Jun 23, 2021


This week, Jews around the world are reading the section of the Torah describing the rebellion of Korach and the ensuing divine retribution.

And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korach, and all their goods. Numbers 16:32

In an astounding case of synchronicity, sinkholes have suddenly started appearing around the world. A large sinkhole appeared in Jerusalem on Monday, in a parking lot adjacent to Shaarei Tzedek (the gates of mercy) Hospital in Jerusalem. Several cars were swallowed up, falling into the sinkhole. Emergency services were called to the site and after a search, it was determined that the cars were empty when they fell into the hole. According to reports, the collapse was the result of nearby construction work which included a tunnel running under the site. The tunnel showed signs of partial collapse. 

On Saturday, a huge sinkhole opened up in Santa María Zacatepec, in Mexico’s Puebla State. It quickly grew to over 300 feet wide and filled with water. It is estimated to be about 65 feet deep. Normally sinkholes develop slowly but this hole grew to its final massive size in less than one week.


Also on Saturday, a large sinkhole suddenly opened up in the middle of a busy street in Jiangxi Province, China. A car fell into the hole but the driver was reportedly saved by bystanders. The motorist was admitted to a nearby hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Though not quite as recent, the Turkish countryside has been hit by a wave of sinkholes, many shockingly large. The phenomenon was attributed to an ongoing drought.  The holes appear when underground caverns created by drought can no longer contain the weight of the layer of soil above. Professor Fetullah Arik has counted around 600 sinkholes in the Konya plain, where he heads the Sinkhole Research Centre at the Konya Technical University—nearly double the 350 counted last year.



 A Midrash related by the Talmudic commentary called Tosafot (Kiddushin 31B) describes how Korach’s punishment is connected to the appearance of the Third Temple. The Tosafot asks why Psalm 82 is described as a  ‘Mizmor’, a joyous song,  when it’s the subject matter is the tragedies accompany the destruction of the Temple.  The Tosafot explains that Asaf, a descendant of Korach, saw the salvation of his ancestor in the destruction of the Temple and Israel.

This is compared to a maidservant who went to draw water from the well and whose pitcher fell into the well. She became distraught and began to cry – until the king’s maidservant came to draw water carrying a golden pitcher, and it too fell into the well. At which point the first maidservant began to sing. ‘Till now’ she exclaimed, I didn’t think that anybody would retrieve my cheap earthenware pitcher from the well. But now, whoever retrieves the golden pitcher, will retrieve mine as well!’ In the same way, when the sons of Korach, who were swallowed up inside the earth, saw how the gates of the Temple sunk into the ground, proclaimed ‘Whoever rescues the gates will also rescue us!’ That explains why Asaf, who was from the family of Korach, said ‘Mizmor.’