In this week’s Parsha, when Moshe hears Korach’s complaint, he falls to his face. Rashi explains that this was the fourth sin of the Jewish people in the desert, and Moshe had lost the energy to pray for them. Rashi gives a parable of the son of the king who angers his father. The first three times, the son asks for and is granted forgiveness; by the fourth time, he is concerned that his father will not listen to him.
The Ramban adds that the Torah uses the word ויפל and he fell, not ויפלו, and they fell, because Ahron, being the humble and holy person that he was, didn’t intend to respond at all. When Ahron fell, he fell with him only to follow Moshe’s example, not because he felt that he should. This is an unbelievable level of humility and holiness of Ahron: although Korach was fighting against him for the priesthood, he did not feel that it was necessary to respond and defend his position.
Reb Elya Baruch Finkel points out that this is the trait that made Ahron the Kohen Gadol in the first place, and shows us the greatest difference between Ahron and Korach. Korach was actively seeking to become the Kohen Gadol. Ahron, on the other hand, was embarrassed to approach the altar, feeling that he did not deserve to perform the service. Chazal explain that when Ahron was embarrassed to approach the altar, Moshe told him that your being embarrassed is exactly the reason why you were chosen. Precisely because you didn’t feel that you deserved this honor is the very reason that it was given to you. Reb Elya Baruch continues that this is the explanation of the Gemara which states that whoever chases after honor, honor will run from him; whoever runs from honor, honor will find him.
The thirst and desire for honor is the difference between Ahron and Korach. Ahron, who didn’t feel he was deserving of the honor, was the one who was accorded the honor; Korach, who pursued the honor, was destroyed chasing it.
We can use this as a test of true leadership. Is the person like Ahron or like Korach: someone who chases honor or a person whom honor chases?