16:1 Korach took…
The Baal Haturim quotes the verse in Koheles (5:12) that says “Wealth kept by its owner is to his detriment”. The Medrash tells us “How did Korach persuade people to follow him? He bought them, as it states ‘Vayikach Korach’” This was the beginning of his downfall. On this verse in Koheles, the Medrash equates Korach to Haman. Haman, too, paid an exorbitant fee to dispose of the Jews. Chazal say about both of them that the monies which they had were not really theirs, but they grabbed the money improperly (see Daas Zekanim Bamidbar 32:1).
There is a question which I saw posed: Why is it that not only Korach had to be disposed of, but also all his material possessions as well? Even when the Bnei Yisrael fought and were victorious over the idol worshippers, not all of the spoils had to be quarantined and then destroyed – in fact the spoils were kept by the Jews. Why was it therefore necessary to destroy all the possessions of Korach and his cohorts?
I saw an answer based on a gemora which tells us of the spiritual ecosystem of the world. If Reuven lost money which was later found by a poor man, Shimon, then Reuven gets reward for helping Shimon the poor man. Why should this be? Not only did Reuven not have intention to give charity to Shimon, but Reuven didn’t even have any control over his lost money to direct it towards Shimon and not to anyone else. Yet we understand that at the end of the day, Reuven was the conduit through which goodness came about, and he therefore deserves recognition. Hence, we see that there is always a trail of cause and effect to every action and item in the world.
If the source is rotten to the core, eventually it will contaminate that which it affects. Since Korach went wayward because of and through his money, that money could not be recycled in a way that would bring about eventual productivity.
Upon pondering this idea, I came to a realization of ‘the power of the Jew’. The physical money that Korach had was originally ‘kosher’. Only when he took it illegitimately did he pervert it to the point of no return. If this is true on the negative side, then it is true all the more so on a positive vein. An example of this is the halachic ruling that even an Amalekite can be injected with holiness and be turned into an eternal Jew (see Maharal on this subject).
With this in mind, we must realize that it is incorrect to say we were given negative goods and how are we expected expect to turn them around? We have it within our power to change even the worst of things, not only into something positive, but possibly even to something eternal.