Rabbi Levy’s article

By info, posted on June 10, 2010 - כ"ח סיון תש"ע at 7:17 pm.

The Sidra of Korach.

One of the most  startling events in the Torah

is the miracle in which the earth opened

its ‘mouth’ and swallowed Korach and his followers.

In invoking punishment on the evildoers , Moshe

referred to this phenomenom as a ‘new creation’.

The difficulty here is that the earth’s mouth was

not a new creation, but was one of those special

phenomena placed in the world at the time of  Creation,

as stated clearly in Pirkei Avot (5, 8).

    The  Talmud replies that  although the earth already

had its ‘mouth’, it might not necessarily open at that

particular spot. Moshe’s prayer was simply that

the opening should be transferred to the spot where

Korach was standing.

  Rabbi Shimon Schwab suggests a different reason why

Moshe asked for a ‘new creation’. The new creation referred

to Korach and his followers being swallowed alive

This is borne out by the Talmud in Baba Basra,

where Rabbah bar  Chanah placed his ear to the

ground and heard Korach and his men affirming

‘Moshe is true and his Torah is true’.

  But why did Moshe request this strange fate? As long as a person

is alive, he can redeem himself from an ignominious

fate through true and utter remorse. But once life

departs and with it the possibility of teshuva, his

fate is sealed for all eternity.

  The Midrash explains that every thirty days,

Korach and his followers are returned to Gehinom.

According to Rabbi Eliezer in the Talmud, at the time

of the revival of the dead, their sin will be fully expiated,

and at long last they will be redeemed from their

sorrowful fate.