CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS KORACH 5771 - BS"D
1) Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'yikach Korach" - The M.R. 18:3 says that Korach came to Moshe with the following question: "You have taught us that one needs a mezuzoh on the door posts of his home. If the home is filled with Torah Scrolls, does the door post still require a mezuzoh?" Moshe responded in the affirmative. At this point Korach retorted, "If a Torah Scroll which contains 275 parshios does not exempt the home from a mezuzoh, how can a mezuzoh which contains but ONE PARSHA satisfy this requirement?" We can easily see a parallel to his complaint that since the whole nation is holy, why is there a need for a leader.
What is most interesting to note is that the medrash quotes Korach as saying that a mezuzoh contains but ONE PARSHA. The Medrash Tanchuma and the Yalkut Shimoni both have a text which reads "TWO PARSHIOS," and the RSha"Sh adjusts the text in the M.R. to conform with these two medroshim. However, the original text found in all printings of the M.R. is "ONE PARSHA." I'm sure than you've seen a mezuzah script and noticed that there are two paragraphs. How are we to explain this medrash?
2) Ch. 16, v. 1: "Va'yikach Korach" - When did this uprising take place in relation to other desert incidents?
3) Ch. 16, v. 22: "Ho'ish echod yecheto v'al kol ho'eidoh tiktzofe" - Can it be that one person will sin and You will be angered on the whole congregation - Ramban cites Rabbeinu Chananeil who explains that Moshe said these words because he misunderstood Hashem, thinking that "the whole congregation" meant the whole Jewish nation, and Hashem responded to him that "kol ho'eidoh" only referred to the cohorts of Korach. The Raamban resoundingly disagrees with this interpretation because it is incomprehensible to say that Moshe, who received such clear messages of prophecy from Hashem, would misunderstand. He therefore explains these words differently. How can we answer the Ramban's question and have a good understanding of Rabbeinu Chananeil's position?
4) Ch. 17, v. 5: "V'lo yi'h'yeh ch'Korach v'chaadoso" - And - he shall not/there will not - be as Korach and his group - Which of these two translations is correct? Is this an exhortation or a statement of fact?
5) 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 there.
Perhaps the original text can be explained as follows:
In the standard Vilna Shas at the back of the Z'vochim-M'nochos volume we find the "halochos k'tanos" of the RI"F. This is a compilation of halochos taken from various gemoros dealing with the laws of Sefer Torah, tefillin, and mezuzoh. On the margin of this work there is the commentary "L'shone haRIO"Z," words of Rabbi Yaakov Ohr Zorua. He quotes and explains the gemara Z'vochim 32b which says that it is appropriate to write the two paragraphs of the mezuzoh, Shma and V'hoyoh im shomo'a, "s'sumos," closed, meaning without any normal paragraph spacing, as if these two chapters of the Torah are ONE. If however, they were written "p'suchos," open, meaning that there was a blank space between the two chapters, it is also acceptable.
This is not the common understanding of the gemara. All other commentators say that there is a space requirement, but the format should preferably be of the type called "s'sumoh." If however there was a different spacing format called "p'suchoh" it is also acceptable. This is the halacha as mentioned in Y.D. 288:13.
Regarding tefillin the spacing requirement between these same two chapters is also a "s'sumoh" format, but if one leaves a "p'suchoh" spacing it is not kosher, as mentioned in O.Ch. 32:36. The Beis Yosef in his commentary on the Tur O.Ch. #36 is hard- pressed to explain the halachic difference between tefillin and mezuzoh regarding the spacing.
Perhaps the following could be helpful: The reason that either format is kosher by mezuzoh, even though parshas V'hoyoh im shomo'a has the "s'sumoh" spacing, is that the two chapters, Shma and V'hoyoh im shomo'a are not written next to each other in the Torah, so when we write them in a mezuzoh we are not writing them exactly as they appear in the Torah. This can be derived from the gemara saying that either format is kosher. This means that we don't consider a mezuzoh a section of the Torah with all the laws of a Torah Scroll.
This would also explain why the gemara Z'vochim 31b permits writing the last words of the chapter "V'hoyoh im shomo'a," which are "al ho'oretz," in the middle or end of the last line of a mezuzoh, although this would create an extra space after the word "hashomayim," even though this space is not found in a Torah Scroll. The Rambam in 5:5 allows this in a mezuzoh, even though an extra blank spacing appearing where not called for invalidates a Torah Scroll. This is listed in the Rambam as the 17th of 20 reasons for invalidating a Torah Scroll in chapter 10:2.
Regarding tefillin the gemara does not say that either format, "s'sumoh" or "p'suchoh" is acceptable.
Indeed the Rambam in hilchos tefillin 2:2 and 2:8, when describing the details of writing the tefillin, says that they should be written "as a Torah Scroll." He does not say this by mezuzoh. This indicates that the parshios of tefillin are considered an actual section of a Torah Scroll and must comply with the rules of writing a Torah Scroll. This answers the question raised by the Beis Yosef in his commentary on the Tur. A strong corroboration to the difference pointed out above between tefillin and mezuzoh can be found in the responsa of the Shulchan Oruch hoRav #1 which can be found at the end of volume 6.
In any case, we now have an understanding of the RIO"Z's words that the two chapters of a mezuzoh are one paragraph, as a mezuzoh is not considered a small section of the Torah, and as such need not follow the paragraph spacing requirements of a Torah Scroll. This can well be the explanation of our M.R. which says ONE PARSHA of the mezuzoh. (n.l.)
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.
Verse 15 begins with the words, "Va'yichar l'Moshe m'ode." Although Rashi explains that it means that he was greatly pained, and commentators explain why Rashi did not accept the common interpretation of "he was angered greatly," we might say that Rabbeinu Chananeil translated these words in their common sense. Once Moshe was greatly angered, the rule of "boh lichlal kaas boh lichlal to'ose," - once one has become angry he readily can make a mistake" can be applied. This would explain why here he might have misunderstood. (n.l.)
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% dead wrong.
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. (n.l.)
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