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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'yikach Korach" - And Korach took - Rashi comment that he took himself. Korach had many traits that qualified him for leadership, wisdom, wealth, family status, etc. Sooner or later a prestigious position would have been handed to him. The problem was that he had no patience. Rather than waiting to receive, he took. In kind, he was swallowed up by the earth. Every person ends up in the ground after his death. Korach, however, jumped the gun in an attempt to have a position of leadership. The earth likewise swallowed him alive, also jumping the gun. (Rebbe Reb Simcha Bunim of Parshizcha)

Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'yikach Korach" - And Korach took - In the gemara Sanhedrin 109b Reish Lokish comments: Korach took a "mekach ra," a bad purchase, for himself. The medrash relates that Korach's wife instigated him to rebel against Moshe. The gemara Ksuvos relates the disagreement between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel, whether a person should be frankly honest about his friend's new wife, or in all instances praise her to him. Beis Shamai is of the former opinion, while Beis Hillel of the latter. Beis Hillel raised this question to Beis Shamai: "According to your opinion, should a person who made a bad purchase in the street be told that it is no good or that it is good? (Since he already married her he might as well hear only a positive report. See R'shash for a beautiful insight into Beis Hillel's words.) We see that a bad wife is equated to a "mekach ra," a bad purchase. This might well be Reish Lokish's intention, that Korach took a bad wife, who got him into all this trouble. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 16, v. 2: "Va'yokumu lifnei Moshe" - And they stood up before Moshe - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says, "V'komu v'chutzpa," and they stood up with audacity. How is this indicated in the verse? Targum Yonoson ben Uziel understood the word "lifnei" to not mean the common "in front of," but rather "ahead of." They knew Moshe was coming and it is incumbent to stand up in his honour. They therefore stood up earlier so they would not have to stand up at the time of his appearance. This is surely "standing up with audacity." (Toras Mahari"tz)

Ch. 16, v. 11: "V'Aharon mah hu ki solinu olov" - And Aharon what is he that you will argue against him - A person's true nature can be exposed through three matters, "Kiso Koso Kaaso," how he expends his money, how he behaves while under the influence of intoxicating drink, and when he gets angry. Aharon could not be measured by his expenditures because he, as all others, had his sustenance from the manna, his lodging inside the clouds of glory, etc. He could also not be measured by his reaction to alcohol, as he served daily in the Mishkon, and as such, had to always be sober. Moshe told the complainers, "If you want to know 'V'Aharon mah hu,' what is Aharon's true nature, you are only left with 'Ki solinu olov,' complain about him and see his reaction." (Rabbi Mayer Arik)

Ch. 16, v. 12: "Va'yishlach Moshe likro l'Doson v'laAvirom" - And Moshe sent to call for Doson and Avirom - Who were greater rebels against Moshe, Korach or Doson and Avirom? Sometimes one who is looking for some perceived gain for himself is truly guilty, but with an excuse. After all, he thinks that he might gain something. Korach's wanting K'hunoh G'doloh was an attempt at an exalted position. Doson and Avirom had no such aspirations (According to some opinions those of the tribe of Reuvein who rebelled against Moshe wanted the first-born tribe, Reuvein, to be the Kohanim.) They are arguably worse than Korach. They were greater instigators of the masses. In T'hilim 106:16, where the uprising against Moshe is related, Doson and the congregation of Avirom are mentioned, and Korach is nowhere in sight. This is also a strong indication that they were more guilty than even Korach, although some say that Korach is not mentioned out of respect for his sons who repented.

Ch. 16, v. 14: "Ho'einei ho'anoshim ho'heim t'na'keir lo naa'leh" - If you will even pierce those people's eyes we will not ascend - The commentators have broken many a quill, writing explanations for their choice of wording, "having their eyes pierced."

Reishis Chochmoh shaar ho'anovoh chapter #7, paragraph "hamka'neh" relates a story to bring out a point. A lustful person and a jealous person where walking together. The king of the country came upon them and asked that one of them make a request, which he would fulfill, but would give double to the other. The lustful person wanted the double portion and hoped that the jealous person would present his request. The jealous person, although not lustful, wanted the other to make his request so that he, the jealous one, would receive double, and not be jealous. Hearing no response, the king broke the gridlock by telling the jealous person to make the request. He was so bothered by the reality of his comrade having double what he himself would receive that he requested of the king to blind him in one eye. The follow-up would be that his companion would have both eyes blinded. So severe is the trait of jealousy.

Jealousy is what fueled Korach and his cohorts. A person's shortcoming is what he suspects is another's shortcoming as well. They therefore responded with "piercing our eyes," i.e., you would have one of your eyes pierced if it brought about having both of ours pierced. You are more jealous that we are, and we will therefore not cooperate with your request. (Nirreh Li)

Ch. 16, v. 15: "Va'yichar l'Moshe m'ode" - And it bothered Moshe exceedingly - Rashi comments that "va'yichar" means that he was greatly pained. Why doesn't Rashi translate this word as "and he was angered," as is the normal interpretation? Imrei Shefer answers that the gemara Eiruvin 65a says that when Rabbi Chanina was angry he would not pray. We find that Moshe immediately prayed to Hashem to not turn to their offering. If he was angry he should have waited until the anger subsided before praying to Hashem. This forced Rashi to depart from the normal translation and say that it means that he was very hurt.

Alternatively, we might answer that the comprehensive list of the times that Moshe was angered, comments that when he came to anger he came to make a mistake in each instance, "Kivon shebo lichlal kaas bo lichlal to'ose." Since our verse is not included, and indeed we find nowhere that he made a mistake in how he acted here, we must assume that he did not become angry. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 16, v. 32: "Vativla osom v'es kol horchush" - And it swallowed them and all their possessions - What was the point of having their property go into the abyss with them? Their great wealth gave them the courage and temerity to rise up against Moshe, as per the verse, "V'oshir yaa'neh azus" (Mishlei 18:23). Since their belongings played a central role in instigating them to behave as they did, it also had to go. (Par'p'ro'ose laTorah)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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