CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS KORACH 5769 - BS"D
1) Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'yikach Korach" - Rashi begins his commentary by saying that this parsha is "YOFOH nidreshes," "nicely" explained homiletically in the medrash of Rabbi Tanchum.
A) Why does Rashi refer us to Rabbi Tanchum rather than citing excerpts of Rabbi Tanchum's commentary, as he quotes many commentaries throughout the Torah?
B) What does Rashi mean with the word "yofoh?"
2) Ch. 16, v. 1: "V'Doson va'Avirom" - Rashi (M.R. 18:3 and Targum Yonoson ben Uziel) say that Korach asked Moshe if a talis that is completely made of wool dyed with "t'chei'les" requires tzitzis with a thread of "t'cheiles" in each corner. Moshe responded in the affirmative. Korach scoffed, saying that if a thread of "t'chei'les" included among the fringes in each corner satisfies the requirements of tzitzis, surely if the complete garment is of "t'chei'les" there is no need for further "t'chei'les" in the fringes. The allusion to his claim that the whole nation is holy and is therefore in no need of a leader is very clear. How does Moshe's response that there still is a need for "t'chei'les" a rebuttal to Korach?
3) Ch. 16, v. 2: "Va'anoshim mibnei Yisroel chamishim u'mosoyim" - 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?
4) Ch. 16, v. 6: "K'chu lochem machtos" - Rashi explains that the machtos were pans with which one would shovel coals, and these vessels had a handle. It is most unusual for Rashi to give us a detailed description of a machtoh here, rather than earlier in Vayikra 10:1 where the machtoh is first mentioned.
5) Ch. 17, v. 23: "Va'yigmole sh'keidim" - Was the wooden staff of Aharon originally from an almond tree?
A) The Sifsei Chachomim says that Rashi on Breishis 3:8 says that although there are many ways to interpret the verses, he is explaining the Torah according to P'SHAT, the straightforward meaning. Since Rabbi Tanchum's commentary is DRUSH and not P'SHAT, Rashi doesn't bring it.
B) I heard from Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Pam zt"l that "yofoh" means that the drush fits well with the p'shat. This is why Rashi mentions Rabbi Tanchum's medrash, as it is COMPATIBLE with the p'shat. He says that this is also the intention of the word "yofoh" in the blessing given to a newly married couple, that the "zivug" should be "oleh l'YOFOH," commonly translated that the match should turn out beautifully. Rabbi Pam says that it means the match should be COMPATIBLE, similar to the explanation of the word YOFOH in this Rashi.
The Birkas Peretz, the Hornesteipler Gaon Rabbi Y.Y. Kanievski zt"l, explains by analyzing how Korach made such a severe blunder. He explains that once Korach felt slighted by not being honoured with a greater position of authority, his personal concerns, "n'gi'oh," blinded his thinking, just as a bribe blinds the otherwise unbiased thought process of even the greatest person. Moshe pointed out that although a garment is all "t'chei'les," nevertheless, it is used to cover and warm one's body. This symbolizes a personal agenda. All the "t'chei'les" in the world, when it is the body of the garment is lacking unbiased judgement. Only the fringe, the part that does not give any comfort or benefit, when imbued with "t'chei'les," fulfills the mitzvoh properly.
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 that 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. We might conjecture that the bribe of having his wages paid through receiving funds from a source that was held in disdain even by him similarly blinded the memory of this educator who probably learned this Rashi, but forgot it.
Rabbi Sho'ul of Amsterdam answers as follows: The gemara M'nochos 99a says that we derive from our verse that "maalin bakodesh," we elevate by sanctity. This means that if something had sanctity and we want to change its usage, we should not use it for a lower or equal level of sanctity, but rather, we must use it for an elevated level of sanctity. We see that after the pans were used for incense, they were hammered into a covering for the outer copper altar. First they served the altar and now they became part of the altar.
However, on the gemara Yoma 47a the Tosfos Y'shonim says that the incense sacrificed by Korach's adherents was not placed onto the altar, but rather, was burned in the pans themselves. If so, how do we have a proof for elevation? The pans themselves were used as an altar.
The answer to this is that although the pans were considered an altar, their handles served the contained area of the pans and were not themselves an altar. They also were hammered into the flat plates which were added to the covering of the altar. This is what motivated Rashi to explain that they had a handle.
This also answers a difficulty raised by the Turei Ovven. He asks, "How do we derive 'maalin bakodesh?' The verse clearly states that the purpose of incorporating the pans into the altar is to create a permanent reminder of the punishment meted out to those who rebelled against Moshe, as is stated in 17:3, 'v'yi'h'yu l'ose livnei Yisroel.'" According to the above, the permanent reminder is created by making the container component of the pan an integral part of the altar, and the rule of "maalin bakodesh" is derived from also using the handles as part of the altar.
The Tzror Hamor says yes, and the Tiferes l'Moshe says no.
Among the surnames of Kohanim, Mandel is common. It probably comes from the blossoming of almonds, "mandelin" in Yiddish, of Aharon's staff.
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