Korach, Datan and Aviram, and 250 leaders of Israel rebel against the authority of Moshe and Aharon. The rebellion results in their being swallowed by the earth. Many resent their death and blame Moshe.
- Source: Chidushei HaLev
“… and On ben Pelet, sons of Reuven …. ” (16:1)
It’s amazing how we can be blind to the blindingly obvious. Rashi explains that the name of On ben Pelet can be understood as follows: He sat in mourning all the days of his life for his sin of joining in at first with Korach (Onen means mourner), and that miracles were wrought for him (Pelet or Pele means wonder or miracle), and because he repented he was saved from Korach and his plot. He was the “son of Reuven,” meaning that he saw (the word “Reuven” is from the root “to see”) the falsity of the Korach’s claim.
Ostensibly, then, On ben Pelet was on a high spiritual level and was motivated only by altruism. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (109b), however, explains: Rav says, “On, son of Pelet, did not repent on his own, but rather his wife saved him. She said to him: What difference does it make to you? If this Master, Moshe, is the great one, then you are the student. And if this Master, Korach, is the great one, then you are the student. Why are you involving yourself in this matter?”
Which suggests that On’s motivation was to gain status, and that his wife was pointing out to him that whoever was going to be the boss, it wasn’t going to be him.
But didn’t we establish that On ben Pelet was acting altruistically and because of his righteousness the truth was revealed to him? Apparently, there must have been some minute desire within him for honor and self-advancement, and when his wife pointed this out to him, he did teshuva.
Which begs another question. Did On ben Pelet need his wife to point out to him that he wasn’t going to be the boss? Surely that was abundantly clear to On without his wife’s rebuke.
It emerges from this that even a tiny delusional idea in our heart can totally blind us — even to the blindingly obvious.