CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON PARSHAS KORACH 5775 - BS"D
1) 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?
2) Ch. 16, v. 12: "Va'yishlach Moshe likro l'Doson v'laAvirom" - And Moshe sent to call for Doson and Avirom - Who was/were greater rebels against Moshe, Korach or Doson and Avirom?
3) 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?
4) 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?
5) Ch. 17, v. 23: "Shkeidim" - Almonds - Why of all things, did the staff produce almonds beyond the obvious answer that the stick was taken from an almond tree?
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)
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.
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)
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. (Parp'ro'ose laTorah)
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)
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