Parsahat קרח – Bamidbar 16:7 – Moshe’s Harsh Words Come Back

Bamidbar 16:6 and 16:7:

6. Do this, Korah and his company: Take for yourselves censers.

7. Place fire into them and put incense upon them before the Lord tomorrow, and the man whom the Lord chooses he is the holy one; you have taken too much upon yourselves, sons of Levi.

Sotah 13b: “You have taken too much upon yourselves” – We learn in a Beraita that Rabbi Levi says: with the phrase “too much” Moshe informed Korah and with the phrase “too much” was Moshe himself informed. [In our verse] Moshe said “too much” to Korah. In [Parshat Vetechanan when Moshe is praying to God a lot to be allowed to enter Israel] HaShem responds to Moshe “you have prayed enough” [this is how God informed Moshe that he would not be allowed to enter Israel.]

Torah Temimah ColloquialTranslation on Note #7:

The commentators explain at great length the appropriateness of this “measure for measure” manner in which HaShem responded to Moshe when he (Moshe) asked to be allowed to enter Israel. HaShem responded by using the [exact same phrase] “too much” [and said to Moshe] don’t pray anymore, Rashi comments on this and says that God used the exact same phrase “too much”. God is very exacting with His righteous and punishes them in a ‘measure for measure’ manner. All the commenters agree that Moshe sinned by using this phrase but they don’t explain what the sin was.

It appears to me that Moshe did not sin at all in using this phrase with Korah. The implication of the phrase is to say “too much” to the sons of Levi [which both Korah and Moshe were descended from Levi]to basically say to them “you have enough honor and greatness”. Since Moshe himself was from the tribe of Levi, so he automatically included himself in the statement. That is why God, Himself, when Moshe was praying [too] much to God about himself that he should be allowed to enter Israel, God responded with the same phrase. That is, as though God were saying, “I have heeded you many times” and just as you, yourself, said, “too much [enough] is given to you, sons of Levi” therefore, don’t continue to speak and ask this of Me. We find similarly in the Aggada of CHALAK 111a that God used the thoughts of Moshe when Moshe went up to heaven, he saw God writing “be patient”. Moshe said to God, “Master of the world, be patient with the righteous.” God responded, “even with the evil-doers”. Moshe replied [quoting Psalms], “evil doers will perish”. Then when the Children of Israel sinned and Moshe prayed for them saying “God, God, be patient with them”, God responded “didn’t you tell me to [just] be patient with the righteous”? Here also when Moshe is saying that [the Bnei Levi] have enough, God reminds him of that.

Editor’s note: This is one of several places where the Torah Temimah quotes lesser known Gemoras that quote well known episodes in less than perfect light. In this Gemora, the well-known phrase that Moshe uses to critique Korah and his followers comes back to haunt him when Moshe prays to be allowed to enter Israel.

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