Korach – Proper Sensitivity Towards Indirect Damage

There is an argument in Maseches Sanhedrin as to whether the 250 followers of Korach who were involved in the revolt against Aharon and Moshe in this week’s Torah portion of Korach will have a share in Olam Haba, The World to Come. Rebbe Akiva is of the opinion that they lost their share in the World to Come, and there is actually an argument whether they earned back their portion in the World To Come on their own merits as Rav Yehuda ben Beseira proves or whether it’s only because Chana, Shmuel Hanavi’s mother, prayed for them, as per Rebbe Eliezer.
The Mishna in Perek Chelek of Sanhedrin states, “The assembly of Korach is not destined to arise for resurrection, as it is stated: ‘And the earth closed upon them’ (Numbers 16:33), meaning in this world, and also: “And they perished from among the assembly” (Numbers 16:33), meaning in the World-to-Come; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Eliezer says: About them the verse says: ‘The Lord kills and makes alive; He lowers to the grave, and raises’ (I Samuel 2:6), indicating that the assembly of Korach has a share in the World-to-Come” (Mishna in Sanhedrin 108a). However the gemara there on daf 109b says, “The Sages taught in a baraisa (Tosefta 13:9): The members of the assembly of Korach have no share in the World-to-Come, as it is stated: “And the earth closed upon them” (Numbers 16:33), meaning in this world, and also: “And they perished from among the assembly” (Numbers 16:33), meaning in the World-to-Come; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beseira says: Although it says that they perished, they are like a lost item that is sought, ultimately found, and rehabilitated, as it is stated: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your mitzvot” (Psalms 119:176).” Rashi there on daf 109b explaining why they deserve a share in the World to come says that they fulfilled all Your mitzvos as it writes, “For all the assembly are all holy” (Bamidbar 16:3).

The Maharsha explains Rebbe Eliezer’s view as follows, “Chana prayed for them because, as Chaza”l in the Medrish Tanchuma (Korach paragraph 5) observes, that Korach saw a chain of good lineage coming from him and this he brought to the argument, but he didn’t know his sons would repent and from them came Shmuel. We see from here that Shmuel was the reason for Korach’s argument on Moshe. For this reason, when Chana says about herself ‘While the barren woman has born seven…The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up’ (Shmuel Alef 2:5, 6). Since out of Your mercy, I was treated graciously for a barren women like myself was able to give birth to 7 children, however these children caused Korach to make a mistake, which is considered indirect damaging therefore [Chana says] I pray for them that You will cause them to die and cause them to come back alive and if they don’t die, rather they went down alive straight into the depths of Gehenom, at least bring them back up.” (Click here fore Hebrew text.)
Chana, Shmuel’s mother, pleaded to Hashem after many barren years to have a child, many many generations after her ancestor, Korach, rebelled against Moshe Rabbeinu. Korach misunderstood his prophecy, seen through Divine inspiration, that he would have righteous people like Shmuel Hanavi come from his offspring; meaning he was deserving of the leadership, not Moshe. Furthermore, Chana did not even pray for Korach, but for the 250 people who were convinced to follow Korach’s lead. Thirdly, they of their own free will chose to follow Korach. Lastly, Hashem miraculously granted her children for according to natural causes she did not have the ability to bear children. Chana’s responsibility for causing the revolt of Korach and his followers by having Shmuel wasn’t just indirect, it was very indirect, seemingly not even her fault at all. So why did she feel responsible to pray on their behalf, which led to Hashem answering her prayers and overturning the ban they had from entering Olam Haba, which seems to imply the prayers and reason for the prayers were legitimate?

We see from here the extent one must feel responsible for another, no matter how indirect your involvement is. If there is even the slightest bit of connection to the party in question then one should feel remorse to inspire himself to at least pray on their behalf. Chana was just praying for a child after the embarrassment of many years of being childless, but when she realized her prayers and the answer to her prayers was what incited the rebellion of Korach and his followers which resulted in their loss in their share in The World To Come she felt compelled to get them out of the rut they were in, even though they chose, albeit mistakenly, to put themselves into it, and not get themselves out of, that rut.

This is the extent of responsibility one should have for his or her actions and the care for his or her fellow Jew.