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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 16, v. 3: "Ki kol ho'eidoh kulom k'doshim" - Because all the congregation all of them are holy -

This took place shortly after the "m'raglim" fiasco. The bnei Yisroel were scorned by Hashem and in turn Hashem stopped communicating with Moshe. Korach took this unique opportunity to claim that since we see that Moshe's ability to receive a communiqu? from Hashem was dependent upon the behaviour of the bnei Yisroel, his prophecy was not his own virtue, but rather, that of the bnei Yisroel. If so, "Umadua tisnasu al k'hal Hashem," why should you lord over Hashem's congregation? (Meshech Chochmoh)

Ch. 16, v. 3: "Ki kol ho'eidoh kulom k'doshim" - Because all the congregation all of them are holy - Rabbi Yaakov Dovid was the Rov in Slutzk. He headed the community totally in consonance with the Torah's dictates and suffered greatly from this. Many people in the city made life difficult for him. In particular there was one person who degraded him worse than anyone else. To assuage his feelings this "rodeif" once told the Rov, "It is yuor good luck that the vast majority of the people in Slutzk are refined. They too, would have otherwise behaved as I do, as they are likewise as displeased with you as I am, and would have long ago sent you packing!"

The Rov responded that these were exactly Korach's words to Moshe. "Rav l'cho," the Rabbonus is still yours, because, "Kol ho'eidoh kulom k'doshim," the congregation is very holy and hasn't thrown you out of your position.

Ch. 16, v. 3: "Ki kol ho'eidoh kulom k'doshim uvsochom Hashem umadua tisnasu al k'hal Hashem" - Because all the congregation all of them are holy and within is Hashem and why should you lord over the assemblage of Hashem - Korach might be criticizing Moshe, not by saying that he is no better than anyone else, but possibly, that he is even less worthy. Moshe, notwithstanding his great piety, was surely high-profile. The masses surely did not impart an aura of sanctity as did Moshe. This was Korach's complaint. "The whole congregation is holy, 'uvsochom Hashem,' their G-dliness is hidden within them. They are capable of keeping all their holiness inside. This is not the case with you, as your piety is printed all over your face. They are better than you, so by what right do you lord over them?" (Nirreh li)

Ch. 16, v. 4: "Va'yipol al ponov" -And he fell on his face - Based on the words, "Va'y'kanu l'Moshe b'macha'neh (T'hilim 106:16) the gemara Sanhedrin 110 says that Korach and his followers stooped so low as to even warn their wives to not go into seclusion with Moshe, as if they suspected him of illicit relations with their wives. Rabbeinu Bachyei explains that this is why Moshe fell upon his face, simply out of great embarrassment. This is the nature of character assassins. Not only do they say outright lies, but even lies that are the absolute furthest from the truth. Moshe was the most restrained person in regards to relations with a woman, as he was separated in this realm from his wife, so that he be ready and spiritually pure to receive prophecy at any given moment, and he was accused of acting improperly with their wives, and similarly with the complaint that he lords over the congregation, and al the while the Torah testifies that he was the most modest person on the face of the earth (Bmidbar 12:3).

Rabbi Naftoli of Ropschitz says that they complained about Moshe and Aharon in a catch 22 manner. If a Torah leader is always involved with Torah study, people might complain that he should come down to earth and be involved in the earthly issues of the congregation. If he does that, they complain that he should spend more time studying and expanding his Torah knowledge. This is "Va'y'kanu l'Moshe b'macha'neh." They complained about Moshe regarding being within the encampment. They claimed he was too removed, always studying or having his head in the heavens. Regarding Aharon, who was very involved in pursuing peace and helping patch up husband and wife, and neighbour relationships, they complained, "ul'Aharon k'dosh Hashem," that Aharon, the Kohein Godol, should be more involved in sanctity than helping out people.

Ch. 16, v. 15: "Va'yomer el Hashem al teifen el minchosom" - And he said to Hashem do not turn to their meal-offering - An offering for Hashem embodies certain prayers and wishes, be it for atonement or for special favour, or the like. Had Korach's cohorts' offering been accepted there would be a real fear of the populace at large falling into Korach's camp and denying Moshe's transmission of the Torah ch"v. It would seem obvious that even without Moshe beseeching Hashem, He would not accept their offering. Nevertheless, Moshe feared that their offerings and accompanying prayers would ch"v be accepted. He therefore prayed that it not be accepted. We see from this the powerful capacity of prayer, even if for the wrong thing. (Alter of Kelm)

Ch. 16, v. 19: "Va'yakheil a'leihem Korach es KOL ho'eidoh" - And Korach assembled upon then the WHOLE congregation - This is unfortunately the nature of people. When there is an announcement for an assembly for strengthening Torah values, a small group of people shows up. In stark contrast, when an assembly is called regarding a controversial matter, which might well lead to arguments, everyone shows up. (Menachem Tzion)

Ch. 17, v. 23: "Shkeidim" - Almonds - Why of all things, did the staff produce almonds? This exercise was one that would bring the arguments to a close. The gemara Chulin 25b says that there are two types of almonds. One type is bitter when it at the initial stage of its growth, but sweetens when it matures. There is another type, which is just the opposite. The almonds are sweet only when it is in its early stage, and becomes bitter when it matures. These two types of almonds are representative of discord and peace. When one is displeased with a situation and lashes out argumentatively, he feels good about reacting in a forceful manner, assuming that he will thus have his desired results. However, later on he tastes the exceedingly bitter fruits of his labour.

One who pursues peace has it bitter in the beginning. He perceives an injustice and keeps quiet. However, the results of his "keeping the peace" are very sweet in the end. (Menachem Tzion)

Rashi says that just as an almond tree produces its fruit very quickly, so too, Hashem punishes those who are argumentative quickly.

In a previous edition on our parsha I cited an opinion that the staff was a branch of an almond tree.

Ch. 18, v. 3: "V'lo yomusu gam heim gam a'tem" - And also they will not die also you - The gemara Arochin 11a derives from this that if a Kohein or a Levi does the service of another, be it a Kohein or a Levi, he will die. This seems unusually strict, as, for example, a Levi whose responsibility to be gatekeeper, who joins the vocal group dies, even though they are both Levites, and each one could have easily had the other's job. Sefer Hachinuch explains that when two people have the same job there is laxity, as one relies on the other. The reliable fulfillment of all services in the Mikdosh is paramount, so no one may do another's job. This is safeguarded by a most stringent punishment, and we are thus guaranteed that the job will get done.



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

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