Points to Ponder

Korach 5776

And Korach took (16:1) – Rashi cites the famous Midrash about how Korach challenged the ideas of a Tallis which was covered in Techeiles. Rav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz ztl. quoted Rav Leib Chasman ztl. who noted that Moshe never answered this question. That is simply because sometimes questions are not meant to be asked, they are merely stated in order to take down the truth. Rav Michel Yehudah ztl. added that the entirety of this Parsha teaches us how dangerous mockery, honor and Leitzanus can be and that the only way to deal with it is to move on from it.


Boker – in the Morning (16:5) - In this week's Parsha Moshe Rabbeinu tells Adas Korach that "in the morning" Hashem will demonstrate who the chosen individuals to serve as kohanim and leviim are(Bamidbar 16:5). Rashi quotes the Midrash that the phrase in the passuk has yet an added connotation: "boker - morning"  which indicates that just as Hashem has set borders between day and night, so too has He distinguished between kohanim, leviim, and yisraelim. Rav Schachter Shlita would often remind us that the Torah too, represents the boundaries distinguishing between the muttar and the assur. There is a broad two dimensional area of muttar, and not just a straight line. In the Torah way, we don't have to be careful not to get "out of line", rather we have to be careful not to cross over the border (gevulos).

Woe to you sons of Levi (16:7) – The Gemara informs us that as a result of Moshe’s use of the word “Rav” he too, was punished with the use of the words Rav LAch in regard to his prayers about entering Eretz Yisrael. Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. asks why he needed to be punished if, after all, he was correct? Moeover, if he were being punished, was it not fo the Avaira he did later with the rock – What is its connection to the word “Rav” ?  Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. answers that Moshe was not sensitive to their request. He should have been sensitive in telling the people that their desires for religious expression were not the will of Hashem. In return, when he needed to receive the same message – for that was the only reason he was going into Eretz Yisrael – he was also told to hold off on the expression – Rav Lach.

Was it not enough that they took us from a land flowing with milk and honey (16:13) – Rashbam and Ibn Ezra make it clear that Dasan and Aviram are referring to Mitzrayim here. In fact this is the only time out of 20 references where the land flowing with milk and honey refers to something other than Eretz Yisrael. Why is that such an important praise? Rav Elchanan Samet Shlita explains that the praise is an awareness of the continuation of the effortless economic expansion available to the Land of Canaan. Simply put, in addition to being able to effortlessly produce produce (See Devarim 11:9-11) the land of Canaan also can effortlessly produce honey and milk through its animals effortlessly – creating a bounty of their product. It is juxtaposed there with Eretz Mitzrayim which cannot boast those claims. Accordingly, Rav Samet points out that Dasan and Aviram were engaging in hyperbole when they challenged Moshe calling Eretz Mitzrayim the one with milk and honey.

If Hashem creates a creation (16:30) – Ramban and Sforno point out that there seems to be a creation here that was Yeish MeAyin. Why? Rav Gifter Ztl. explained that Korach and his cohorts wanted to change the order of creation by trying to change the Torah’s orders. If they received the punishment prescribed by the Torah it would only serve to prove that the Torah was indeed corrupt in favor of Moshe. The unique death proved that it was the will of Hashem that punished this evil cohort.

And all of the property (16: 32) – Why did all of the property need to be taken as well? Sforno notes that it was so that Tzaddikim would not benefit from anything associated with these people. Rav Chaim Kanievski Shlita adds that it was the Korach wealth that led him to be a Baal Gaava. That same wealth needed to be removed lest it corrupt someone else.

And it blossomed into flowers, budded and gave off almonds (17:23) – Rav Shmuel Brazil Shlita notes that Korach’s challenge flew directly in the face of just who a Kohein is supposed to be. Kohanim are Zrizim to help their people. Hence, like the almonds, they blossom fast.  He adds that part of the daily Beracha that they offer – Yisa Hashem Panav Eilecha v’Yasem Lecha Shalom is Gematria of VaYigmol Shekeidim.

Haftorah: If you fear Hashem and Serve him and listen to his word and do not rebel against the word of Hashem (Shmuel Alef 12:14) – Rav Zalman Sorotzkin ztl. notes that one can fear Hashem, do the Mitzvos and follow his word and still violate Hashem’s plans in order to be considered rebellious. This is one of the great challenges of the Yetzer. One can look pious and act pious and not be pious.