Friday, July 08, 2016

Individual and collective blame

After Korach's instigation, Hashem warns Moshe and Aharon to separate from the group because they will be consumed.  They then appeal to G-d not to assign collective blame, saying, (16: 22)
 הָאִישׁ אֶחָד יֶחֱטָא וְעַל כָּל הָעֵדָה תִּקְצֹף
if one man sins, shall You be angry with the whole congregation?

My grandfather asks, how could they have questions G-d's judgment? Do we not accept that His is the ultimate justice even if we fail to understand it?  He refers to Ramban on verse 21 who asked a similar question, "and  this is the manner of those who plead for mercy -- to lighten the sin from the whole nation in attributing it to the individual who is guilty for causing it." 

My grandfather continues to say, that certainly it did not occur to Moshe and Aharon to cast aspersions on the justice and decress of Hakodehs Baruch Hu. Rather, their approach is similar to  Avraham's argument when pleading for mercy for Sdom in Bereishis 18: 25

Far be it from You to do a thing such as this, to put to death the righteous with the wicked so that the righteous should be like the wicked. Far be it from You! Will the Judge of the entire earth not perform justice?"


כהחָלִלָה לְּךָ מֵעֲשׂת | כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה לְהָמִית צַדִּיק עִם רָשָׁע וְהָיָה כַצַּדִּיק כָּרָשָׁע חָלִלָה לָּךְ הֲשֹׁפֵט כָּל הָאָרֶץ לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה מִשְׁפָּט:
As Rashi, based on Midrash Tanchuma, explains it 

חלילה לך: חולין הוא לך, it is profane for Your Name to destroy the righteous along with the wicked.


In truth - emes le'amitho - according to the Heavenly reckoning, everything is executived with perfect justice. It is only from the limitations of human perspective that it can appear imperfect. in seeing what appears to be the same treatment for the righteous and the wicked, which is why Avraham employed the kaf hadimyon  in saying כַצַּדִּיק כָּרָשָׁע. That false appearance is what concerned Avraham.

Likewise here, even though everyone who doubted in their hearts or who refrained from countering the rebellion was actually guilty. However, as that more passive form of sin is not visible to others, the recognition of the masses would be that only one man sinned, and all were punished. 

related post: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2015/10/dvar-yehudah-parsha-points-from-my.html


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