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by Daneal Weiner
has got mussar in 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 Rashi and Onkelos, 'Korach separated himself' ( he took himself aside in arguement). 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? London bridge, an Edsel, swamp land in Gaum. It may break, it may not work, it's not what you expected, but you take away 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 Korach has that much greatness coming from him than he figured he must be right! We know he was wrong. Ergo, Korach and cohorts take a dive.
(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. Bnei Yisrael witnessed the worlds first heat-seeking vacuum and if it belong to Korach, Dasan or Aviram it was HOT!
Well, if that was their just deserts, then how did Korach merit having such tremendous descendant? One could imagine witnessing this miracle would instilled in Bnei Yisrael a little confidence in Moshe. Before, while Korach was trying to sway Bnei Yisrael away from Moshe’s leadership it was Moshe? Korach? Moshe? Korach? After this miracle it's MOSHE! MOSHE! MOSHE! For this someone deserved to be rewarded. Korach!
Now that Korach and family were gone, 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 lived and blossomed to bear tremendous fruits- 289 prophets - and all Korach got was the PIT! (Hey, who threw that heat-seeking tomato?)
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 purpose of creation! 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. 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 our 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 to descend into the pit, every bit of him 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? There are no guarantees when it comes to kids. So why did Korach think what he saw in his descendants was a reflection of him? Let’s make the question stronger.
Last week we briefly touched upon the idea that Hashem visits the iniquities of the fathers on the children when the children walk in the father’s footsteps. We saw last week 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, his name was affiliated with the descendant who told lashon horah on the land of Israel. Hold this thought.
The Vilna Gaon, from a Gemorah Niddah, says 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. For example, the Jewish gene. 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!
We learn in Parshas Vayetse that when Leah spent all her years crying not to have to marry Eisav she merited marrying Yaakov and also merited only having righteous children. Another occurrence of transmission of spiritual genes which affected what kind of children were to be born to Leah.
So now we can ask again, or differently, even when parents do affect via spiritual gene transmission what the descendnts will be, it obviously is dependant on the state of the parent at the time of conception of the child. So why should Korach seeing 289 righteous descendants have convinced him he was right to challenge Moshe now? If he was wrong now it would not retroactively or otherwise have anything to do with descendants he set in motions years before? Unless, Korach still knew something we don't know. What? EVERY physical manifestation is an insight into the spiritual realm. What other transmissions are there from father to son? Inheritance! If a father dies, the property goes to the sons! That’s the physical. What parallels it in the spiritual? The sins of the father! Even those committed AFTER the son was born.
Remember we said Hashem visits the iniquities of the father on the sons! Now we understand the verse two ways. And remember even the smallest belonging of a person is exactly what is needed for a person’s fulfillment in life? So if the father has 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! He knew if he were wrong the severity of the crime could not possibly enable him to have descendants like Shmuel HaNavi. The burden of the transgression on his sons and the reparations they would have to do would be too great. That was the one thing Korach knew.
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'. Now, 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 was saying, “Korach, if you die the death of normal men and your sons inherit you're sins, or rather lack thereof, as it would prove in this case, 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, then you will “descend ALIVE into the pit!" And all your possessions! No death, no inheritance, no visiting iniquities. Shmuel HaNavi could descend from Korach in spite of the magnitude of the sin sin!!! What an incredible vort by the Sfas Emes. Emes!
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?
Parshas 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 of all the names that can equal 95, why was Daniel chosen?
The one way that the book of Daniel stands out from the 23 other holy books 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 was, "Who put you in charge?" At Mt. Sinai Hashem said "They [Bnei Yisrael] will hear Me speak to you [Moshe] so that they will also believe in you forever." How could Korach 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. (I.e. Leah!) 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 Hashem's ‘plan A’ so to speak. 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 did Korach feel was Hashem’s plan A? 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. All this was background to Rav Wolfson who mentions from the Arizal that Korach was 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 show to an earlier close. He wanted to bring the curtain down after scene one but the show was just book for 40 (2000) years. Curtain time is hidden in the book of Daniel. Chazal phrase it that Korach "ate [the fruit] 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 usually read the first week in the month of Tamuz which is not such a good time on the Jewish calendar. But at the same time it's Parshas Korach, the mnemonic is Daniel. The exile has been decreed and so to has the redemption. The final redemption! In the end of days the months of Tamuz and Av, now times of destruction and mourning, will be turned into days of celebration. At that time Hashem's trait of Mercy will “overcome” His trait of Judgment. Chazal tell us that the Levites eminate 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 was convincing members of the tribe of Reuven to side with him as 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 with the pans of Korachs rebellion was to put a 'lid' on this push for the final redemption. But it is a covering of hope! It will come by following the Torah leaders. Not by following those claiming to know the short cuts. Korach challanged Moshe regarding tsitsis, "If the whole garment 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!?” Twisted Torah of which we hear too much of today?
One mitzvahs to come out of this parsha is not to be like Korach and his Cohorts. Where does the Gemorah learn it from? From Moshe Rabbeinu's SECOND attempt to make peace with Dasan and Aviram. I know we are always right when we argue but I don't thing any of us can claim to be more right than Moshe Rabbeinu. He had sent for Dasan and Aviram once already and they refused to go to Moshe. The second attempt is where the Gemorah learns the mitsvah from. And Moshe went to them! The language of the Gemorah is not “don't go looking for arguments” or “don’t get into arguments” but Rather “don't ‘hold’ onto an argument” or you’re considered as having the traits of Korach and his associates. After one try Moshe still would have been ‘holding on’! If Moshe had not tried second time he would have been GUILTY of being like Korach! Unbelievable! A big lesson in the lengths we must go.
Unlike Korach who is spending all history in reparation, one of his colleagues was made drunk by his wife and collapsed and missed the whole show down- which saved his life! There are definately some people out there who, if they just went to bed, they'd be much better off. All sorts of mussar in all shapes and sizes!
Speaking of shapes and sizes, have a well rounded, positive, grand, happy with your lot, And hopeful Shabbot Shalom!