to live and have an opinion.



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freelunch

posted June 26, 2009 at 10:19 am


Does this not sound familiar: the call for “liberty” and “morality” as a mask for personal vanity? Isn’t it modern conservatism, or a certain thread of it, in a nutshell, where not all but much of the drum-beating for “morality” (whining about taxes that might help the poor, not caring if people die because they cannot afford health care, denying abortions no matter the reason, refusing to treat gays equally, for example) comes from people with no personal stake in such matters but who transparently feed their personal self-esteem by glorying in their own self-righteousness and supposed self-reliance?
I’m not, of course, saying that this is true of all conservatives. But of some? Many? Sure, absolutely.



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Frank

posted June 29, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Thanks for the second most breath-taking display of prostituting religion for hatred of 2009.
Isn’t it sad when hate mongers can’t even be adequate hate mongers?



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Chris Klankowski

posted January 9, 2012 at 9:25 pm


This is the dumbest example. The Bible is a fiction book. The fact that you waste your time to compare a story and a guys name to modern day liberalism is pathetic. I think Korach in the story made a good point. You can’t compare it to todays society as back then, everyone was working hard and they didn’t have welfare programs. There was a lot of force and coersive behavior by rulers and kings. The reason the US over threw the King was for this type of reason. I hate most of these modern day liberals, but Korach was a revolutionary, not a liberal. He was standing up and voicing his opinion and was killed. If you ask for a pay raise at work, that does not make you a liberal, but if you want to take the fruits of someone who outworks you and give it to someone who does not work at all, then you would be a democrat. Korach does not in any way resemble a democrat, but is a hero.



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