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by Daneal Weiner
Can you name this tune?|
Happy Anniversary Happy Anniversary Happy Anniversary Haaaaappy Anniversary Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Anniversary Happy Happy Happy Happy Happy Anniversary!
One year, gentlemen and ladies, since Orchards was planted in that vast wasteland we call cyberspace. That's only till it ALL gets filled with the words of Torah. Then it will be called 'Cybishterspace'! ...3...2...1 OK. Enough of this lolligagging. On with the Anniversary celebration! And what better parsha to celebrate by then...Korach? Hmm? Gives one pause. I think it's my just deserts. In a town I lived in there was a synagogue interviewing for a new Rabbi. The members were split on who to hire. One half wanted a distinguished scholar to tell them what to do and the other half wanted somebody they could tell what to do. So the they split. The scholar and supporters stayed in the established quarters and turned it into a beautiful minyan. Quiet. Respectful dress. Quiet. A decent pace. Quiet. The other half went elsewhere. And guess what parsha it was on which they broke off!? It was so apropos. Truth is, analogous or not to this parsha (it was), it was not necessarily for broadcasting. So 'suddenly' I find myself sharing the same anniversary. It should be a kaparah- an atonement! And speaking of just deserts and atonement's, this week's
has got it all and in all shapes and sizes!
The parsha opens with the words, "Vayikach Korach"- And Korach took. If I may indulge in a synopsis of a vort from last year. The Gemorah Sanhedrin says these words mean he took something. ArtScroll translates according to context, 'Korach separated himself' ( he took himself aside). The Gemorah knows there are plenty other words denoting separation if that's all it wanted to say. What did Korach take? Raish Lakish answers, "He took a bum deal!" The B'eir Yoseph asks, what kind of an answer is that? Even in a bum deal, you get something? It may break, it may not work, it's not what you expected, but you do get something! We still don't know what Korach took!?
The B'eir Yoseph's answer starts with the question, what made Korach think he could take on Moshe in the first place?! Rashi tells us that Korach saw through his Ruach HaKodesh- Divine inspiration, that 289 prophets would descend from him, one of which was Shmuel Hanavi! If he has that much greatness coming from him than he thought he must be right! We know he was wrong.
(17:32) "The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households and all the people who were with Korach, and their entire wealth." That gives a pretty clear picture of what's going on. Then the next verse says, "Them and all that was theirs descended live into the pit."? Well, after learning the demise of "their households" and "their entire wealth" from the first verse, what did the second verse's "all that was theirs" add to the picture? It adds the shirt that Korach left at the dry cleaners. It came right off the rack and was sucked down into the pit. His socks which long ago disappeared in the wash just reappeared, long enough to say good-bye. The needle that the neighbor borrowed came darting through the crowds and went straight down the pit! Bnei Yisrael witnessed the worlds first heat-seeking vacuum and if it belong to Korach, Dasan or Aviram it was HOT!
One could imagine witnessing this miracle instilled in Bnei Yisrael a little confidence in Moshe. Before, it was Moshe? Korach? Moshe? Korach? Now it's MOSHE! MOSHE! MOSHE! For this someone needed to be rewarded. We've seen other times when even the purely wicked who have turned Bnei Yisrael back to Torah have merited descendants who learned Torah. Measure for measure, what other reward could there be? Haman had descendants learning Torah in Bnei Brak, as we saw Purim and read about in the Hagadah. I heard a shmooze just this past Shabbos by a Rabbi Shechter. He told of a Gemorah (I think. Maybe it was a Midrash) where Hashem even wanted to reward Nebuchadnetsar (who destroyed the temple) with descendants learning Torah. The angels protested so Hashem withdrew the reward. He could only reward him with the next closest thing- reign over the entire world. Rabbi Shechter asked his Rav why the angels protested about Nebuchadnetsar and not about Haman. The Rav asked him what he thought. Rabbi Shechter said, "Haman gave us the holiday Purim and Nebuchadnetsar gave us a day of mourning, the 9th of Av?" He never saw his Rav laugh so hard. But I digress.
Now that Korach was out of the picture, who were all his descendants to descend from? From Korach's sons who did Tshuva! And this, according to the B'eir Yoseph, was the bum deal that Raish Lakish had in mind. Korach's sons were able to blossom bearing such tremendous fruits- 289 prophets - and all Korach got was the PIT!
This idea behind the heat sinking vacuum is not new! The miracle itself was very new. The idea behind it we learn back in Breishis when Yaakov and family left Lavan and headed back for Israel. Breishis 32:26 says that "Yaakov was left alone..." But he was just with his family? Rashi, based on a Gemorah in Chullin says, "He forgot some small earthenware vessels and returned for them." Our Sages teach that within every object resides a spiritual essence of that individual to whom the object belongs. Jealousy and theft are so despised by our Creator because they deny His very purpose! Every man and woman has a job for which they were created and Hashem gives everyone exactly what they need to perform it. Even just wishing for what someone else has, let alone stealing it, says that Hashem made a mistake. He gave someone less than necessary. Or someone else too much. Blasphemy! Someone else's property has NOTHING to do with one's own mission. Nada. Nil. Efes. Zero. Zilch. And that goes for more than just tangible possessions. It applies to the intangible as well.
It's more than just having the right tools and strengths. Everything is an extension of it's owner. When we use abilities and property for good, kindness, for serving Hashem then we elevate ourselves intrinsically and via our possessions. Yaakov went back to fetch a part of himself he left behind! If he didn't he would have forever missed out on the opportunity to elevate that aspect of himself contained within the small vessels. And so when Hashem wanted Korach and cohorts to descend into the pit, every bit of them went!!!
Perhaps this was the divine judgment, measure for measure. Of course it was. What I mean is, if I were to guess what was the divine judgment, measure for measure, it could be that Korach was jealous of Moshe. He wanted the power Moshe had. He wanted the positions Moshe gave out. Hashem therefore punished him in a way showing him that what Moshe had had nothing to do with him. Every possession that was connected with Korach went with him impressing upon him/us this idea. Anything else was not his role, not his function, not his fulfillment, not something he should have been chasing.
The Sfas Emes asks a great question we just took for granted up above. We said Korach felt he was correct in his argument because he foresaw his descendants. What do they have to do with him??? No wicked parent ever had a righteous kid? No righteous parent ever had a wicked kid? Why did Korach think what he saw in his descendants was a reflection on him?
Last week we briefly touched upon the idea that Hashem visits the iniquities of the fathers on the children to the third or fourth generation. We said that Yoseph's name was attached to the spy from his son Menashe's tribe and not to the spy from his son Ephrayim's tribe because just as Yoseph told lashon horah on his brothers, he was affiliated with the spy who told lashon horah on the land of Israel. Would you believe there's more?
We said a few weeks back (in the Shavuos Special) in the name of the Vilna Gaon, who got it from a Gemorah Niddah, that while Hashem provides a child the soul, the mother provides the flesh and blood and the father gives his children the bones- or what some might call the osteo-bone component. What goes on in the physical realm is just an insight into what goes on in the spiritual realm. There are spiritual components that get passed on as well. One example, if the mother gives the blood and the Torah tells us the soul is in the blood it is understandable that only the mother determines who is a Jew! It just occurred to me, we also learn this idea in Parshas Vayetse, when Leah cried not to marry Eisav for which she merited only righteous children. There we talk about the transmission of good and bad spiritual genes which would have affected the what kind of children were to be born to her.
So now you can ask (in general or) regarding Leah, if her tears gave her the good kids, it means the spiritual gene transmission is subject to the state of the parent at the time of conception. So why should Korach sinning now have anything to do with children he had years ago? Meaning seeing 289 righteous descendants should not have convinced him he was right!? Unless, Korach still knew something we don't know. EVERY physical manifestation is an insight into the spiritual realm. What other transmission is there from father to son? Inheritance! If a father dies, the property goes not to the mother but to the sons! And so does some aspect of the sins of the father, those committed AFTER the son was born. Any die hard women's libbers and feminuts still want to complain the Torah is sexist for favoring the sons as inheritors over the mothers? Hashem visits the iniquities of the father on the sons!!! Not on the wives. And if the father had a job to do with the possessions necessary to do the job...and he DIDN'T do it...then the son, who takes his father's place, who picks up the transgression, who now gains the job of reparation, he also gains the fathers possession to assist him and be present for that reparation! So NOW that Korach saw his descendants were 289 righteous prophets it must be that he was doing the right thing! Because so severe a crime as denying Moshe's Torah could not possibly enable him to have descendants like Shmuel HaNavi if he in fact were wrong!! But there was one more thing that Korach didn't know and never could have imagined!!!
What is the language used in by this axiom we're discussing, "visiting" the iniquity of the fathers on the sons? "Pokaid" is the word, loosely translated as 'visiting'. And what was the prayer Moshe said before Hashem in judging Korach? 16:29, "If these die like the death of all men, and the destiny of all men is visited upon them..." Did you catch it? "VISITED upon them..." (Hebrew, "yiPakaid")!!! Moshe said, Korach, If you die the death of normal men and your sons inherit you're sins, or lack thereof, then you may indeed deserve the likes of Shmuel HaNavi, because you'd be right and I'd be wrong! But if I am right and you are wrong, continues Moshe's prayer to Hashem, "they will descend ALIVE to the pit!" Shmuel HaNavi could descend from Korach IN SPITE of Korach's sin because he never died!!!! His sins was never transmitted via inheritance!!!! That calculation Korach didn't take into account.
Keeping in line with all these few past parshas, from Miriam's lashon horah to Bnei Yisrael's complaining for free food to the spies to Korach, we have to ask, what was Korach really doing? He was from the tribe of Kahat. He was a member of the Levite family designated to carry the holy ark! If he was a wicked man, a real outright rebel against Hashem and Torah, he'd already be dead!?! What was he really doing that enabled him to survive carrying the ark while still suffering this terrible fate?
Korach has 95 pasukim. At the end of every parsha Chazal give a mnemonic whose gematria is the number of verses in the parsha. The mnemonic itself is a hint to the message of the parsha. The mnemonic for Parshas Korach is DANEAL! Oh, all right, Daniel. Daled, nun, yud, aleph, lamed adds up to 95. So from all the names that equal 95, why was this one chosen?
The one way that the book of Daniel stands out over any other holy book is that the date of the final redemption is buried somewhere in it. The Rabbainu Bechayai, back in Shmos, has different calculations for different periods of time that the final redemption could have occurred. Those were all if it came before its time. But ITS TIME, which is guaranteed if all else fails, is only in the book of Daniel. So what does the time of the final redemption have to do with Korach?
Korach's complaint to Moshe- "Who put you in charge?" With all the support Moshe received from Hashem, like by Mt. Sinai when Hashem said "They [Bnei Yisrael] will hear Me speak to you [Moshe] so that they will also believe in you forever," how could he not think Moshe was in charge?
Rav Notek Schiller explains that G-d gave us the reality of prayer and it links our desires and actions into the world. If we desire and pray and take action towards a particular end, it is possible that we WILL bring about that end! Even if it might not have been first choice in Hashem's scheme of things! Korach knew that G-d had chosen Moshe but he felt that it was because of Moshe's incredibly strong will, actions and prayer that G-d said, "Oh, Ok, you lead them." What was first choice? Korach's other complaint, (16:3) "It is too much for you! For the entire assembly, all of them, are holy and H' is among them; why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of Hashem?!" Korach complained that Moshe made his brother and brother's descendants the priests when plan A was for the entire nation to be priests!! "Ahm mamleches Kohanim!" An entire nation of priests!
In the time of the final redemption, all the Jews will become the priests and we will service the 3rd Temple for the rest of the world who will be like the new Israel. Rav Wolfson brings down from the Arizal that Korach was actually trying to speed up the end of days! After just hearing that the Jews were now to wander for 40 years in the desert, a microcosm of 2000 years of exile, Korach wanted to bring the whole show to a close. The problem was that he was in the middle of an act and curtain time is hidden in the book of Daniel. Chazal phrase it that he "ate before it was ripe." Perhaps this is why the book of Daniel concludes with "Praiseworthy are those who wait..."
Rav Wolfson goes on to discuss the fact that Parshas Korach is read the first week into the month of Tamuz which is not such a good time. But at the same time it's Parshas Korach, and the mnemonic is Daniel which means final redemption! The months of Tamuz and Av which are now times of destruction and mourning will be flipped around into a time of celebration in the end of days. Also at that time Hashem's trait of Mercy rule, overcoming the trait of Judgment. Chazal tell us that the Levites stem from the trait of Mercy. Reuven, who was the forth flag in the camp, parallels the fourth month which is Tamuz, a month which represents Judgment, connecting Reuven to Judgment. Part of Korach's plan in convincing members of the tribe of Reuven to side with him was an attempt at manifesting the aforementioned time of redemption, when Mercy (the Levites) will win over Judgment (Reuven). The firepans of the 250 members of Reuven where beaten into a covering for the Alter called a "Tsipui". The word "tsapit" means "hope for". In the third Temple, all of the vessels will be the same as those of the first two Temples except for one. The Alter! The message Hashem was giving by covering the Alter was to put a 'lid' on this push for the final redemption. But it was covered with hope! It will come by following the Torah leaders. Not by following those claiming to have short-cuts. Korach asked, "If the whole garb is blue, do the tsitsit need a string of blue." The blue string is to recognize the Throne of Glory. So the whole blue garb will do just that! Who needs the actual law?! Isn't the idea enough!? Sound like any movements you know?
We have to make these times of negative influences into positive ones. Extra acts of chesed. Extra Torah. One mitzvahs to come out of this parsha is not to be like Korach and his Cohorts. Where is that learned from? From Moshe Rabbeinu's SECOND attempt to make peace with Dasan and Aviram. I know we are all correct when we argue but I don't thing any of us can claim to be more right than Moshe Rabbeinu was against Korach and still he made a SECOND effort to make peace. He had sent for Dasan and Aviram once already and they refused. The second attempt is where the Gemorah learns the mitsvah from. This means that if Moshe had NOT tried a second time HE would have been GUILTY of being like Korach and cohorts! The language of the Gemorah is not don't 'go' looking for arguments or 'getting into' them but don't "hold" onto one. After one try Moshe still would have been holding on! Unbelievable! A big lesson for the lengths we must go.
Unlike Korach who is spending all history in reparation, On, a cohort, was made drunk by his wife, put to bed, and he was spared death! He was forgiven. There are definately some people out there who, if the just went to bed, they'd be much better off. Just deserts and atonements in all shapes and sizes!
Speaking of going to bed, have a peaceful, positive, happy with your lot, hopeful and nap-ful Shabbot Shalom!