Korach was proclaiming a principle that we often hear in our times – everyone is equal, KI CHOL HA’EDAH KULAM KEDOSHIM, “…for the entire assembly – all of them – are holy…”. (Num. 16,3) In fact the United States Declaration of Independence claims that “all men are created equal”. What was wrong with his contention?
His error was in one word which he added to his argument – holy. Yes, everyone is created equal but that refers to rights and freedom and liberties. It does not refer to holiness. Holiness is something that a person must acquire through his own efforts. We are taught that we are all born with a pure soul. What we do with it during our lifetime makes us different.
Holiness is something a person must strive to attain. One must make a genuine effort to live a holy life. It is not a gift. It is an achievement. Korach thought because he was born a Levite he was entitles to the same benefits of holiness as Moshe. He was incapable of distinguishing between himself and the greatness and holiness of a man like Moshe.
In life we are not entitled to everything on a silver platter. There are certain things we must earn.