|Al Regel Achat: Korach|
|Written by Yossie Mayerfeld|
ויקח קרח - "and Korach took"  ... Rashi comments, (what did he take?) -
לקח את עצמו לצד אחד להיות נחלק מתוך העדה לעורר על הכהונה, וזהו שתרגם אונקלוס ואתפלג נחלק משאר העדה להחזיק במחלוקת
He took himself to one side to dissociate himself from the congregation, to contest the [appointment of Aaron to the] kehunah. This is what Onkelos means when he renders it וְאִתְפְּלֵג,“and he separated himself.” He separated himself from the congregation to persist in a dispute.
The Zohar  on this passuk says: מחלוקת פלוגתא דשלום - ומאן דפליג על שלום פליג על שמא קדישא - Machloket is separation from peace - and one who separates from peace, separates from Hashem (lit: the Holy Name - the Radak explains that this is because 'Shalom' is one of the names of Hashem ).
The mishna in Avot  says:
כל מחלוקת שהיא לשם שמים, סופה להתקיים; ושאינה לשם שמים, אין סופה להתקיים. איזו היא מחלוקת שהיא לשם שמים, זו מחלוקת הלל ושמאי; ושאינה לשם שמים, זו מחלוקת קורח ועדתו.
Any machloket that is for the sake of Heaven, in the end it will endure; and that is not for the sake of Heaven, in the end it will not undure. What machloket is for the sake of Heaven?- this is the machloket of Hillel and Shamai; and that is not for the sake of Heaven?- this is the machloket of Korach and his followers.
Upon closer inspection, several things about this mishna seem difficult.
1. Why does the mishna say "the machloket of Korach and his followers" - shouldn't it be "Korach (and his congregation, on the one hand) and Moshe (on the other)"?
2. What makes Hillel and Shamai the paradigm of מחלוקת לשם שמים? There are many, many disputants throughout the mishayot (and gemara) who were all clearly arguing for the sake of Heaven. [A note of irony: Hillel and Shamai themselves are only listed as arguing about a total of 3 halachot (!) It is their disciples - Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai - who argued about over 300 halachot throughout shas.]
3. Why would we want a machloket to endure? Wouldn't it be better that machloket be resolved?
To the first question, the baalei mussar point out that Korach and his followers were only united in their opposition to Moshe. Their motivation was purely jealousy (which is based on ga’avah). They were out for personal gain. As the wife of Ohn ben Peles  rightly pointed out, what difference would it make who the leader would ultimately be - if Korach became leader, these same followers would have then turned on him in rebellion. However, Moshe was not a bar plugta; he did not involve himself personally in the machloket – to the contrary, as he told the first mit'onenim: ונחנו מה - "what are we?"  (the ultimate expression of humility ) – your dispute is not with us, but rather, with Hashem. Here too, his response was ואהרון מה הוא כי תלינו עליו – "and Aharon - what is he that you complain about him?" 
Although, as mentioned, Hillel and Shamai themselves were not often listed as disputants, they had very different approaches, which are evident in the many disputes between their respective academies. To distill it to its essence, Beit Shamai reflected Midat HaDin, and Beit Hillel, Midat HaChessed. The gemara  says that יצאה בת קול ואמרה אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים הן והלכה כב"ה - a bat kol went out and said, "these and these are the words of Hashem, (but) the halacha is like Beit Hillel. The gemara continues: מפני מה זכו ב"ה לקבוע הלכה כמותן מפני שנוחין ועלובין היו ושונין דבריהן ודברי ב"ש ולא עוד אלא שמקדימין דברי ב"ש לדבריהן - "Why did Beit Hillel merit to have the halacha established like them? They were pleasant and patient, and would teach Beit Shamai's opinion as well as their own - further, they taught Beit Shamai's opinion before their own". Clearly, they were only interested in the truth, and humbled themselves in that pursuit. 
The kabbalists say  that after the coming of Mashiach, the halacha will follow Beit Shamai. So, the machloket endures because both opinions are valid - and at some point in time, we will even base our practice on the view that we don't follow today.
The gemara  says
ת"ש אע"פ שנחלקו ב"ש וב"ה בצרות ובאחיות בגט ישן ובספק אשת איש ובמגרש את אשתו ולנה עמו בפונדק בכסף ובשוה כסף בפרוטה ובשוה פרוטה לא נמנעו ב"ש מלישא נשים מבית הלל ולא ב"ה מבית שמאי ללמדך שחיבה וריעות נוהגים זה בזה לקיים מה שנאמר (זכריה ח) האמת והשלום אהבו
We learned in the beraita: Beit Shamai and Beit Hillel argued about [many halochot affecting a woman's marital status, which would render children of that union or a subsequent union as mamzerim in the view of the other]. Nevertheless, Beit Shamai did not refrain from marrying women of Beit Hillel, and vice-versa. This shows that they acted towards each other with dearness and friendship to fulfill the verse in Zecharya 'and they loved truth and peace'.
This is the hallmark of מחלוקת לשם שמים - where there is no personal conflict, but purely an attempt to find the truth.
My father pointed out to me that it is interesting that the שיר של יום for the second day of the week (Monday) is Psalms 48: שיר מזמור לבני קורח - "A song, a psalm of the sons of Korach". The midrash  says that on the second day of creation, the Torah does not say ki tov - "for it was good", because on that day Hashem created machloket. Perhaps the sons of Korach, who did not follow in their father's ways, were coming to be metaken the division that was created on the second day.
Rav Yissochar Frand asks on this Midrash: this is not the first division! - on the first day it says , ויבדל אלקים בין האור ובין החושך - "And G-d divided between the Light and the Dark" . And despite that division, it does say "And G-d saw that it was good (ki tov)". He quotes Rav Shlomo Breuer who resolves this contradiction based on the very same passuk in Zecharia we quoted above: האמת והשלום אהבו - "they loved truth and peace'". The passuk puts Emet before Shalom - truth before peace. Ohr and Choshech are metaphors for Truth and Falsehood, respectively. This is a good and proper division. The water above and the water below were not "good" or "bad"; the separation was simply necessary for the world's existence.
(This is why Hashem enforces the peace in Heaven - עושה שלום במרומיו - "He makes peace in His heights" . Rashi on that passuk [second pshat] quotes the midrash  that this refers to shamayim, which is a contraction of eish and mayim, fire and water. Perhaps we can say that מחלוקת לשם שמים recalls this kind of peace made between competing factors for the purpose of building the world.)
R' Breuer continues: The last mishnah in Uktzin  says: אין לך כלי שהוא מחזיק ברכה אלא שלום - "There is no vessel to hold Blessing, other than Peace". Shalom is the receptacle; it is the vessel - but a person needs something to put into the kli, a person needs truth first - only then can peace envelop him.
The Maharal  points out that it does not say 'ki tov' after Man was created. He explains that this is because Man is incomplete - he must strive to fulfill his potential. Perhaps we can suggest that because Man has within himself both a yetzer haTov and a yetzer haRa - both a good and bad inclination - and is a constant battle (machloket, in a sense), this is why the term 'tov' could not be applied. We can further suggest that this may be why we greet each other with "shalom aleichem" "peace be upon you [plural]". The gemara  says that two malachei ha-shareit (one "good" and one "bad") accompany a person home on Friday night (it is based upon this that we sing "shalom aleichem" when we get home). Elsewhere  the gemara says two malachei haShareit always accompany a person, and these malachim (that can seen as an application of the yetzer haTov and a yetzer haRa) are the witnesses who testify about the person's deeds in his final Judgment.
The antidote to the yetzer haRa is Torah, as the gemara  says: הקב"ה אמר להם לישראל בני בראתי יצר הרע ובראתי לו תורה תבלין - "Hashem said to Israel: 'my sons - I have created the evil inclination, and I have created the Torah as an antidote'". Through learning Torah we can earn our tov - as the passuk  says: כי לקח טוב נתתי לכם תורתי אל תעזובו - "For I gave you a good acquisition (or: teaching); forsake not My instruction (Torah)"
Torah is synonomous with truth.  The Ramban  says that כל התורה שמותיו של הקב"ה - "the entire Torah is the Name of Hashem" - which makes perfect sense, since Hashem is the ultimate Truth, as the gemara  says אמר רבי חנינא חותמו של הקב"ה אמת - R' Chanina said, "God's seal is Truth". And the verse  says ה׳ אלקים אמת הוא אלקים חיים - "God the Lord is truth, He is the living God". [It is interesting to note that this very same expression of אלקים חיים is what the bat kol (in the gemara quoted above) used to describe Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai - אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים ].
Perhaps this can give us a deeper understanding into the Midrash that Rashi  quotes:
בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי: ולא הזכיר בן יעקב, שבקש רחמים על עצמו שלא יזכר שמו על מחלוקתם
[The verse] does not mention, “the son of Jacob,” because he [Jacob] prayed that his name not be mentioned in connection with their quarrel ..
Yaakov was immersed in Torah - איש תם יושב אהלים -  whose very essence was truth, as it says: תתן אמת ליעקב.  Of course he could not bear to be included in the machloket of Korach, which was the antithesis of truth.
דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום - "Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace."  Through the pursuit of the truth of Torah, we come to peace. As the beraisa  teaches: אמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי חנינא תלמידי חכמים מרבים שלום בעולם שנאמר וכל בניך למודי ה' ורב שלום בניך אל תקרי בניך אלא בוניך "Said Rabbi Elazar in the name of Rabbi Chanina: Talmidei Chachamim increase peace in the world, as it says  'And all your children shall be disciples of Hashem, and your children's peace shall increase' - do not read banayich (your children), but rather bonayich (your builders).
The gemara  tells us:
אמר רבה בר בר חנה זימנא חדא הוה קאזלינא באורחא אמר לי ההוא טייעא תא ואחוי לך בלועי דקרח אזיל חזא תרי בזעי דהוה קא נפק קיטרא מנייהו שקל גבבא דעמרא אמשיי' מיא ואותביה בריש רומחיה ואחלפי' התם איחרך א"ל אצית מה שמעת ושמעית דהוו קאמרי הכי משה ותורתו אמת והן בדאים
Raba bar bar Chana was once going along his way, when a certain Arab said to him, "come, and I will show you where Korach was swallowed" .. he asked him, "what did you hear?" and he said, "I heard a voice saying 'Moshe and his Torah are true, and they (we) are liars'".
In the olam ha-Emet, Korach admits the truth: Moshe v'Torato emet - Moshe and his Torah are true.
 Bamidbar 16:1
 קרח דף קע"ו עמוד א-ב
 see Shabbat 10b
 Avot 5:20
 Sanhedrin 109b
 Shmot 16:8
 see Chullin 89a
 Bamidbar 11:1
 Eruvin 13b
 Hillel was well-known for his humility; see for example Shabbat 30b-31a
 Sfas Emes quotes the Arizal, and the Chida quotes the Ritva who says it in the name of "the kabbalists" of his time
 Yevamos 14b. The full list of halachot that I skipped for brevity in the English translation of the gemara are: Tzaros, sisters (who fall to Yibum together), a Get yashan (the couple were alone together between the writing and the giving of the Get), a Safek Eshes Ish (Mi'un after Nisu'in), one who divorced on condition that he will die from his current illness, a divorced couple who spent the night in an inn, and Kidushin with a Perutah or something worth a Perutah.
 Zecharya 8:19
 Beraishit Rabba 4:6
 Beraishit 1:4
 Iyov 25:2
 Beraishit Rabba 4:7
 Uktzin 3:12
 see Derech Chaim on 1:3
 Shabbat 119b
 Taanit 11a - דבי רבי שילא אמרי שני מלאכי השרת המלוין לו לאדם הן מעידין עליו שנאמר (תהילים צא) כי מלאכיו יצוה לך
 Kiddushin 30b
 Mishlei 4:3
 see, for instance Malachi 2:6: תורת אמת הייתה בפיהו "Torah of truth was in his mouth"; Tehilim 119:142: ותורתך אמת "Your Torah is true"; Nehemiah 9:13: ותיתן להם משפטים ישרים ותורות אמת חוקים ומצוות טובים "You gave them... laws (Torahs) of truth"; et al.
 In his introduction to his peirush on the Torah. Interestingly, he prefaces this statement with: יש בידנו קבלה של אמת
 Shabbos 55a
 Yechezkel 10:10
 Rashi to Bamidbar 16:1 quotes Midrash Tanchuma Korach 4/Sh'mot Rabba 18:5
 Breishit 25:27
 Micha 7:20
 Mishlei 3:17
 Berachot 64a
 Isaiah 54:13
 At the end of the sugya previously mentioned, at the bottom of Sanhedrin 110a; also cited in Bava Batra 47a