וידבר אל קרח ואל כל עדתו לאמר בוקר ויודע ה' את אשר לו ואת הקדוש והקריב אליו וגו'
“And he spoke to Korach and to his entire congregation to say: ‘[Wait for] morning and Hashem will let us know which is His and who is holy to come close to Him.’”
When Korach and his followers demanded that they be permitted to bring the Ketores (Spice Offering), Moshe pushed off the confrontation for the following morning. He was hoping that during the night they will realize the terrible consequences they will face if they persist with their irrational demands.
Rashi teaches that by asking Korach and his group to wait for the following morning, Moshe wished to convey a message to them: Just like Hashem clearly defined the difference between night and day, so too Hashem clearly defined who should be a Kohen and who should be a Levi. “Can you turn day into night?” he asked them. “Just as you cannot change nature, so too you cannot change the positions in Klal Yisroel that Hashem designated.”
Later, Moshe rebuked Korach and his followers by saying: “Is it not enough for you that Hashem chose you from the entire Jewish people… and He brought you close and all of your brothers the sons of Levi, that you still demand the Priesthood?” This remark is a bit puzzling. After all, we know that every person must strive to become greater and come closer to Hashem. We should never be satisfied with our spiritual level, but always seek ways to grow in our service of Hashem. If so, was it so wrong of Korach that he desired the Priesthood? All he wanted was to serve Hashem at the same level of Aharon and his sons. This question compels us to take a closer look at this conflict and ask ourselves what Korach’s true intentions were.
Hashem created the world and inhabited it with billions of people. Each person has a particular mission that he must accomplish; without him, the world would be incomplete, because no other person can fulfill his mission. If someone else would be able to carry out this person’s mission, he would not have been created. The only reason why Hashem created so many people is because each person is essential for the world’s existence and for the fulfillment of the Divine Plan.
To ensure that each person is able to carry out his mission, Hashem places everyone in the particular position which is best suited for his purpose in life. Nothing in this world happens by chance. When a person finds himself in a certain situation, he should take this as a sign that his destiny can only be fulfilled with these circumstances. One person is rich; another person is poor. One person comes from an illustrious family; another person is the product of a broken home. All of these life-circumstances are tailor-made for each individual, to enable everyone to accomplish his own mission.
How can we know what our mission in life is? Firstly, we must pray for Divine assistance and ask Hashem for guidance. We can only accomplish what we’re supposed to with help from Above. Then, each person must take a sincere look at himself and see where there is a need for improvement. If he finds a personal deficiency, he should assume that his mission in life is to improve that area of his personality.
It is known that the holy Sanzer Rav was extremely generous. He distributed every last penny he owned for tzedaka. In fact, when he no longer had any money to distribute to poor people he borrowed money to give to tzedaka. A chassid once saw how the Rebbe was giving large sums of money to the poor people who came to him with their problems. The Sanzer Rav turned to the chassid and said: “Don’t think that I was born a generous person. You should know that in the beginning, when I had to give away something to another person, it was very difficult for me. I would feel as if I was giving away part of myself. When I saw how difficult it is for me to be generous, I realized that my mission in life must be to work on the trait of generosity. I work very hard to get better in this area.”
The same is true about all of us. If a person sees that he is easily angered, then whenever he finds himself becoming worked up he should think to himself: Who knows? Perhaps my mission in life is to become more easygoing? A person who finds that he is jealous of others should consider it his life-mission to work on being happy for others, and so too with all other traits.
It is interesting to see how most people can easily pinpoint the faults in others, but fail to see their own shortcomings. This is so because we were not placed in this world to work on other people’s faults, and therefore it is not difficult for us to see where they are going wrong. Only when it comes to our own faults, which is the purpose of our existence, do we fail to see where we’re going wrong.
The Kohen Gadol (High Priest) had the sacred duty of bringing the Ketores on Yom Kippur. If he changed even the slightest thing from the service, he died within the year. His unique mission was to perform this sacred avodah in the prescribed manner, in the right place, at the right time, and with all required rituals. If he veered even the slightest from the way he was required to fulfill his unique mission, he was severely punished; that’s how important it is for each person to fulfill his own life’s mission to the utmost of his ability.
Korach wanted to become the Kohen Gadol because he wanted to perform the highest possible service to Hashem. Moshe explained to him that every person has his unique mission in this world and if he performs the mission that Hashem wants from him, he is just as important as the Kohen Gadol who is fulfilling his own mission. If Hashem didn’t designate you as the Kohen Gadol, then doing the priestly service is not your obligation. You cannot become closer to Hashem that way; the only way you can reach your highest potential is by performing your own mission to the best of your ability.
This is what Moshe said to Korach: “Why do you desire the priesthood? Isn’t it enough that Hashem gave you your own mission – that of a Levi? The priesthood is totally unnecessary for you. It is enough that you become the best Levi you can be.”
Rashi compares this to the difference between day and night. Just as daytime and nighttime have their individual roles in this world, so too each person has his individual role to fulfill. And just as we cannot change nature, we cannot change or alter our mission or fulfill another person’s mission.