In standard Chumashim, the number of pesukim is listed at the end of each parshah along with a siman to remember that number. Parshas Korach contains 95 pesukim, with a very perplexing siman: “Daniel.”
The gematria of “Daniel” is 95, but why attach the name of such a saintly man to the likes of Korach who rebelled against Moshe and Aharon and was swallowed by the earth as punishment?
I would have chosen “Haman” as a siman. Haman is also 95, and Korach and Haman certainly have a lot in common. Both rebelled against the gadol hador of the time, and both were motivated by pride: Korach desired the nesius of Elitzafan ben Uziel and the office of the kohen gadol, and Haman wished to take revenge against Mordechai who refused to bow down to him.
Both were also egged on by their wives. Zeresh incited Haman, and Korach’s wife said to Korach, “Look at Moshe Rabbeinu! He took the top spot for himself, gave the next spot to his brother, gave the deputy priest to his nephew, and then awarded them all terumah. Even the ma’aser he gave you isn’t completely yours. He made you give terumas ma’aser from it to the kohanim. Finally, he made the ultimate mockery of you by making you shave and waving you like a puppet!”
Korach and Haman were also both brought down by their wealth. Both were fabulously wealthy, and the Midrash informs us that very wealthy people become impudent. Korach and Haman also both ultimately lost all their wealth. Korach’s was swallowed up together with him while Haman’s was given to Mordechai.
Finally, both Korach and Haman died together with their families. Korach and his family were swallowed alive (except for his sons who did teshuvah at the very last minute), and Haman and his 10 sons were hung together (which is why we read the 10 sons of Haman in one breath when leining Megillas Esther).
Perhaps “Haman” would not make a good siman because we say about him, “Yimach shemo v’zichro – May his name and remembrance be blotted out.” Using his name as a siman would just perpetuate his memory. In addition, as bad as Korach was, he wasn’t in the same league as Haman. He was a talmid chacham, carried the Aron, and never plotted to commit genocide.
Still, why use “Daniel” as the siman for this parshah?
R’ Dovid Feinstein, shlit”a, suggests that Daniel is an anagram of din Keil (the judgment of the Almighty). This siman is relevant to Parshat Korach because we see Hashem’s strict judgment clearly when the ground swallows Korach and all his followers, together with their families, even infants.
While this is a fascinating answer, it seems to me that the siman should then have been “din Keil,” not “Daniel.” I would therefore like to suggest a different answer based on the answer to another question: Why name a parshah after Korach? He rebelled against Moshe Rabbeinu and instigated a terrible machlokes, one of the greatest poisons known to man. So why name a Torah portion after him? Why give him such an honor? Would we name a yeshiva or a shul after him?
In Likutei Sichos, we find the following fascinating answer: The parshah is called Korach because we can learn something admirable from him. What did he covet? A Lamborghini? A home in the Hamptons? A vacation on the Riviera? To become a partner in a prestigious law firm? No, he desired to become kohen gadol.
A kohen gadol doesn’t go to ball games, eat out in restaurants, stroll in parks, or hang out with friends. He can’t even contaminate himself by going to the funeral of his own sibling, child, or parent! He is totally davuk to Hashem, totally dedicated to Hashem. We can learn from such spiritual ambition, and therefore a parshah is named after Korach.
With this point from the Likutei Sichos in mind, we can understand why “Daniel” is used as a siman for Parshas Korach. Daniel was the quintessential servant of Hashem – so much so that the name Daniel in Hebrew is an anagram for “la’Hashem.”
May we merit to always shteig to improve in spirituality and, in that merit, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.