Adulterous Power

Kli Yakar Numbers: Korach

Adulterous Power 

According to the Kli Yakar (Numbers 16:4), the great, holy Moses, the deliverer of the Torah, the Prophet of Prophets, the mortal to reach the highest levels of divine contact is accused of adultery. The Kli Yakar further explains that the antagonist of this week’s Torah reading, Korach, is the accuser and accuses Moses publicly. Though the basic text of the Torah makes no mention of such an event, the Kli Yakar teases out the meaning from in-between the lines, and states that Korach, while not having any evidence to base such a wild accusation, had a good understanding of human nature and that men in power do succumb to such temptation (hence the primacy of the 7th commandment “Do not commit adultery”, nestled between murder (6th) and theft (8th)).

It is therefore no coincidence that men of power are frequently accused and found guilty of inappropriate behavior in this department. The Kli Yakar says that one is a result of the other. The Talmud has at least two different references (Tractate Sotah 4b):  

“One who raises himself above others, in the end commits adultery,”

The second one is that:  

“One who raises himself above others, is as if he commits adultery.”

The reason for this, he explains, is that a man of power can’t abide to see others exerting authority. For a man of power even the normal authority of a man over a wife is one that he would seek to override. The man of power, ever hungry for more control, will seek to rule and conquer even the most intimate and sacred relationships of others. 

May we beware of those who exert power.

Shabbat Shalom, 



To all those accused of such misconduct. May the innocent ones be proven as such and may the guilty ones get their divine comeuppance.


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