The Torah discusses the dispute of our parsha again in parshas Pinchas, but over there it says
…in the company of Korach, when they incited against Hashem (Bamidbar 26:9)
The question is obvious: In this week’s parsha, it seems that Korach’s dispute was with Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon Hakohen, but as far as Bnei Yisrael’s belief in Hashem, it was steadfast. Yet the above pasuk seems to say Korach argued with Hashem. To answer this question at a simple level, it seems that since Moshe was Hashem’s representative, Korach chose to fight with Moshe; Hashem was only the secondary player in the argument.
But this answer does not completely match the above pasuk, which indicates that the primary object of Korach’s dispute was Hashem. To answer this, we can look at the Medrash in Tehillim (Perek 2) which says “…al Hashem v’al meshicho” “…fighting with Hashem and his anointed one.” This implies that Hashem was the primary object of Korach’s wrath, and the secondary object was the anointed one, who was Aharon Hakohen. See Tiferes Shlomo for a full explanation.
To understand this better, let’s look at a real-life example: The proverbial argument between husband and wife over squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom vs. the top. We all understand that this argument has nothing to do with the tube of toothpaste, but rather a dispute between the spouses over respect, or whose position is more important in the marriage.
In Korach’s case, too, if he would have true, unwavering belief in Hashem, he would unquestionably follow Klal Yisrael’s leaders. Hence, the Tiferes Shlomo says that even though Korach was picking a fight with Moshe and Aharon, his real fight was with Hashem—thus בְּהַצֹּתָם עַל ה’ (26:9).
Many times people ask questions such as “Do the Rabbis really have to legislate in a certain area?” (Is there an area that they don’t—or are not even obligated to—legislate?) That question must be evaluated to see if the person is really looking for a way to cast off the yoke of Torah and Hashem, as well as the Rabbis whose job is to make the Torah usable in our daily lives. Does this person want to understand the relevance of the specific issue from a Torah perspective as the “Rabbis” do? I heard once from a cousin of mine the following statement: We may ask how or why, but only as a question with a question mark at the end, but not with an exclamation point which is expressing a challenge.
In recent times there has come a new movement called “Open Orthodoxy” questioning the superiority of halacha, while at the same time professing to follow it. Yet, when one reads what they say (which one should not do!), it is clear that their stance is of defiance of the Torah, our Mesorah and Hashem. It is not new to klal Yisrael that there are mutations of Judaism that profess to be an extension of the mesorah—these mutations eventually fall to the wayside just as Korach v’adoso were swallowed up and there was no remembrance of them at all. We yearn for the day of “when the World will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem” (Yeshiah 11:9).