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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'yikach Korach" - And Korach took - When did this uprising take place?

The Ibn Ezra says that it took place before the incident of the spies. Although this is related later in the Torah, we apply the rule that the Torah does not always relate happenings in the correct chronological order, "Ein mukdam u'm'uchar baTorah" (gemara P'sochim 6b and Sanhedrin 49b). The Ramban disagrees and says that this rule is only applied where there is a compelling proof that something is not chronologically in order. He says that the Ibn Ezra too easily applies the rule of "ein mukdam." We find more of this in the Ibn Ezra at the beginning of parshas Matos, where he says that it is proper to assume that two juxtaposed parshios happened in reverse order.

Rashi's opinion is the same as the Ramban, as he says on 16:4 that the bnei Yisroel had already sinned three times, including the sin of the spies, and this was their fourth failing.

Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'anoshim mibnei Yisroel chamishim u'mosoyim" - And men of stature from among the bnei Yisroel two-hundred and fifty - Who were these 250 men?

1) All first-born (Ibn Ezra)

2) All from the tribe of Levi (Rabbeinu Chananel's opinion brought in the Ramban)

3) The tribal leaders plus mostly from the tribe of Reuvane (Rashi)

4) A mixture from all the tribes (Ramban)

5) Twenty-three men from each of eleven tribes, excluding the tribe of Levi. This is equal to the quorum of a Sanhedrin. Although this equals 253 people, the verse means 250 men besides Doson, Avirom, and On ben Pelles. (Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi)

How did Korach convince 250 people of such great spiritual stature to go along with his revolt against the leadership of Moshe? As well, how did they willingly risk their lives with the test of sacrificing the incense?

During a visit to Eretz Yisroel the Holy Admor of Satmar zt"l spoke to a large crowd of educators. He said that it is very dangerous to accept funding from those who are opposed to Torah ideals, even for the purpose of furthering Torah-true education. This is true even if they offer the funding with no strings attached. Just by the mere acceptance of the money, one is influenced to think along the donours' lines. This is an insidious bribe. He brought a proof for this from the fact that Korach, who was fabulously wealthy, gave gifts to people prior to disclosing his true intentions, although he gave no stipulations with the gifts. Through this he was later able to influence them to join in his rebellion against Moshe's leadership.

An educator in the audience who considered himself a great Torah scholar, who worked in a school system which received funding from a source which he himself was at odds with ideologically, derided the Holy Satmar Rov, saying that there is no source for his words in any medrash, etc. These words reached the ears of the Satmar Rov who responded that his words are taken from Rashi on the gemara Sanhedrin 52a d.h. "b'chanfei" and 52b d.h. "l'mah." Rashi says that through their receiving benefit from Korach, he had the ability to persuade the 250 men to rebel against Hashem. The bribe blinded them to the point that they were even willing to risk their lives with the test of sacrificing incense.

Ch. 16, v. 4: "Va'yishma Moshe va'yipole al ponov" - Rabbeinu Bachyei explains that falling on one's face indicates three feelings, that one is keenly aware of the Divine Presence, that one is in pain and is subordinate, and that one is showing the severe limitations of his senses and the abrogation and nullification of his feelings. Moshe was displaying the third of these intentions as he was hopelessly unable to do anything on his own. He therefore prayed that Hashem intercede with a supernatural response.

Rabbeinu Bachyei goes on to say that the third of the above is the reason for gentiles praying with their hands open, palms placed against each other, showing that their hands are powerless. This indicates negation of one's own powers to a Greater Power. He says that the gentiles themselves don't know why they pray in this manner.

Bnei Yisroel say "tachanun," the most powerful of prayers, while falling on their faces, (actually falling to the ground as mentioned in the gemara Megiloh 22b) to symbolize the above in a stronger manner. One is less able to exercise his abilities and strength when not standing on his feet.

Ch. 16, v. 7: "V'simu a'leiheN k'to'res" - The word "a'leiheN" in the feminine form seems to be appropriate since the antecedent of this pronoun is "machtos" in the previous verse. However, in verse 17 we find "U'n'sa'tem a'leiheM k'to'res." Since "a'lei'heM" refers to the word "machtoso" of this verse, why is it in the male form? Your answers would be appreciated.

Ch. 16, v. 15: "Lo chamore ECHOD mei'hem nososi" - Rashi translates this as: I did not make use of a donkey of even ONE PERSON. Rashbam translates: I did not even make use of ONE DONKEY of theirs.

In any case, we see that when Moshe was confronted with a complaint that he took upon himself the position of leader for his personal gain and aggrandizement, he responded that he did not even ask for transportation, even when it was dearly needed for the betterment of the nation. Likewise we find the prophet Shmuel echoing the same response in the Haftorah (Shmuel 1:12:3). This is a far cry from the broad expense accounts of contemporary leaders of nations and organizations.

Ch. 16, v. 30: "V'im BRIOH yivro" - We normally translate "brioh" as "a creation." However, in our verse Rabbeinu Efrayim translates BRIOH as a hole. He brings two sources for this. In Yechezkeil 23:47 the verse says, "U'VO'REI ose'hon b'charvosom," meaning and they shall puncture them with their swords. As well, the mishnoh in Chulin 43b says "shemoh HIVRI," which Rashi says means punctured. Many commentators including Rashi say that the word "U'VO'REI" means "and they shall cut," and they bring a proof for this from Yehoshua 17:15, "U'VEIREISO," which surely means "and you shall cut down." However, it seems that the Targum agrees with Rabbeinu Efrayim since in Yechezkel he says "u'va'zi," which means "and they shall puncture," while in Yehoshua he translates "U'VEIREISO" as "u's'sa'kin," meaning "you shall fix" (prepare) the forest for habitation, i.e. by cutting down the trees.

Ch. 17, v. 24: "Va'yikchu ish ma'teihu" - Once the heads of the tribes saw a Divine sign that they were not to be elevated beyond their positions, why did they take the staffs back? The Sforno answers that according to the opinion that the staffs were given by the representatives of each tribe to Moshe this is understandable. Each person cut a stick off a larger branch of wood and gave it to Moshe. Upon their sticks not sprouting they took them back simply to see if they were the original sticks they gave. They saw if the hewn edges matched to the area of the large branch from which it was cut. In other words, they did not trust Moshe.

Another explanation is offered by Rabbi Moshe Dovid, the Holy Admor of Tchortkov. They fully accepted that they were wrong once they saw this miraculous celestial sign. They were truly contrite and wanted to make sure that they remained with this lesson, so they took their staffs back to place in a prominent location as a constant visual reminder that Moshe was right.



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

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