" Im Bryiah Yivrah , if G-d creates something entirely new and the earth opens its mouth ( patzta et piha ) and swallow them and all that is theirs so that they descend to the depths alive then it is these men who are provoking G-d" (16:30). The death of Korach was not going to be a natural one. The notion of creating anew hearkens back to Breisheet and G-d's creation of the world. In fact so unique is the concept of creation ex nihilo that the word barah , create, appears in only one other place in the chumash , by the giving of the Torah - the moment which marked the purpose of creation.
Our Sages proclaim (Avot 5:5) that the "mouth of the earth" was "created" just as the process of creation was coming to an end and the first Shabbat, the day the earth must rest, was set to begin. Apparently Korach's action were an attack on creation itself and ridding the world of Korach and his henchman was integral to the ongoing creation of the world.
It is not only the theme of creation which links Korach to Breisheet. "Now you (Cain) are cursed from the earth that opened its mouth to take your brother's blood" (Breisheet 4:11). The term " pazta hadamah" - the earth opened its mouth appears in the chumash only in the relation to Cains' killing of his brother Hevel and the attempted coup by Korach. Interestingly both Hevel and Moshe are described as roeh tzohn , as sheppards. And Cain the oved adama one who worked the earth, is "cursed through the earth, "when you work the land it will no longer give you its strength" (4:11). Clearly the Torah wants us to connect these two stories.
"Jealously, lust, and honor remove a man from this world". Cain and Korach both full of jealousy towards those who were chosen in their stead and desirous of honour, epitomize this concept. While the Torah does not say so explicitly it appears that their grievances were further fueled by the fact that it was their younger relatives who superseded them. Korach, already smarting from the fact that his two younger cousins Moshe and Aaron had "usurped" power for themselves, was incensed when his younger cousin Elizafan ben Uziel was appointed head of the kehat family (see Rashi on 16:1). Cain and Korach sought personal acceptance and glory whereas true leadership is exemplified when one is willing to sacrifice ones self and seeks only the glory of the community.
"It is not good for man to be alone". This proclamation by G-d Himself is true not just of the husband wife relationship, which forms the context of the verse, but reflects man's needs for partnering. Oh chevruta oh mituta , give me a friend or give me death proclaims the Talmud (Taanit 23a). Yet that same need for companionship can drive man to seek dominion over his peers, seeking power, honour and to make a name for oneself. The ability to create meaningful relations with others is what gives live meaning and purpose.
The notion of uprooting personal jealousies is rooted in creation. Our Rabbis note that the moon was made second fiddle to the sun due to its unwillingness to share the skies with the sun. The process of the Egyptian exile begun with G-d's command to sanctify the moon, to rectify the sin of jealously. This command was given to Moshe and Aaron as a team, redemption can only occur when the personal aspirations as cast aside for the benefit of the community.
"You shall not be like Korach and his congregation" (17:5). Korach, the Rabbis note was, "a very bright man. Tragically instead of using his talents to make a positive creative mark on this world he followed in the path of Cain. While Cain was destined to be "cursed from the earth" Korach who learned nothing from the events of the past was to swallowed up by that same earth.
Korach, like Cain before him thought that it was they who were the center of the world. We are but mere dust -"you will return to the ground, for it was from the ground that you were taken. You are dust and to dust you shall return" (3:19). If we can keep that fundamental fact of creation in our minds we will merit to emulate Moshe the greatest of leaders who was "very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth". Shabbat Shalom!