The Name of the Parsha
It is written in Proverbs, "The name of the wicked will rot" (10:7), on which the Talmud comments, "Let mold grow upon their names, for we do not use their names" (Yoma 38a).
This begs the question: How could the Torah eternalize the name of Korach, a wicked man who did not repent in his lifetime, by calling an entire parsha by his name?
While Korach was indeed wicked in his deeds, he nevertheless harbored a desire which is appropriate for every Jewish person to emulate: He wanted to be the High Priest. As Rambam writes, "Any type of person...whose spirit inspires him, and he resolves in his mind to set himself apart [from worldly pursuits], to stand before God and serve as His minister, to work for Him, and to know God; who [then acts upon his resolution and he] goes in amorally upright manner - following his inherent, God-given disposition, and he discards all the numerous concerns that people are normally preoccupied with - then he will attain the holiness of the Holy of Holies" i.e. the spiritual level of the High Priest.
Thus Korach was not corrupt in his ideology, but only in his method of implementation. His desire to be High Priest was well founded, as Moshe confirmed, "I too want this" (Rashi to 16:6); his only mistake was attempting to achieve this goal by usurping Moshe, rather than following him.
So it is appropriate that our Parsha is named after Korach, for his desire for spirituality is something we should all learn from.
Nevertheless, we see that most of the Parsha speaks of Korach's actual mistakes, rather than his good intentions, to the extent that we are warned, "not to be like Korach and his company" (17:5). Where then, is the positive message in Korach's sin and punishment?
In truth, however, even Korach's downfall tell an uplifting message to those who ponder its significance deeply. For be placing us in this world with free choice to act wisely or foolishly, God has ultimately granted us the greatest possible gift to strive for holiness (to be a "High Priest") by utilizing our talents and skills for the good on our own, with our own free choice.
Thus, from Korach's well meaning failure, we can learn: a.) To emulate his good intentions; and b.) The possibility of real failure (which Korah suffered) means that freedom of choice is totally in our hands, and consequently real success is an option for us all.Here is also a link to Chief Rabbi Sacks on Parshas Korach
-- (Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Korach 5750)
The Gutnick Edition, Chumash, The Book of Numbers, pg. 129
Good Shabbos! Shabbat Shalom!