5781

Motivation for Machlokes

The Parsha begins ויקח קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי ודתן ואבירם בני אליאב ואון בן פלת בני ראובן. This coalition was made up of a group of individuals who were all seeking different things, some the נשיאות and some the כהונה. Although און בן פלת didn’t really have a claim, it could be that he was the man behind the ideological טענה of כל העדה כלם קדשים ובתוכם יקוק ומדוע תתנשאו על קהל ה'. About him, the Gemara Sanhedrin 109b says און - שישב באנינות which seems to say that he was a sad and miserable person.

דתן ואבירם were there as they seem to be professional trouble makers who gave Moshe Rabbeinu difficulty from the beginning. About them, the Pasuk in Shemos 2:13 says שני אנשים עברים נצים and in Pinchas 26:10 the Pasuk says הוא דתן ואבירם קרואי העדה אשר הצו על משה ועל אהרן בעדת קרח בהצתם על ה'. So we see that it’s one long trail of נצו with דתן ואבירם from start to finish.

But whatever each of their individual agendas were, they were all united for the sole purpose of rebelling against Moshe Rabbeinu. על דרך הצחות, this could be a meaning of the Gemara Brachos 64a that says תלמידי חכמים מרבים שלום בעולם, because people unite and find common ground in order to fight and challenge the תלמידי חכמים.

Regarding people fighting against Talmidei Chachamim, Reb Elazar Fleckeles, who was a תלמיד חבר of the Noda B’yehudah and a member of his Beis Din faced much opposition from his various Rabbanus positions. In his Hakdamah to his Sefer שו"ת תשובה מאהבה, he briefly describes his story and writes that his Bala Batim hated him much more than he was a Talmid Chacham. He then writes in Parentheses ובזה נתיישב לי קושיות התוס' and writes that Chazal say that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of שנאת חנם. However Tosfos in Baba Metziah 30b asks that it says in many places that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of עזבם את תורתי, meaning ביטל תורה. So Tosfos answers דהא והא גרמא, that they both were causes. He explains this based on the Gemara in Pesachim 49b גדולה שנאה ששונאין עמי הארץ לתלמיד חכם, יותר משנאה ששונאין אומות העולם את ישראל. An עם הארץ will hate a person who he thinks is a Talmid Chacham but he might not be one and it’s just the עם הארץ doesn’t know who is and who isn’t a Talmid Chacham. This leads to שנאת חנם because if he really isn’t a Talmid Chacham, then he doesn’t really have a reason to hate him. So now that the sin which caused the Churban is עזבם את תורתי, that results in people not being Talmidei Chachamim which causes שנאת חנם because now the עמי הארץ are hating them for no reason. That’s how both reasons, שנאת חנם and ביטל תורה, caused the Churban.

Smart and Successful

On the Pasuk רב לכם בני לוי, Rashi writes וקרח שפקח היה. It’s not so clear from where Rashi knew that Korach was a פקח but we could say jokingly that because he was very wealthy, as the Gemara in Sanhedrin says, and people assume that wealth and success comes with being smart. This idea is found in the מצודת ציון in יהושע פרק א פסוק . The Pasuk says למען תשכיל בכל אשר תלך and the מצודת ציון writes ענינו הצלחה וכו' כי המצליח נראה להבריות שעשה מעשיו בהשכל that people think successful people are smart. But the truth of the matter is that it’s not the case, and not that they are exclusive of each other, but just because someone is wealthy is not indicative of whether or not he is smart. There is a joke about the Gvir who lost his money and he says to himself that he understands why they don’t come to him anymore for money but how come they stopped coming for עצות.

On a side note, how do we know that Korach was wealthy? The velt says jokingly that usually when a rich person dies, people find out that he didn’t really have as much money as people thought he had. But by Korach, since he was buried with all his money, we still think he had money.

Disregarding the Obvious

Rashi says וקרח שפקח מה היה ראה לשטות זה, עינו הטעתו, ראה שלשלת גדולה יוצאה ממנו, שמואל ששקול כנגד משה ואהרן. אמר בשבילו אני נמלט. It must be that Korach had רוח הקודש for him to be able to see that his descendent would be Shmuel.

But how could it be someone as smart as Korach who had רוח הקודש could make such a mistake and create a rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu? The answer could be because sometimes great people can see the future far head and they focus on that and turn a blind eye on the here and now. One of the חכמי אומות העוחם once said that the pitfall of great scholars is that they disregard the obvious. They get so attracted by all the different details and צדדים in the theory that they disregard the obvious. A person is a חכם when he is הרואה את הנולד but not when he is only רואה את הנולד. A real חכם could also see the here and now and that which is in front of him. So Korach had the ability to see the שלשלת גדולה that was going to come from him but he couldn’t see the here and now, right in front of him.

Absolute Truth and Relative Truth

The Rabbeinu Bachyeh writes in Parshas Korach (טז,כט) that there are many difficult things to explain logically such as why the babies had to dies as well when the ground opened up. So he says if we try to explain it בדרך הפשט, then there are many question and therefore the only way to explain it is בדרך הקבלה. He says that the people of קרח ועדתו were really גלגולים of the אנשי סדום and the דור הפלגה and he brings similarities between the Psukim in Parshas Korach and the Psukim that discuss אנשי סדום and the דור הפלגה as follows:

ואמנם אם בקשנו להלום פרשה זו בדרך הפשט יקשה עלינו כל זאת, אבל אי אפשר להולמה כי אם בדרך הקבלה הנאמנה. והנני רומז רמזים, שמענה ואתה דע לך. תמצא בדור הפלגה: (בראשית יא, ד) “הבה נבנה לנו עיר ומגדל וראשו בשמים ונעשה לנו שם”, וכתיב: בהם “וזה החלם לעשות”, ותמצא באנשי סדום: (בראשית יט, ד) “ואנשי העיר אנשי סדום נסבו על הבית”, ובאר הכתוב כי אנשי העיר והמגדל הם אנשי סדום, ואמר עליהם: (בראשית יט, יא) “ואת האנשים אשר פתח הבית הכו בסנורים”, ותמצא באנשי סדום, “ואנשי העיר”, ובפרשה זו בעדת קרח: “ויקומו לפני משה”, והיה ראוי לומר “על משה”, אבל רמז כי היו לפני משה, ומפני זה קראם “אנשי שם”, ותרגם אונקלוס: “ויקח” ואתפליג, רמז על דור הפלגה, והזכיר בכאן בענשם: “העיני האנשים ההם תנקר”, כמי שמפחיד חברו במכה שכבר באה לו וכו' כן דור הפלגה שכתוב בהם: “וזה החלם לעשות”, מה עשה, “הפיצם”, ואנשי סדום “הכם בסנורים”, ועדת קרח “נאבדו מן העולם” כי היו ראוין שיעקרו מן העולם, והנה כוונת הש"י שהוא עושה חסד לאלפים היתה בטלה בהם.

It must be understood what the connection is between what the people of the דור הפלגה did, what the אנשי סדום did, and what קרח ועדתו did.

In the beginning of the Parsha, the Pasuk says בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי. On why the Pasuk doesn’t mention בן יעקב, Rashi writes the following:

ולא הזכיר בן יעקב, שבקש רחמים על עצמו שלא יזכר שמו על מחלוקתם, שנאמר (בראשית מט, ו) ובקהלם אל תחד כבודי. והיכן נזכר שמו על קרח, בהתיחסם על הדוכן בדברי הימים, שנאמר (ד"ה א' ו, כב - כג) בן אביאסף בן קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי בן ישראל

The Ohr HaChaim points out that the fact that Rashi needs to provide an explanation as to why it doesn’t go back to even a fourth generation to say בן יעקב indicates that really it should have gone back another generation. It’s just that יעקב was מתפלל and therefore he was spared. The question is why should it have gone back all the way to a fourth generation and mention בן יעקב? Rashi continues and asks והיכן נזכר שמו על קרח that where is Yaakov mentioned along with Korach to which he answers when the Psukim in Divrei Hayamim are discussing the descendants of Korach who were משוררים in the Beis Hamikdash, it says בן אביאסף בן קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי בן ישראל. What is the connection and significance of the fact that in Parshas Korach Yaakov isn’t mentioned but in Divrei Hayamim he is mentioned?

An explanation could be as follows. The reason why Yaakov Avinu should’ve and would’ve been mentioned in this context is because Yaakov is the Midah of אמת as the Pasuk in Micah says תתן אמת ליעקב and therefore there is room to attribute Korachs Machlokes to the תכונת הנפש of ביקוש האמת that was instilled within him from Yaakov Avinu. The basis of Machlokes is when a person is convinced that his truth is the only truth and it’s not flexible and that’s what he’ll fight for. If so, why was Yaakov Avinus Tefilah accepted that he should be mentioned?

There is a famous Medrash in Parshas Breishis that talks about the creation of man and says as follows:

א"ר סימון בשעה שבא הקדוש ברוך הוא לבראת את אדם הראשון, נעשו מלאכי השרת כיתים כיתים, וחבורות חבורות, מהם אומרים אל יברא, ומהם אומרים יברא, הה"ד (תהלים פה) חסד ואמת נפגשו צדק ושלום נשקו, חסד אומר יברא שהוא גומל חסדים, ואמת אומר אל יברא שכולו שקרים, צדק אומר יברא שהוא עושה צדקות, שלום אומר אל יברא דכוליה קטטה, מה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא נטל אמת והשליכו לארץ הה"ד (דניאל ח) ותשלך אמת ארצה, אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבון העולמים מה אתה מבזה תכסיס אלטיכסייה שלך, תעלה אמת מן הארץ, הדא הוא דכתיב (תהלים פה) אמת מארץ תצמח

This Medrash is obviously סתרי תורה but there is an obvious question. The set up was two against two. חסד and צדק said to create man and אמת and שלום said not to create man. But it only says that Hashem threw the אמת away but the שלום remained and said אל יברא so how was man created. So the יפה תואר explains that once the אמת was dropped, its חד כנגד תרי and חד כנגד תרי is בטל. But in the same way that אמת was dropped in order for man to be created, שלום could’ve been dropped in order to create man as well. What was the significance of אמת specifically being dropped?

The Ketzos Hachoshen, in his Hakdamah, writes about the concept of ותשלך אמת ארצה. He explains that there are two types of truth. There is absolute truth and relative truth. Man couldn’t be created on the level of absolute truth because man isn’t capable of accessing absolute truth. ותשלך אמת ארצה was מחדש that אמת doesn’t need to be the absolute truth rather אמת is what is perceived by humans as true and that is the truth that man goes by. Therefore, man could be created with the אמת of ותשלך אמת ארצה. The Ketzos goes on to discuss Chidushei Torah how they don’t need to be absolute אמת and it becomes Torah as long as it is אמת to the one who being מחדש the חידוש. Of course this has parameters, but the idea is that within the parameters of אמת, there is room for different shades of truth.

שלום said אל יברא because דכוליה קטטה. Why is man כוליה קטטה? The reason is because every person thinks his truth is the only truth and that is the root cause of the קטטה. But when people deal with אמת as a relative truth, meaning my truth can be true to me and your truth can be true to you, we realize כשם שאין שני פרצופים שווים – כך אין שתי דעות שוות and then a Machlokes doesn’t become a קטטה. One can have an argument but it’s not a feud. So the ותשלך אמת ארצה accomplished that man isn’t כוליה קטטה because in the world of the relative truth, people can get along when they realize what is true to them is not necessarily what is true to another. So Machlokes doesn’t contradict Shalom and therefore man can be created.

According to this, it could be that Korach who only believed in the absolute truth, and didn’t believe in the ותשלך אמת ארצה where the relative truth exists, belongs underneath the ground as the Pasuk says ותפתח הארץ את פיה ותבלע אתם. But Yaakov Avinu, who is the Midah of אמת is also the Midah of תפארת. Avraham Avinu is the Midah of Chessed and Yitzhak Avinu is the Midah of Gevurah and these two are opposites. But Yaakov Avinu, who is the Midah of תפארת is able to synthesize these two Middos together. So Yaakov Avinus אמת is the אמת of ותשלך אמת ארצה because it’s created by synthesizing opposites which can only exist with a relative truth. Therefore, Yaakovs Tefilah was accepted because although Korach represented אמת, it was the wrong type of אמת because he represented absolute truth and Yaakov represents relative truth which is expressed by the fact that Yaakov is also the Midah of תפארת.

But nevertheless Yaakov is mentioned with Korach specifically על הדוכן because the descendants of Korach are the משוררים. שירה is about combining different notes and tones and each has its unique sound but nevertheless doesn’t stand on its own. It’s specifically the combination of the various tones that makes the beautiful music. The Ramak says that תפארת is the combination of colors that creates beauty because something that is one dimensional can’t be beautiful. Similarly, music is the combination of the various tones and therefore it’s על הדוכן that Yaakov Avinu is mentioned with Korach because that is the Tikkun of Korachs mistake because that is the אמת of Yaakov, the אמת of ותשלך אמת ארצה.

The Gemara in Megilah 32a says as follows:

אמר רבי יוחנן: כל הקורא בלא נעימה ושונה בלא זמרה - עליו הכתוב אומר וגם אני נתתי להם חקים לא טובים וגו'

This means that if a person learns without a sing song tune, he’s חייב מיתה because it says לא יחיו. The Gemara then asks מתקיף לה אביי: משום דלא ידע לבסומי קלא משפטים לא יחיו בהם קרית ביה? To which the Gemara then concludes אלא כדרב משרשיא, דאמר: שני תלמידי חכמים היושבים בעיר אחת ואין נוחין זה את זה בהלכה - עליהם הכתוב אומר וגם אני נתתי להם חקים לא טובים ומשפטים לא יחיו בהם. But how does this fit into the previous מימרא because it would seem that we are saying Pshat in the previous מימרא of כל השונה בלא זמרא?

The Rav said in the name of his father that the idea is because כל השונה בלא זמרא, he doesn’t understand that learning is really a song. If he would understand that learning is a song, then he would understand that everyone is playing a different note that makes up the symphony and therefore שני תלמידי חכמים היושבים בעיר אחת ואין נוחין זה את זה בהלכה - עליהם הכתוב אומר וגם אני נתתי להם חקים לא טובים ומשפטים לא יחיו בהם because he doesn’t understand this because really it’s this way and that way and together we make up the symphony. Therefore, this that the Gemara says its referring to two תלמידי חכמים היושבים בעיר אחת, is really an explanation to the מימרא of כל השונה בלא זמרא that when a person learns, he needs to learn in a singing way, meaning with an understanding that Torah is a Shira and each person adds his tune to the niggun.

Continuing in this theme, the קטורת appears twice in the Parsha. Once by ואש יצאה מאת ה' ותאכל את החמשים ומאתים איש מקריבי הקטרת which in this context the קטרת kills and again by ויקח אהרן כאשר דבר משה וירץ אל תוך הקהל והנה החל הנגף בעם ויתן את הקטרת ויכפר על העם: ויעמד בין המתים ובין החיים ותעצר המגפה which in this context the קטרת saves life. So does the קטרת kill or does it save life?

The קטרת has י"א סממנים and if one is missing, חייב מיתה. The smell of the קטרת is created through the combination of various smells, some of which, the חלבנה, independently would not be a pleasant smell. But when they are brought together, it creates a pleasant smell.

Regarding how Moshe Rabbeinu knew that the קטרת saves life, Rashi says רז זה מסר לו מלאך המות כשעלה לרקיע, שהקטרת עוצר המגפה. When Moshe went up to Har Sinai to receive the Torah, the Malachim objected and said the Torah should be given in Shamayim. However, once it was decided that it was to be given on earth, the Malachim gave Moshe Rabbeinu presents and the מלאך המות gave the present of the קטרת. The Ketzos in his Hakdamah, mentioned above, writes that the giving of Torah to humans is the ultimate expression of ותשלך אמת ארצה because Torah will be decided by the Chachamei Yisrael. Even if it’s not true on the level of absolute level, nevertheless, the Halacha becomes what appears true to us. So it’s in this context that the מלאך המות gave Moshe the קטרת because it expresses this idea that there is no one smell, color, or sound that is right. But rather truth is מארץ תצמח that it is achieved through the synthesis of various truths.
So Korach who doesn’t understand the ותשלך אמת ארצה, and views truth as one dimensional, and they don’t understand that the truth is really created by the different shades, colors, smells, tunes and sounds, then the קטרת wipes them out. However, the rest of Klal Yisrael is given life through the קטרת because the קטרת is our source of life because it brings out the idea that אלו ואלו דברי אלוקים חיים.

Getting back to the original question on the Rabbeinu Bachyeh, the explanation could be as follows. Regarding the sin of the דור הפלגה, although Rashi explains they were building the מגדל to war with the Hashem in which case they had an exaggerated sense of self, the Rashbam and the Rabbeinu Bachyeh have a different explanation. The Rashbam writes לפי הפשט מה חטאו דור הפלגה לפי שצום הק' פרו ורבו ומלאו את הארץ, והם בחרו להם מקום לשבת שם ואמרו פן נפוץ, לפי' הפיצם משם בגזרתו.

In contrast to Rashi, the Rashbam explains that the דור הפלגה underestimated their abilities and didn’t feel competent to spread out and carry out the divine mission. They wanted to lead a sheltered life, cuddled with each other similar to life in the Teivah. However, after the Mabul, Hashem commands Noach, with the second time, the ציווי of פרו ורבו ומלאו את הארץ because even after the great fall of the דור המבול, Man is once again entrusted with this divine mission. The Pasuk in Haazinu 32:8 says בהנחל עליון גוים בהפרידו בני אדם יצב גבלת עמים למספר בני ישראל. The way Hashem wants the world to be is בהפרידו בני אדם.

According to this explanation, the פילוג was not a punishment for what they did rather it was Hashem insisting on not allowing mankind to be cuddled up and lead a sheltered life behind closes doors. Hashem was telling them that they must go out and create many nations which will create many types and stripes and that is what will bring the world to its שלימות.

Comes along the people of Sedom, who were גלגולים of the דור הפלגה and they are a reaction to the people of the דור הפלגה. They believed that no one had any business interfering with divine providence. They believed that everything in a person’s life, whether he was rich or poor, successful or unsuccessful, tall or short, was directly affected by divine intervention and any situation a person found himself in was tailor made for him. Therefore, why should a person give Tzedaka or do chessed and help a person out. If a person is poor, then it must be Hashem wants him to be poor and it’s not my business to interfere on his behalf and he has to accomplish and act with the cards that he was dealt. They felt that each person needed to reach self-actualization of their own potential and that no one was to help another reach that potential.

So the אנשי סדום was a reaction to the people of the דור הפלגה because the דור הפלגה wanted everyone to be the same and they didn’t believe in the idea of variety. They didn’t believe in many languages, rather they wanted שפה אחת ודברים אחדים. They didn’t only believe in unity rather they also believed in uniformity. But the אנשי סדום, as a reaction, went to the opposite extreme. They said every person should be an individual so much so that no person should help another because then he is interfering with his ability to be his own way.

Now we come to the עדת קרח and they go back to the approach of the דור הפלגה. They see the approach of the אנשי סדום fail and they revert back to the מהלך of the דור הפלגה, the first extreme. The עדת קרח say כל העדה כלם קדשים ובתוכם ה' ומדוע תתנשאו, that there should be no hierarchy and everyone should be equal and the same. This was the approach of the דור הפלגה.

5780

No Pshat in Machlokes

Rashi begins his commentary on the Parshah by saying פרשה זו יפה נדרשת במדרש רבי תנחומא. The Taz in his sefer Divrei Dovid asks on Rashi that it would seem problematic for Rashi to write such a thing because the Gemara in Eiruvin 64a says כל האומר שמועה זו נאה, וזו אינה נאה - מאבד הונה של תורה and the Gemara proves this from the Pasuk in Mishlei-ורעה זונות יאבד הון. So how was Rashi able to write פרשה זו יפה נדרשת?

The Maharsha points out that it would seem אסור even to just say זו נאה without saying וזו אינה נאה because the Pasuk is only saying זו נאה when it says ורעה זונות. The reason is because by saying זו נאה, you are implying that there is a וזו אינה נאה even if not spoken out. However, the Rashash disagrees and says this איסור is only when saying זו נאה וזו אינה נאה. But to just say זו נאה is not a problem. Therefore, according to the Rashash, there is no question on Rashi how he wrote פרשה זו יפה נדרשת. But according to the Maharsha, the questions remains.

The Taz answers that usually there are two ways to learn something, either the פשט or the מדרש and Rashi always prefers the פשט over the מדרש. But regarding this Parshah, Rashi has no way to learn it על פי פשט therefore the מדרש is the פשוטו. So when Rashi is saying פרשה זו יפה נדרשת, the emphasis is on the נדרשת and not on the יפה, that it’s יפה only נדרשת because in פשט, Rashi has no way of explaining these Psukim.

על דרך הצחות, when it comes to Machlokes, there is no pshat. Even Rashi who usually explains פשוטו של מקרא, when it comes to Machlokes, there is no pshat but can only be explained על פי דרש. Before the First World War, Reb Chaim Brisker said that there wasn’t going to be a war. After the war broke out, they asked him what’s going on. He answered them that in cheshbon, he was right that it doesn’t make sense for any of the sides to go to war. But what could he do if Kaiser Wilhelm has no שכל. The Rav was bringing out the point that when it comes to milchama, על פי פשט it makes no sense, and nevertheless it takes place.

The following story comes from Reb Avraham Mordechai Hirschberg who was a Talmid of the Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin (Father in law of Reb Michel Shurkin) and was a big ilui. When he was eighteen he put out a sefer on Kodshim called מחשת הקודש and it had a Haskama from the Brisker Rav.

When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, the Brisker Rav happened to have been in Warsaw for medical reasons. This Avraham Mordechai Hirschberg came in to the Brisker Rav and he saw that he was distraught. So he asked him why the Rav is so uptight. He responded that he didn’t know what to do because his wife was back at home in Brisk and she wanted him to come home but it was a big סכנה and people were saying to just escape. His wife was telling him that by the First World War, Rabbanim who didn’t stay in their towns didn’t get their rabbanus back and therefore he should come back. So this Avraham Mordechai Hirschberg responded to him with a vort from his grandfather, the Rav in Biala. In Koheles, there are twenty eight עתים, when it says עת ללדת ועת למות וכו'. On all the עתים, Rashi has an explanation except on עת מלחה ועת שלום. So he said because Rashi is a Baal Pshat and in Milchama, you can’t say Pshat. Therefore, Avraham Mordechai Hirschberg as a bochur, said to the Brisker Rav that your derech is על דרך הפשט and therefore when it comes a Milchama, you can’t figure it out. Therefore he advised him to go and ask the Gerrer Rebbe to which he told him, don’t even think about and just escape, and so he did.

This is all woven into the idea that Rashi says פרשה זו יפה נדרשת that when it comes to Machlokes and Milchama, you can’t approach it with Pshat because it doesn’t have to make any sense and therefore the Psukim by Korach don’t have to make sense.

Moshes Leadership

The past few פרשיות, Rashis opening line has been למה נסמכה. Seemingly because the events that were being mentioned were not in the chronological order, and therefore there needed to be a logic to the order. However, when it comes to Korach, Rashi does not ask למה נסמכה. Therefore, it must be that this is the right place chronologically for the story with Korach. This is reinforced by what Rashi says on the Pasuk ויפלו על פניו, the reason being because this was the סרחון רביעי, the third being the חטא המרגלים. (See Rashi in דברים א:א that according to one of the פשטים, the dispute with Korach actually occurred earlier than the חטא המרגלים). If this is the case, why did Korach wait until now to challenge Moshe, he should’ve done it the moment he did the various appointments that he was upset about? In contrast to what the אבן עזרא explains in the beginning of the Parshah that really Korach did not wait and he protested immediately following the appointments in מדבר סיני and the only reason why the Parshah of Korach appears now is because אין מוקדם ומאוחר בתורה.

The Ramban says that it must be that up until this point, although he was upset, he couldn’t get anyone to join him in his revolt against Moshe Rabbeinu because Moshe Rabbeinu was delivering the good and everything was moving in the right direction. But now with the recent events and deaths that occurred at קברות התאוה and it being decreed that the current generation will die in the Midbar because of the sin of the Meraglim, now Korach felt it was an opportune time and the people would join him.

The Rav added to the Ramban that the episode of sending the Meraglim was the first time in his leadership that he had to make a decision on his own. Hashem said to him שלח לך לדעתך, that he wasn’t being commanded to send them rather Hashem was saying you do what you feel is best. As a consequence of Moshe’s decision, everything went wrong, so to speak, and changed the course of Jewish History. Therefore, this was the best time for Korach to launch his revolt. Now Korach felt it was the opportune time to challenge Moshe’s decision as to whether they were God given, or on his own.

But nevertheless we see, that in spite of the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu made a terrible mistake, he remained the רבן של ישראל and the אדון הנביאים. Moshe had to explain to them that the other decisions and things he did were not מלבי and on his own, rather they were על פי נבואה and were therefore not questionable. Only where he was functioning based on his own שכל, he might make a mistake.

But even after Moshe Rabbeinu is proven correct with the prediction of the opening of the ground, something never seen in the history of the world, one would think that he would have silenced the doubters. And yet, Klal Yisrael continue to challenge and question him. They exclaim את המתם את עם ה, accusing Moshe and Aaron of killing the People. As a result, a plague breaks out and Aaron has to run around with the קטורת to stop the plague. Following this incident, Moshe Rabbeinu further needs to prove the validity of Aaron HaKohen with the מטות. Throughout Moshe’s tenure as the leader of the Jewish people, he endured and received so much complaining. He led the people for forty years and experienced tremendous setbacks but that didn’t deter him from pushing on. It’s a lesson of perseverance and resilience.

Now not everybody is a leader of a nation but he is at least a leader to his family, and if not to his family he is at least to himself. The Pasuk in Koheles says עיר קטנה ואנשים בה מעט (ט,יד) and the Meforshim explain that this Pasuk is referring to the human being and his limbs. The Kuzari writes in מאמר ג compares a חסיד to a מושל because every person is in charge of his being. He decides what he looks at, what he hears, and where he goes and has to control them all and lead them in the right direction.

Yet, sometimes the various כוחות within us don’t cooperate, we lose control, and we could Chas Vshalom give up. But the lesson to be learnt is that the true leaders never give up. Like we see with Moshe Rabbeinu that even with all the setbacks and all the fault, he still managed to create a people like no other. Therefore, a person should never give up. As Winston Churchill once said “the definition of success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”. However, although success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm, one should not keep on repeating the same thing over and over but rather he should learn from his mistakes. He should learn from his experiences and adjust the method. Because Einstein was attributed saying “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. So one must keep on marching forward, while trying different things.

און בן פלת

When it comes to mentioning who is involved in the Machlokes, און בן פלת appears but in the later פסוקים he is not where to be found. The גמרא in סנהדרין קט ע"ב says that his wife convinced him to get out of the מחלוקת. She said to him מאי נפקא לך מינה אי מר רבה אנת תלמידא ואי מר רבה אנת תלמידא. The Gemara on the following page says חכמות נשים בנתה ביתה זו אשתו של און בן פלת. The question is what was the major חכמה that she displayed that she is the quintessential example of חכמות נשים if it was such a silly מחלוקת as Rashi says וקרח שפקח היה מה ראה לשטות זה that we are surprised at Korach that he got into such a silly מחלוקת?

Either one could deduce that it still must be a major חכמה to get someone out of a silly מחלוקת. A person who gets involved in מחלוקת can’t think straight and they get emotionally involved. However, it’s the lady who remains logical to pull the man out of it.

The other explanation could be that אשת און בן פלת could have fought her husband with קנאות and explained to him how clear that Moshe is correct in this argument. However, she understood that he wouldn’t have been convinced. Therefore she needed to convince him by going to the core and explaining that what is in it for you, either way you are going to be the same status. אשת און בן פלת understood one must read between the lines, and see what’s not being said. She was able to understand what קרח motive really was, and therefore was able to explain to her husband that nothing is really in it for him, because either way he’ll end up just a תלמיד.

Picking a Fight

The Pasuk begins with ויקח קרח and the Meforshim busy trying to explain the usage of the word ויקח in this context because what did he take. But it is interesting that in the English language, there is an expression that “he picked a fight”. But what exactly is such a person picking. Is he picking the option of a fight out of other options? Rather it could be that when picking a fight, you are picking something to fight about. But really, there is no argument and you just want something to fight about. So when you are picking a fight, you are picking something to hang your fight on. That’s the ויקח קרח that he picked a topic to fight about. But the topic wasn’t so relevant, because each party in the argument was fighting for something else. He had his topic of wanting to be the Kohen Gadol and the 250 men had another topic. So it was really just about picking something to fight about.

Not Settling

The first Pasuk in the Parshah begins ויקח קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי but doesn’t go all the way back to say בן יעקב. Rashi explains ולא הזכיר בן יעקב, שבקש רחמים על עצמו שלא יזכר שמו על מחלוקתם. The Ohr HaChaim points out that the fact that Rashi needs to provide an explanation as to why it doesn’t go back to even a fourth generation to say בן יעקב indicates that really it should have gone back another generation. It’s just that יעקב was מתפלל and therefore he was spared. The question is why should it have gone back all the way to a fourth generation and mention בן יעקב?

The truth is that Yaakov was really an individual who displayed the idea that a person should not settle and be satisfied with where nature places you. Yaakov was born second, and his place in nature was to be second to Eisav. However, through certain ways, perceived by Eisav as trickery as the Pasuk says ויעקבינו זה פעמים, he was able to move out of his class and what nature presented him and become the bechor. So in theory, Korach was attempting the same thing. He was acting just as his great zeide did, that he saw a person should not be satisfied with the class and status he was put in, but rather he should strive for more.

But we know obviously that Korach was wrong and therefore there must be a difference between Yaakov Avinu and Korach. It could be that Yaakov wanted to move classes but Korach wanted to remove classes, as the Pasuk says כולם קדושים. But that is wrong because a person has to understand where he is and where someone else, and he must understand where he ends and where the other begins. A classless society cannot function and not everyone is created equally. However, each individual must understand that he plays a specific and defined role in society.

Haftorah

The Haftorah for Parshas Korach discusses Shmuel and the people’s complaint and desire to have a king. The Rama Miphano quotes from the Arizal that Shmuel was a gilgul of Korach and he was a תיקון for him. The Arizal writes that when Bilam proclaimed מי יחיה משמו אל, he was saying מי יחיה משמואל, because he was lamenting how there would be know תיקון from him like Korach was going to have שמואל be a תיקון for him. How was Shmuel a תיקון for Korach?

When Shmuels mother came to Eli HaKohen to daven for a child, she davened that he should be normal and average. Not too short, but not too tall, not too dark but not too light, not too dumb but not too smart. Shmuel was described as מזרע אנשים, meaning average. Yet, we know that משה ואהרן בכהניו שומואל בקוראי שמו, that Shmuel was equal to Moshe and Aaron. How could it be, someone described as מזרע אנשים be equal to Moshe who was אדון הנביאים? The answer is because Shmuel, reached his ultimate potential. With what he was given, he maximized to the fullest and therefore he in considered to be of an equal to Moshe Rabbeinu. But Korach didn’t understand this. He thought, that in order to be great, he needed to be in a different class. He didn’t understand that where a person is, is where he is supposed to be and there is nothing wrong with being in second class. Just that a person must strive for the best he could be and maximize his potential in the class and with the talents he was given which is what Shmuel accomplished. Through this, Shmuel was able to be a tikun for Korach.

5779

Why Wait To Protest

The past few פרשיות, Rashis opening line has been למה נסמכה. Seemingly because the events that were being mentioned were not in the chronological order, and therefore there needed to be a logic to the order. However, when it comes to Korach, Rashi does not ask למה נסמכה. Therefore, it must be that this is the right place chronologically for the story with Korach. This is reinforced by what Rashi says on the Pasuk ויפלו על פניו, the reason being because this was the סרחון רביעי, the third being the חטא המרגלים. (See Rashi in דברים א:א that according to one of the פשטים, the dispute with Korach actually occurred earlier than the חטא המרגלים). If this is the case, why did Korach wait until now to challenge Moshe, he should’ve done it the moment he did the various appointments that he was upset about, as the אבן עזרא actually explains in the beginning of the Parshah that really Korach did not wait and he protested immediately following the appointments in מדבר סיני?

There two explanations are as follows. The first being that up until now, Moshe’s leadership was on a high. He performed the ten plagues, split the sea, and received the torah. But after the חטא המרגלים where he consented to sending the מרגלים and it turned out to be a major failure and the Jews wouldn’t enter the land but rather would wander for forty years, now he was down. Therefore Korach felt that now was the opportune time to cash in. But even more simply, we could say that after the חטא המרגלים, it was now decided that they will be wandering for forty years. Wandering unemployed people for forty years who are receiving מן משמים and don’t need to work is a recipe for מחלוקת. Without the reality of going into ארץ ישראל, they lost the sight and purpose and therefore מחלוקת was inevitable.

Classless Society Can’t Function

The גמרא in סנהדרין קי ע"א says כל המחזיק במחלוקת עובר בלאו שנאמר ולא יהיה כקרח וכעדתו. There is no mention that he was arguing about the כהונה, just that he was arguing. The idea is that people that are in involved in מחלוקת, they don’t even know what they are arguing about, because it doesn’t matter what they are arguing about, just that they are arguing.

But nevertheless how could we learn from here that a person who is עוסק במחלוקת is עובר the לאו of לא תהיה כרקח ועדתו? Maybe the Pasuk is only saying not to be like Korach and argue on כהונה? The answer could be as follows. The argument against כהונה is really an argument for equality which equals an argument for מחלוקת because if everyone is equal, then we are all claiming the same turf. But only if we recognize that we have different rolls can we get along with each other. Therefore Korach who was fighting for equality, when he says כי כל העדה כלם קדשים, was really fighting for מחלוקת. Korach is identified with מחלוקת because he was fighting against kahuna and fighting against kahuna is arguing for equality and equality equals מחלוקת.

On the other hand, אהרן, who was the כהן גדול, was the highest class. He represented the idea that there is a hierarchy and there are different classes in society and yet is known for אוהב שלום ורודף שלום. The idea is that a classless society cannot function and not everyone is created equally. However, each individual must understand that he plays a specific and defined roll in society. (Like we see in George Orwell’s book, Animal Farm).

מחזיק במחלוקת

As mentioned above the לאו is to be מחזיק במחלוקת, to hold on to argument. How far does a person have to go to in order to be considered not מחזיק? Dasan and Aviram were Moshe’s arch nemesis. From the start they gave him a hard time. Starting in Mitzrayim, they told on him to Pharaoh causing Moshe to flee Mitzrayim. They gave him a hard time when it came to the מן, as the Pasuk says ויותרו אנשים ממנו עד בקר (בשלח טז:כ) referring to דתן ואבירם who disobeyed him when it came to the מן and now this. Yet, the Pasuk says וישלח משה לקרא לדתן ולאבירם, and Rashi explains מכאן שאין מחזיקין במחלוקת, שהיה משה מחזר אחריהם להשלימם בדברי שלום. So we see how far a person needs to go in order to not be considered מחזיק במחלוקת. Although it could be a חומרא יתירא, nonetheless we could take something from it.

When it comes to mentioning who is involved in the Machlokes און בן פלת appears but in the later פסוקים he is not where to be found. The גמרא in סנהדרין קט ע"ב says that his wife convinced him to get out of the מחלוקת. She said to him מאי נפקא לך מינה אי מר רבה אנת תלמידא ואי מר רבה אנת תלמידא. The Gemara on the following page says חכמות נשים בנתה ביתה זו אשתו של און בן פלת. The question is what was the major חכמה that she displayed that she is the quintessential example of חכמות נשים if it was such a silly מחלוקת as Rashi says וקרח שפקח היה מה ראה לשטות זה that we are surprised at Korach that he got into such a silly מחלוקת?

Either one could deduce that it still must be a major חכמה to get someone out of a silly מחלוקת. A person who gets involved in מחלוקת can’t think straight and they get emotionally involved. However, it’s the lady who remains logical to pull the man out of it.

The other explanation could be that אשת און בן פלת could have fought her husband with קנאות and explained to him how clear that Moshe is correct in this argument. However, she understood that he wouldn’t have been convinced. Therefore she needed to convince him by going to the core and explaining that what is in it for you, either way you are going to be the same status. אשת און בן פלת understood one must read between the lines, and see what’s not being said. She was able to understand what קרח motive really was, and therefore was able to explain to her husband that nothing is really in it for him, because either way he’ll end up just a תלמיד.

There was an alter mirer who bought the newspaper the day after the Yeshiva got to Shanghai. Someone approached him and asked him why he bought it if he doesn’t understand Chinese. He answered that Reb Yerucham used to say that one must be able to read in between the lines, that which is not being said is really what’s important. Therefore he didn’t have to understand the language in order to read the newspaper.

Korach the Demagogue

The ילקוט שמעוני in the beginning of the Parshah comes to show how much of a demagogue Korach was. The מדרש records a story that Korach was telling over a story to the people about a widow and her two orphaned sons who were struggling to survive. The story goes through how the widow attempts to make a living with a field, but runs into difficulty, as Moshe informs her of the various הלכות that pertain to a field, that make it difficult for her to make a living. She goes on to sell the field and to buy a sheep in order to make a living. However, she further encounters difficulty as אהרן informs her of the many הלכות that make him the rightful recipient of much of the produce such as ראשית הגז. The idea of the מדרש is to show how Korach made up a story in order to incite the people against Moshe and אהרן. In spite of the fact that Korach really wanted to be the כהן גדול and therefore nothing would really change as far as all of these מתנות כהונה, nevertheless in order to get the support of the people he got them to think.

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