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Shabbat Parashat Korach 5773

Parashat Hashavua: Aviram Lives on and Dies Again

Harav Yosef Carmel

One of the main partners in the crime of Korach, in the attack on the leadership of Moshe, was Aviram (counterpart, actually brother, of Datan).  Besides the Torah narrative, Aviram also receives mention in Tehillim (106:16-17): “They were jealous against Moshe in the encampment, about Aharon, Hashem’s holy one. The earth opened and swallowed Datan, and it covered up the congregation of (adat) Aviram.” The term “adat Aviram” is interesting, in comparison to the more famous term from the Chumash, “adat Korach” (see Bamidbar 26:9; Bamidbar 27:3).

Let us return to the building of Yericho, which we discussed last week. Chiel rebuilt Yericho despite the curse of Yehoshua and paid a serious price: in the beginning of the process his elder son Aviram died, and his younger son Seguv died later, as Yehoshua had predestined (Melachim I 16:34). The next pasuk in the navi begins the story of a decree that Eliyahu made that there would be rain in Israel only when Eliyahu decreed it, which was followed by a long drought. The gemara (Sanhedrin 113a) tells a fascinating story, combining the two stories.

King Achav was a close friend of Chiel, and he went with Eliyahu to visit Chiel (either for the consecration of Yericho or for nichum aveilim- Rashi). Achav cynically questioned the effectiveness of Yehoshua’s curse regarding the building of Yericho. When Eliyahu confirmed his belief in Yehoshua’s curse, Achav said scornfully: “The curses of Yehoshua’s master, Moshe, did not come true, as Moshe said that if the people will worship idolatry, Hashem will hold back rain. We worshipped,” Achav said, “and the rain continued. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Yehoshua’s curses have any effect.” In response, Eliyahu asked Hashem for the “keys to rain” and withheld rain from Achav’s kingdom.

Based on the above, we can propose the following further background for the story. Yeravam ben Nevat, after rebelling against Shlomo, built calves for illegal worship, against the explicit commandment of Moshe. This same Yeravam called his son Nadav, the same name as the son of Aharon who died because he challenged Moshe’s authority by making rulings in his presence. Yeravam was trying to indicate that he was the moral continuation of Aharon who had also erected a calf for worship. Another person who used the naming of a son as a means of creating a historical connection to someone who challenged Moshe was Chiel. He called his son Aviram, thus trying to continue the legacy of opposing Moshe, and he and Achav scoffed at what Moshe and his disciple, Yehoshua, stood for. Chiel built Yericho based on Achav’s claim that Moshe’s threats were meaningless, making light of Yehoshua, his disciple. Indeed, Chiel paid the price, as his son died for this brazenness – one Aviram like the other.
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