The Kedushat Levi on Korach
Hagaon Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov zt”l on Parshat Korach(from Kedushat Levi)
Salt and the Leviim
The Torah follows the story of Korach with a number of halakhot relating to gifts given to the Kohanim and Leviim. G-d calls His covenant with Aharon to give him teruma and the other priestly gifts a "Brit Melach Olam," "an eternal covenant of salt (Bemidbar 18:19)." Rashi comments that salt is used as an image for a covenant because it lasts, never decaying or rotting.
The Kedushat Levi notes that this image is purposely used here. Salt itself is a symbol of one of the central messages of the Korach episode.
Korach wanted to wipe out the distinction between Leviim and Kohanim, with all of the Leviim doing the service previously limited to Aharon and his sons. G-d's lesson to them and the people of Israel was that it is important to have two different levels, Kohanim and Leviim. What is the distinction between them?
The Kedushat Levi (drawing from mystical sources) explains that Kohanim are connected with the trait of chesed, lovingkindness, whereas Leviim are connected with gevura, restraint, judgement, and might. Korach wanted unbridled chesed, unchecked by the borders and discipline of gevura. G-d taught him and the people of Israel that judgement, borders, and restraint are essential for the world. Chesed must be mixed with gevura to form rachamim (the combination of the two).
Salt is the ideal image for this mix. Salt is the "fire within the water." It includes within it the characteristics of both water (chesed) and fire (gevura and din). After the Korach episode it is now appropriate to use salt as an image for the covenant.
[prepared by Eliezer Kwass]
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