This past weeks Torah reading was found in Numbers 16:1- 18: It is the story of Korah and some of the men of Israel challenging Moses and Aaron being leader and High Priest of Israel. Adonai didn’t take to that very kindly and destroyed Korah and all who followed such nonsense. Can you imagine Lineage of High Priest being from Korah and not Aaron. The blessing would not be Aaronic but Koranian!
When you study this passage by the Numbers it is very interesting and apropos to the time and season the world is experiencing today.
In this week’s Torah portion, Korah the Levite led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron along with the help of some other “men of renown.” At the heart of Korah’s rebellion is a desire to not just minister in the Tabernacle but to usurp priesthood from Aaron the High Priest and his descendants. The Hebrew word for “priesthood” is kehuna. Kehuna (priesthood) and hakohen (the priest) both have a numeric value of 80.
In Hebrew, we write the number 80 with the letter Peh, which means “mouth.” Eighty is both the number of the priesthood and the mouth. This connection makes sense because at the heart of priestly service is the use of the mouth/peh to praise, pray, and intercede on behalf of the people. Our mouths can either be used for good to bring blessing in fulfillment of our priestly calling or for evil, stirring up dissension like Korah. Those who use their mouths for harmful purposes such as gossip, slander, and manipulation “will be [spiritually] unclean”/tamei yih- yeh, which adds up to 80.
There is authentic power in the peh, the mouth. We are currently in the Decade of the Peh, 5780, on the Hebrew calendar. Eighty is also the number of “breakthrough.” Paratz, the Hebrew word for “breakthrough,” begins with the letter peh. This detail teaches us that the peh (the mouth) is foundational for breakthrough. Life and death are in the power tongue, or one could say, “the mouth.” Spiritual, emotional, and material breakthrough begins with prayer, praise, and the declaration of God’s promises.
We can see this fact in two ways. First, the Hebrew word for “heal” is rapha , whose middle letter is a peh . This arrangement is no accident. It points to the truth that spoken prayer and blessing are central to releasing God’s healing power.
Secondly, the phrase “with salt”/be-malach also equals 80. The Israelites were required to offer every sacrifice with salt. The ultimate purpose of the sacrifices was to draw one near to God. In the same way, words that are “seasoned with salt” bring us closer to the Lord and others.
Never underestimate the power of the peh /mouth! We must make sure we do not allow our mouth to be like that of Korah, but rather our speech must be positive, uplifting, and kind. As Paul exhorts us, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, to know how you ought to answer everyone” (Col 4:6).