The scoffer Korach used matters connected with the soil as his subjects of study. Later, he made fun of Torah legislation involving sheep, as mentioned in the Midrash. In all this he paralleled the behavior of Cain, who first brought a gift of the fruit of the earth. Cain's brother, Abel, on the other hand, brought an offering from the firstborn of his sheep. Cain brought flax; Abel brought wool. We know that there was a great deal of difference between the offering of Cain and the offering of Abel, as G‑d refused to accept the offering of Cain. This is why wearing a mixture of wool and flax (i.e. linen) called "kelayim" in Hebrew, is forbidden in Jewish law. (see Leviticus 19:19) It is well known that Kabbalists have said that Korach was the reincarnation of Cain. Tzipporah… was the gilgul of the extra twin that had been born with Abel…

Cain had to undergo three gilgulim, one each for his Nefesh, his Ruach, and his Neshama. His incarnations included the Egyptian whom Moses slew and Yitro, Moses' father-in-law, as alluded to in Judges. (4:17) In that verse Jael is described as the wife of Chever Hakeyni, the word "Hakeyni" being a reference to her being a descendant of Cain. He reappeared in the guise of Korach. Moses, on the other hand, was a reincarnation of Abel, whom Cain had killed. Moses took revenge on behalf of Abel on three separate occasions:

1) When he killed the Egyptian, who was the reincarnation of Cain's Nefesh. This is hinted at in the wording "…and he struck the Egyptian/vayach et ha mitzri"; the numerical value of "vayach", when you add one digit for the word itself, equals the numerical value of "hevel/Abel", 37. The word "hamitzri" equals the numerical value of "Moshe/Moses", 345.

2) Jethro deferred to Moses by giving him his daughter Tzipporah as a wife. She was the gilgul of the extra twin that had been born with Abel, and on whose account Cain had slain Abel out of jealousy. When Korach now started a quarrel he simply reverted to the pattern in which his original ancestor Cain had acted.

The serpent's motivation had been its jealousy of Eve…

3) Moses then killed him (i.e. caused his death), fulfilling the Torah's commandment that if someone has shed innocent blood, his own blood will be spilled by human hand. (Gen. 9:6) We must understand that verse as telling us that the very person who has been slain, will in due course slay his murderer. This is why we find Moses, who was in reality the reincarnation of Abel, slaying Korach, who was the reincarnation of Cain. The fact that Korach's death was due to the earth swallowing him was also an example of the punishment fitting the crime, since the same earth had been remiss when it opened to hide the evil deed that Cain had committed, "covering" his blood (see Gen. 4:10-11).

The Zohar refers to Cain as "unclean jealousy, jealousy of menstruation" and describes the very birth of Cain as due to the pollutant the serpent had injected into Eve. The serpent's motivation had been its jealousy of Eve. Similarly Korach was jealous of the appointment of Elitzafan to the position of prince of the Kehatites. We find therefore that Korach had been infected with this pollutant of the original serpent.

[Translated and adapted by Eliyahu Munk.]