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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'yikach Korach" - And Korach took - The Torah does not overtly tell us what Korach took. This leads the M.R. to explain that Korach made a bad purchase, "Lokach mekach ra l'atzmo." These words are somewhat enigmatic, as what is the common denominator between Korach's actions and a bad purchase. Possibly, when a person makes a bad purchase he surely doesn't do so intentionally. He is no doubt misled by either perceived or very limited advantages of the product and has overlooked its flaws or shortcomings. Likewise, Korach was jealous of the position of authority that was allotted to Aharon. He only saw the glitz and glamour of being Kohein Godol and overlooked the awesome responsibilities that this exalted position entails. This is exactly like making a bad purchase. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 16, v. 3: "Ki kol ho'eidoh kulom k'doshim" - Because all the congregation in its entirety is holy - The words of the Ta"z in hilchos Rosh Hashonoh are well known. He posits that we say "M'loch al KOL ho'olom KULO," and there is no redundancy. Had we only said this phrase without the added KULO we might understand that we pray that Hashem reign upon the majority of the world, as KOL literally meaning ALL can be used for the majority only as well, by virtue of the dictum "rubo ch'kulo," - a majority is like all. By adding the word KULO it is undisputedly literally ALL.

Perhaps here too, had Korach only said "ki kol ho'eidoh k'doshim," and left out the word KULO, then we might understand this to mean the MAJORITY. Adding KULO teaches us that he meant absolutely everyone is holy.

This seems to be a far cry from the interpretation of the Chizkuni. He says that Korach only referred to the firstborn. The reason he said that they were holy is that the Torah itself says that the firstborn are holy, "Ka'desh li kol b'chor" (Shmos 13:2). Possibly this is in consonance with the above. Although limited to the firstborn only, but he meant absolutely EVERY firstborn.

Ch. 16, v. 13: "Ki sisto'reir o'leinu gam histo'reir" - That you lord upon us also lording - When translated literally these words are enigmatic. The Chizkuni offers that the word GAM refers to the previous words. Is it not sufficient that you have brought us out of a land that flows milk and honey to cause our death in the wilderness, but have also lorded upon us, as if the verse would be saying "ki GAM sisto'reir .." He brings two other examples of this from the verses. Alternatively, he offers that "sisto'reir" refers to Moshe himself lording over the congregation, and "histo'reir" to giving Aharon the position of also lording.

Ch. 16, v. 14: "Af lo el Eretz zovas cholov udvash heviosonu" - Also not to a land that flows milk and honey have you brought us" - Rashi is understandably bothered by the minor concern of not being brought to a desirable land being mentioned, which pales in comparison with being brought to the wilderness to die mentioned in the previous verse. He answers that we are to understand these two complaints in the reverse order, firstly that Moshe has not brought us to a desirable land, and on top of that the complaint of their dying in the desert.

The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that reversing these two thoughts to make sense out of Doson's and Avirom's complaints is a "dochek." He offers that their intention is that they said that they are not ready to ascend to Eretz Yisroel with Moshe and Aharon as their leaders not only because there was a decree that they would die in the desert, but even the lack of fulfillment of bringing them to an agriculturally viable land, as Moshe promised, was sufficient grounds to not accept Moshe's commands.

Ch. 16, v. 32: "V'es kol horchush" - And all the property - Korach's and his cohorts' possessions all descended to the abyss so that no one would have the benefit of taking their property. This benefit would be a merit for them, as per the rule (see Rashi on Vayikra 5:17 in the name of the Toras Kohanim) that if a person accidentally drops a coin and a deserving poor man finds it, it is a merit for the loser. They didn't deserve even this small merit. (Sforno)

Ch. 17, v. 3: "Tzipuy lamizbei'ach" - Cladding for the altar - The Rokei'ach says that the pans were hammered flat but not combined to create one large continuous sheet of copper. If that were so, then just adding another layer of copper would not serve the purpose of "v'y'h'yu l'ose livnei Yisroel," as there would be no noticeable visual change. He therefore suggests that the pans were attached separately, not attached one to another. They took on the look of individual copper tiles spread over the existent copper cladding.

The Chizkuni disagrees with this and writes that the cladding was specifically a copper roof for the altar. As Rashi on Shmos 27:8 and 38:7 explains, the altar was a four-walled box that was open on top and was filled with sand each time the Mishkon was relocated. Now a copper top was added, either being a separate plate, hinged, or perhaps permanently fixed, and from now on a sand mound was first piled up and the five surfaced altar was slipped onto the sand mound. Symbolically, we can say that although until Korach arose Moshe was the undisputed leader and Aharon the undisputed Kohein Godol, from this point on Moshe's and Aharon's positions were further strengthened, just like the altar originally having sand as its top, an object that even when tightly packed, has some resiliency, symbolic of possibly questioning the right of leadership of he who is on top, and now after the earth-splitting response to Korach and his cohorts not accepting the choice of leaders, was solidly based, symbolized by the solid metal top of the altar. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 17, v. 15: "Va'yoshov Aharon el Moshe .. v'hama'geifoh ne'etzoroh" - And Aharon returned to Moshe .. and the plague was restrained - Commentators ask why this information is repeated, as the last words of verse 13 are "va'tei'otzar hama'geifoh." Many years ago I went to lhbchl"ch the Holy Admor of Skolya ztvkllh"h, requesting of him to pray for the wellbeing of a member of my family. B'H, the person's condition improved. A while later I again went to the Holy Admor, seeking advice on a certain matter. He asked me how the person for whom he prayed was faring and I responded that things had greatly improved. He reproved me for not letting him know that things had improved, adding that many people come to him for prayers for illness and other problems and don't get back to him with the good news that there was improvement, and that he went around needlessly with a heavy heart for the difficulties that people had, even after things had mended.

Perhaps this is the intention of our verse. Verse 13 tells us that the plague stopped. Our verse tells us that Aharon returned to Moshe to the opening Ohel Mo'eid and said the good news "v'hama'geifoh ne'etzoroh." These are the actual words of Aharon. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 18, v. 3: "V'lo yomusu gam heim gam a'tem" - And they will not die neither they nor you - The gemara Arochin 11a derives from these words that if a Kohein does the service of a Levite or the reverse, he is deserving of the death penalty. Why is the Torah so strict, especially with a Kohein doing the service of a Levite, which is a step down? The gemara B.B. 24b says that a pot of two partners is never sufficiently cold or hot. This means that when two people have a shared responsibility they often rely on each other and the job does not get done. (My Rebbi once applied this to a product having two hech'sheirim. I have seen an item of food that had four hech'sheirim!) Since the sanctuary service of the Kohanim and L'viim is of paramount importance, Hashem wanted it to not be neglected. If a Kohein would be allowed to do the service of a Levite or the reverse, or if he would do it and not suffer severe consequences we would have a situation similar to that of two partners, as above, and there would be a serious fear of the service not getting done, the Kohanim relying on the L'viim and vice versa. (Sefer Hachinuch)

I do not fully comprehend this as we would have the same concern with a Kohein relying on another Kohein and a Levite relying on another Levite. Any help would be appreciated.

Ch. 18, v. 13: "Biku'rei kol asher b'artzom" - The first ripened of all that is in their land - We know that "bikurim" are brought only from the seven species. What is the meaning of "KOL asher b'artzom"? Targum Yonoson ben Uziel writes that this refers only to the first ripened of all fruits of TREES. Ibn Ezra writes that this refers to all ripened produce of the ground. Neither of these interpretations seems to answer the question. This might be a source for the novel opinion of the Ra"n on the gemara Chulin. He posits that the Torah REQUIRES bringing the first ripened of the seven species only, but bringing the first ripened of any produce is VOLUNTARY.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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