SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS KORACH 5765 BS"D
Ch. 16, v. 14: "Af lo el eretz zovas cholov udvash heviosonu vati'ten lonu
nachalas so'deh vocho'rem" - However not to a land that flows of milk and honey
have you brought us and you have (also not) given us an inheritance of field
and vineyard - Note the words in parentheses in the translation. Rashi says
that LO in the beginning of our verse refers not only to the immediate words
following, but also to "vati'ten .." I have come across three more places in our
parsha where we find this phenomenon, albeit they are not as straight forward
and obvious as in our verse.
In 16:26 we find a warning to turn away from the tents of the evil people and
another warning to not touch any of their possessions "lest you will come to
an end through their sins." Ibn Ezra explains that "lest .." applies not just
to the immediate preceding warning to not touch their possessions, but also to
not heeding the warning to turn away.
In 17:5 the verse says "v'lo yi'h'yeh ch'Korach v'chaadoso kaasher di'ber
Hashem b'yad Moshe lo." The last words of this verse are quite enigmatic. Rashi
first explains that these words mean that Hashem has spoken LO, regarding
Aharon, to Moshe, that he and his sons are the rightful Kohanim. Alternatively,
Rashi explains that one who contests the rightful Kohein family will be struck
with leprosy, with LO referring to Korach. Either of these explanations leaves
us with a verse that has choppy syntax.
The Chasam Sofer asks, "How can one be warned to not act like Korach did
towards Moshe? After all, Moshe was appointed the leader and it was acknowledged
by all when they heard the voice of Hashem say that Moshe should ascend the
mountain." Any other argument cannot have this totally unanimous component to it.
He answers that we must understand the verse differently. In general, when
one argues with another, he will bring a proof from the Torah itself or a
Rabbinic explanation of the Torah, and be convinced that the Torah clearly sides
with him. Read our verse as follows: "And one shall not be like Korach and his
group, and also not, again with the words "v'lo yi'h'yeh" referring to the next
phrase, "kaasher di'ber Hashem b'yad Moshe LO," as if Hashem has spoken
through Moshe (in His Torah) LO, specifically to HIS position. Thus we have "v'lo
yi'h'yeh" refer not only to the immediately following words, but also to the
In 18:20 the verse says "b'artzom lo sinchol v'cheilek lo yi'h'yeh l'cho
b'sochom." This seems like doubletalk. Rashi (Sifri) says that "v'cheilek lo
yi'h'yeh l'cho b'sochom" adds that even in the spoils of war there is no portion
for the Kohanim. The obvious problem is that in parshas Matos we see that a
portion of the spoils was given to Elozor haKohein (31:29). Sifsei Chachomim
answers that the prohibition of giving spoils of war to Kohanim is limited to Eretz
Yisroel, just as the verse predicates the prohibition of their having a land
inheritance "b'artzom," so too, these words apply to "v'cheilek lo y'h'yeh
l'cho." Thus we once again have an expression not only apply to the immediate
following phrase, but also to the next one as well. Note that the question of
Kohanim (and L'viim) having a portion in lands conquered outside Eretz Yisroel is
in disagreement (see gemara B.B. 56, M.R. on our parsha, and Mishneh L'melech
at the end of hilchos shmitoh v'yoveil). This will have great relevance when
the three lands Keini, Knizi, and Kadmoni will be incorporated into Eretz
Yisroel with the coming of Moshiach bb"a.
There seems to be a way to understand our original verse without having "af
lo" refer to the second phrase "va'ti'ten lonu." Sforno says that the verse is
saying not only have you taken us out of Egypt, a land that flows of milk and
honey, but you haven't even brought us into a land where we may have fields
and vineyards, and to add insult to injury, you have commanded us in the laws of
tithing from fields and vineyards, as if we would own them. With a slight
variation on the Sforno's words we can say that "va'ti'ten lonu" means you have
given us the burden of studying the mitzvos of the field and vineyard, but not
the field and vineyard themselves, a cynical barb.
Ch. 17, v. 5: "V'lo y'h'yeh ch'Korach v'chaadoso" - And - he shall not/there
will not - be as Korach and his group - Rashi chooses the latter of these two
translations, while the Ramban says that this is an exhortation to not be like
Korach and his group, literally a negative command. An interesting
explanation heard from R.B.: And there will never again be an argument like Korach and
his group against Moshe. In any future argument, no matter how incorrect one
party will be, there will be at least a speck of justification. Korach was 100%
Ch. 17, v. 6: "Va'yilonu .. al Moshe v'al Aharon leimore a'tem hami'tem es am
Hashem" - And they complained .. against Moshe and Aharon to say you have
caused the death of Hashem's nation - The word "leimore" seems superfluous, as
the complaint was not something that they asked to be communicated further. The
Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that they did not literally say these words, but
rather they intimated them. All the "eidoh" complained in a
manner that indicated, "leimore," meaning to say, that they held Moshe and
Aharon responsible for the death of so many people.
Ch. 17, v. 7: "Va'y'hi b'hiko'heil ho'eidoh al Moshe v'al Aharon" - And is
was when all the group assembled upon Moshe and Aharon - Targum Yonoson ben
Uziel writes that they assembled to kill Moshe and Aharon. How does he derive this
from the words of our verse? We similarly find "va'yikohalu al Moshe v'al
Aharon" in Bmidbar 20:2 and Targum Yonoson ben Uziel does not write the same
Perhaps because we find that Moshe and Aharon headed towards the Mishkon,
seemingly without purpose, we can assume that their lives were in danger. To save
one's life he may enter even the Holy of Holies. Obviously the "eidoh" would
not enter the Mishkon and Moshe and Aharon would save their lives. When a
cloud of glory appeared above the Mishkon the angry crowd stopped its advance.
Ch. 17, v. 10: "Heiromu mitoch ho'eidoh hazose vaacha'leh osom k'roga
va'yiplu al pnei'hem" - Elevate yourselves from within the group and I will
annihilate them in a moment and they fell upon their faces - Commentators ask why Moshe
and Aharon fell upon their faces here and not when other terrible happenings
or complaints came their way. This prompts Rashi to say that Moshe was
embarrassed when he heard that he was suspected of having an affair with their wives,
and he simply hid his face.
In Sedrah Selections parshas Korach 5759 note was taken of four different
expressions of separation from the evildoers, "hibodlu" (16:21), "hei'olu"
(16:24), "suru" (16:26), and "heiromu" in our verse. An explanation of the choice of
"heiromu" and of Moshe and Aharon falling on their faces is offered, based on
the words of the Mo'ore Voshemesh" whose yahrtzeit usually falls out during
parshas Korach is offered.
It is an unfortunate fact that in every generation there are many sinners.
They sin so greatly that they not only negatively affect themselves, but also
they terribly pollute the world spiritually. A major saving factor is the great
tzadikim of the generations. Their merit is not simply hocus pocus, but
rather, although they grow greater and greater in their spiritual pursuits and are
more and more elevated above the common man, they lower themselves to find some
redeeming factor (limud z'chus) in sinners, often convoluting themselves to
find that the evil person is better than he is in one aspect or another. This
is no simple task.
The story is told of a person who had just committed a terrible outrageous
sin. In spite of this he had no compunctions against immediately afterwards
appearing in front of a very holy Rebbe for a blessing. The Rebbe immediately felt
the spiritual pollution that enveloped the sinner and could not think of any
merit. Just as the sinner came in front of the tzadik, he came up with a
merit. The Rebbe said, "Your spiritual drive is stupendous. If I would have just
committed such a severe sin I would have been ashamed to even step foot into the
city where the tzadik resides. Yet you, in your quest for spirituality, did
not let this stand in your way. You truly amaze me and are surely greater than
I am in this aspect."
Hashem was so angered by the nation (see Ramban) that He considered
destroying it. However, Hashem was aware that through the great powers of "limud
z'chus" of Moshe and Aharon, positive aspects of the bnei Yisroel would be brought
up, and Hashem's hands, so to speak, would be tied. Hashem therefore said
"heiromu," elevate yourselves well above the nation, and do not lower yourselves to
find merit in them. This will allow Me to "vaacha'leh osom k'roga."
Just as Moshe understood that Hashem's intention when saying "v'atoh hanichoh
li ..vaacha'leim" (Shmos 32:10), where Hashem told Moshe to not continue
pleading their case at the sin of the golden calf, when Moshe had not even said a
word, was that he indeed plead their case, so too, here they understood that
Hashem's telling them to elevate themselves when they did not indicate that
they were ready to plead the case for people who denied Moshe's leadership, who
claimed that he was haughty, who suspected him of having an affair with their
wives, who denied that his was truly the word of Hashem, and could easily have
had no interest in helping them, was indicative that Hashem really wanted them
to come to the aid of the nation.
Moshe and Aharon did this in grand style, lowering themselves to the level of
the nation. This is the intention of their falling upon their faces, lowering
themselves to the ground, to the lowest spiritual level, and saving the
nation from destruction.
Ch. 17, v. 17: "Ish es shmo tichtov al ma'teihu" - A man his name shall you
write upon his staff - Whose name was written? Ramban offers that it was either
the name of the tribe, Reuvein, Shimon, etc., or it was the name of the
present leader of the tribe.
Ch. 18, v. 19: "Bris melach olom" - A bond of permanence as salt - Rashi
explains that salt is symbolic of permanence, as it never spoils. Ibn Exra says
that "melach" means land that is very salty and cannot sustain any growth. This
type of land will not grow anything, and its surface will experience no
change. So too, the bond is permanent and will not be altered.
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