JUNE 7-8, 2013 30 SIVAN 5773
"And he [Moshe] said to Hashem, 'Do not turn to their gift offering.'" (Bemidbar 16:15) The perashah begins with the tragic revolt led by Korah against Moshe. Moshe suggests that the dispute be resolved by challenging Korah and his followers to prepare incense offerings, which they will offer to Hashem. Aharon will do so as well, and the person whom Hashem truly desires and selects to serve Him will survive, while all the others will perish.
After Korah refuses to back down and accepts the challenge, even at the cost of his own life and the lives of his followers, Moshe grows angry and prays to Hashem not to accept the offerings of Korah. Rabbi Ozer Alpert asks, why was it necessary for Moshe to pray that the offerings not be accepted? If Hashem would accept them it would be tantamount to substantiating Korah's blasphemous and heretical arguments. Wasn't it obvious that Hashem wouldn't do something which would cause catastrophic consequences?
Rabbi Alpert tells the following story, that will help answer our question. Rabbi Shalom Schwadron was once praying at the Kotel, when he was startled by a loud noise. Turning around, he saw two men wearing leather and chains who had just pulled up behind him on a motorcycle. One man took out a pen and paper and scribbled a note, which he showed to his friend. After his friend nodded his approval, he folded up the paper and placed it in one of the cracks of the Kotel. The men returned to their motorcycle and sped off with a bang.
Rabbi Schwadron was curious as to what these seemingly non-spiritual men had written. Suddenly a gust of wind blew the poorly placed paper straight to his feet. He picked it up and read, "Please Hashem, Maccabi Tel Aviv (a sports team) for the league championship" - a prayer which was apparently subsequently answered.
The lesson of the story is that contrary to what we get used to believing, prayer is not only for those of the highest level of piety. A prayer from the depths of the heart is a powerful thing. We say every day in "Ashrei," "Karob Hashem lechol kor'av - Hashem is close to all those which call out to him genuinely."
Moshe knew that with their lives on the line, Korah and his followers, heretics that they were, would pray for the acceptance of their incense offerings with tremendous fervor and intent. He had no choice but to counter their powerful prayers with an even more potent one of his own. Moshe knew that a heartfelt prayer about whatever is important to the supplicant - whether it is the final score of a sporting event or even the deposition of Hashem's hand-picked prophet and leader - brings him close to Hashem, who is likely to answer such prayers in the affirmative. This is a lesson we should remember the next time we open a Siddur. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"It's enough for you, sons of Levi." (Bemidbar 16:7)
When Korah, Datan and Abiram came to Moshe and questioned his authority, they also expressed their wishes to become like the Kohanim, and serve G-d in a closer way. Moshe tried to diffuse the issue by saying that they already have a special status by being Leviim (Levites), so why ask for more? Ultimately, this became a major rebellion, and the only way it could be squashed is by an open miracle of the earth swallowing up Korah and his followers. This was Divine proof that Moshe was correct in his decision.
However, the Midrash tells us that forty years later, when Moshe begged and pleaded with Hashem to try to enter Israel, Hashem refused him with the same words that Moshe used to Korah, "lk cr - It is enough for you," which is similar to "ofk cr/" Hashem was saying to him, "Moshe, it is enough for you to be the leader here. You don't have to go to Israel." The reason these same words were used was that Moshe was being shown that it is incorrect to tell someone not to strive for a greater position in spiritual matters. Although Korah used the wrong methods and ultimately paid with his life, he still wanted an opportunity to get closer to Hashem, and Moshe seemed to be telling him, "It's enough. You don't need more."
We learn from here an important lesson. If we see someone getting close to Hashem more than we are able to handle for ourselves, we should never hold him back. Sometimes we see people learning more Torah than we do, or praying Amidah for a longer time. Even if we cannot be like them, we should not discourage them. We should understand that everyone has to be comfortable on his own level and ideally, we should be happy that Hashem is being served in a better way. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
If people are not careful to eat a balanced diet, they run the risk of developing deficiencies. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies manifest themselves in a variety of ways including weak bones, poor night vision, scurvy, and hair loss. A doctor or nutritionist can diagnose such problems and prescribe the doses needed to fulfill the body's requirements. A change of diet and the addition of required supplements will generally lead to the disappearance of symptoms and the body's return to full health.
Unbeknownst to many is the fact that the soul also requires a minimum of basic spiritual nutrients in order to function properly. This list of spiritual nutrients is made up of the various commandments of the Torah, and its study. People who have a balanced diet of service to Hashem and acts of kindness to others feel spiritually healthy; this results in a sense of happiness.
The problem is that those who do not get enough spiritual nutrients suffer from a malady called discontent. Since people cannot go to a doctor or nutritionist to establish a curative diet for the soul, they often try quick fixes. A woman might go shopping or out to a restaurant. A man may go to the gym or gamble. A teen may drive at dangerously high speeds or even turn to drugs. Each is trying to feed the discontent with a pleasure.
But there is a big difference between happiness and pleasure. Pleasure is a physical enjoyment of one of the many delightful and exciting things with which Hashem has filled His Creation. We may - and indeed, should - enjoy them. However, we should not confuse the momentary "up" of any of these pleasures with happiness. Happiness is the spiritual sensation we feel when doing something that brings us closer to our ultimate purpose. In the world of the spirit, happiness results when we do something that brings us closer to Hashem. Feeding this need to be close to Hashem cannot be done with physical items of joy and pleasure. Only vitamins of the soul - Torah and misvot - can fulfill the deficiency. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
Call to 646-279-8712 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Privacy of email limited by the email address)
Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.
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