1 Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:
א וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃
3 [Remove] the fire pans of those who have sinned at the cost of their lives, and let them be made into hammered sheets as plating for the mizbayach—for once they have been used for offering to Hashem, they have become sacred—and let them serve as a warning to the people of Yisrael.
5 as Hashem had ordered him through Moshe. It was to be a reminder to the Israelites, so that no outsider—one not of Aharon‘s offspring—should presume to offer incense before Hashem and suffer the fate of Korach and his band.
ז וַיְהִי בְּהִקָּהֵל הָעֵדָה עַל־מֹשֶׁה וְעַל־אַהֲרֹן וַיִּפְנוּ אֶל־אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וְהִנֵּה כִסָּהוּ הֶעָנָן וַיֵּרָא כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה׃
ח וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן אֶל־פְּנֵי אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד׃
9 Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying,
ט וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃
10 “Remove yourselves from this community, that I may annihilate them in an instant.” They fell on their faces.
י הֵרֹמּוּ מִתּוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַזֹּאת וַאֲכַלֶּה אֹתָם כְּרָגַע וַיִּפְּלוּ עַל־פְּנֵיהֶם׃
11 Then Moshe said to Aharon, “Take the fire pan, and put on it fire from the mizbayach. Add incense and take it quickly to the community and make expiation for them. For wrath has gone forth from Hashem: the plague has begun!”
יב וַיִּקַּח אַהֲרֹן כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה וַיָּרָץ אֶל־תּוֹך הַקָּהָל וְהִנֵּה הֵחֵל הַנֶּגֶף בָּעָם וַיִּתֵּן אֶת־הַקְּטֹרֶת וַיְכַפֵּר עַל־הָעָם׃
13 he stood between the dead and the living until the plague was checked.
יג וַיַּעֲמֹד בֵּין־הַמֵּתִים וּבֵין הַחַיִּים וַתֵּעָצַר הַמַּגֵּפָה׃
14 Those who died of the plague came to fourteen thousand and seven hundred, aside from those who died on account of Korach.
יד וַיִּהְיוּ הַמֵּתִים בַּמַּגֵּפָה אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר אֶלֶף וּשְׁבַע מֵאוֹת מִלְּבַד הַמֵּתִים עַל־דְּבַר־קֹרַח׃
טו וַיָּשָׁב אַהֲרֹן אֶל־מֹשֶׁה אֶל־פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וְהַמַּגֵּפָה נֶעֱצָרָה׃
16 Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:
טז וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃
17 Speak to B’nei Yisrael and take from them—from the chieftains of their ancestral houses—one staff for each chieftain of an ancestral house: twelve staffs in all. Inscribe each man’s name on his staff,
יז דַּבֵּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְקַח מֵאִתָּם מַטֶּה מַטֶּה לְבֵית אָב מֵאֵת כָּל־נְשִׂיאֵהֶם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר מַטּוֹת אִישׁ אֶת־שְׁמוֹ תִּכְתֹּב עַל־מַטֵּהוּ׃
19 Deposit them in the Tent of Meeting before the Pact, where I meet with you.
יט וְהִנַּחְתָּם בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לִפְנֵי הָעֵדוּת אֲשֶׁר אִוָּעֵד לָכֶם שָׁמָּה׃
20 The staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout, and I will rid Myself of the incessant mutterings of the Israelites against you.
כ וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אֶבְחַר־בּוֹ מַטֵּהוּ יִפְרָח וַהֲשִׁכֹּתִי מֵעָלַי אֶת־תְּלֻנּוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר הֵם מַלִּינִם עֲלֵיכֶם׃
22 Moshe deposited the staffs before Hashem, in the Tent of the Pact.
כב וַיַּנַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַמַּטֹּת לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה בְּאֹהֶל הָעֵדֻת׃
Legendary Israeli storyteller Rabbi S.Z. Kahana tells a story about three clergymen who were on a visit to Mount Zion in 1965. When they asked the Jewish curator of Mt. Zion why the Jews insist on claiming Jerusalem as the capital of the Israel instead of letting it remain an international city, he replied with an example from this chapter. When Moshe appointed Aharon as the Kohen Gadol, ‘High Priest,’ the people objected and murmured. Neither the earthquake that swallowed Korach and his followers nor the plague that followed were enough to convince the people that Aharon had been appointed by God. It was only once his staff blossomed, showing the vitality of life, that they accepted Aharon as the Kohen. The curator invited the visiting clergymen to climb up with him to the mountain’s observation tower. “From here, you can see both the old and new Jerusalem. In the old Arab-controlled section of the city, as you can observe, there is desolation: ruins, desert, and rocks. On our side is the new Jerusalem, where over 150,000 Jews have settled. You can see our new homes and schools, the new hospital and the new university. Everywhere you look, you see life, growth, and vitality. You ask: To whom does Jerusalem belong? It belongs to those who make it bud and blossom, to those who make it live and grow.” Half a century later, Jewish Jerusalem continues to show even more incredible signs of life and vitality. Yerushalayim in Jewish hands is indeed ordained by Hashem, just as the budding of Aharon’s staff demonstrated his divine selection.Comment
24 Moshe then brought out all the staffs from before Hashem to all the Israelites; each identified and recovered his staff.
כד וַיֹּצֵא מֹשֶׁה אֶת־כָּל־הַמַּטֹּת מִלִּפְנֵי יְהֹוָה אֶל־כָּל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּרְאוּ וַיִּקְחוּ אִישׁ מַטֵּהוּ׃
כה וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה הָשֵׁב אֶת־מַטֵּה אַהֲרֹן לִפְנֵי הָעֵדוּת לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת לְאוֹת לִבְנֵי־מֶרִי וּתְכַל תְּלוּנֹּתָם מֵעָלַי וְלֹא יָמֻתוּ׃
26 This Moshe did; just as Hashem had commanded him, so he did.
כו וַיַּעַשׂ מֹשֶׁה כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהֹוָה אֹתוֹ כֵּן עָשָׂה׃
27 But the Israelites said to Moshe, “Lo, we perish! We are lost, all of us lost!
כז וַיֹּאמְרוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵאמֹר הֵן גָּוַעְנוּ אָבַדְנוּ כֻּלָּנוּ אָבָדְנוּ׃
28 Everyone who so much as ventures near Hashem‘s Mishkan must die. Alas, we are doomed to perish!”
כח כֹּל הַקָּרֵב הַקָּרֵב אֶל־מִשְׁכַּן יְהֹוָה יָמוּת הַאִם תַּמְנוּ לִגְוׂעַ׃