Strength of our Fathers
My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. -John Bunyan
Korach leads a rebellion against Moses, Aaron and their leadership of Israel. They are accused of unlawfully ruling over the people. Moses seems to take the personal attack to heart and prays to God that the death of the rebels should be most unnatural, a change of the very laws of creation.
Not a moment later and the very earth opens up miraculously and swallows the rebels whole. The Sfat Emet in 5636 (1876) learns an unusual lesson from the episode and the subsequent good stature of Korach’s sons and the eventual leadership of their descendent, the prophet Samuel.
The Sfat Emet explains that by the miraculous punishment of Korach and his companions, when they were sent alive to Sheol (apparently an unpleasant afterworld), they retained their own errors and sins and did not pass them on to their descendants. Had they died in a more conventional fashion, their sons would have inherited their characteristics, including the negative traits that would not have allowed their descendants to have reached the levels of prophecy which they did.
The Sfat Emet therefore states that when a person dies, their children inherit their characteristics, their strengths and their capabilities and continue to contribute positively to the wider community as their parents did before, so that in a sense the power of the parent is never lost, neither to the family nor to the entire community.
In memory of Rabbi Miki Mark hy”d.