Parshas Korach:
 By: Yaacov Silverstein
e@mail: hm16@popeye.cc.biu.ac.il
HomePage: http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/

This Dvar Torah was prepared in the merit and memory of my grandfather: Rav Yitzchak Zev Ben Yisroel Mordechai HaKohen Solomon

Parshas Korach:

Korach and his followers:


The Mishna in Avos says the following:

"If a Machlokes (argument) is Lshem Shamayim(for the sake of Heaven) it will be able to stand, while if it is not Lshem Shamayim, nothing will come out of it in the future.

What is a case of a Machlokes Lshem Shamayim? A Machlokes similar to that of Hillel and Shamai, which we find throughout the Gemarah.

What type is not Lshem Shamayim? Machlokes of Korach and his followers."

Why is the Machlokes of "Korach and Adaso" chosen as an example of a Machlokes not Lshem Shamayim? Why is it not called the Machlokes of "Korach and Moshe", rather its called, "Korach and his followers"? Korach wasn't arguing with his followers??

So Rav Schwab explains that in a Machlokes Lshem Shamayim, both parties are willing to realize that there is another side to the Machlokes, and each side wants to get to the truth.

In order for one to get to the truth, one must hear the other side, one must be willing to admit that there is another side to the argument. By Korach and his followers, they weren't interested to get to the truth, they were interested in showing only their side, thus Moshe was not part of the Machlokes, because they were the only side in the argument.

The Ksav Sofer explains that when an argument is Lshem Shamayim, both sides have only one intent, for the sake of Heaven, thus it will stand.

However, if the argument is not Lshem Shamayim, each side will try to pull the other to his side, for each one has his own personal interests in the argument, which is different than the others. Thus as time goes by, the ones involved in the argument, will distance themselves from one another, and there will be friction between them, and thus the argument will end by itself, for they will separate from each other and won't talk to the other, therefore its end won't stand.

This was the Machlokes of "Korach and his followers". They themselves disagreed with one another, each one had a different reason to argue, thus their argument had no "feet" to it and couldn't stand.

Rav Schlesinger recounts the different sides that Korach's followers had in the argument:

a) Korach argued because he was jealous of "Elitzafon Ben Uziel", thus he went against Moshe and Aharon.

b) The 250 leaders were not jealous of Moshe & Aharon, and they did not go against the leadership, rather they wanted to have a say in matters which would affect the Bnei Yisroel. They felt that the present leadership was like a dictatorship.

c) Finally, Datan & Aviram, did not argue about the leadership or type of leadership, rather they didn't feel that they needed any leadership, they wanted an anarchy.

At first the argument of Korach may seem to have had some slight meaning behind it, but this is the way arguments usually go. They start off with sensible statements, but when they are not Lshem Shamayim, they end off like Datan & Aviram, arguing for the sake of argument.

The only thing that joined them all together was the fact that they all wanted to argue, yet they each had different goals.

We must be willing to listen to and consider the other side, we may not agree with them, but we must realize that they do exist.

We also must be careful that whenever we do get into an argument, we should never reach the state of arguing for the sake of arguing.

The Gemarah says that just like one's faces are different and thus no two people are alike. The same is with opinions, no one thinks exactly like us. Rav Shlomo Eiger explains that this example of faces is used because just like people's faces are different than yours, and it doesn't bother you that you are unique, and you can live with that, the same is when it comes to others thinking unlike you. (Adapted from Rav Frand, Ksav Sofer, Alei Hadvarim Al HaTorah)

Nothing wrong:


Moshe defends himself against the followers of Korach, and says "I didn't take anything from anyone. And I didn't do anything against anyone of them."

The Chasam Sofer writes that we learn in the Gemarah(Kedushin 7a), that an important person who receives a present from a woman, can be Mekadesh the lady through the benefit of honor which she gets by him accepting the gift.

From here we see that when an important person does not want to accept a gift from someone, it is as if he doesn't respect them, and he is embarrassing the other person.

This is what Moshe is saying, "I didn't accept one donkey as a present", nevertheless, "I didn't do anything wrong to them", I didn't make them feel bad, I didn't lower there self respect. This is the true sign of a humble person, for the truly humble person makes no calculations of "what will people think of me if I show respect to another person".

He is not afraid of what others will think of him. One who treats others according to the Torah ideals of how a person should be treated, will ultimately elevate his own true stature regardless of how other people may react.

There is a story brought down in the book "Five Great Lives" (http://www.artscroll.com) of the Steipler Gaon showing up at a young man's Bar Mitzvah. His appearance was surprising to the other guests, the great Torah leader sat down next to the Bar Mitzvah boy, exchanged a few words with him, and left.

The guests were eager to know what the Steipler came to speak to the "young man" about.

The boy explained that several years ago, when he entered his Shul on Erev Yom Kippur, he was carrying a large Sefer, which the Steipler mistook for a Gemarah.

The Steipler gently admonished the boy, stating that "now was the time for Tefillah, not learning". The boy showed the Steipler, that actually his big Sefer was a large Machzor, and not a Gemarah.

The Steipler regretted the reproach which he gave, but the forgiveness of a minor has no Halachic validity. So the moment the boy became Bar Mitzvah, the Steipler took this opportunity to ask for forgiveness.

One who treats others the way the Torah requires, in humbleness, actually makes himself a more "looked up to" person.

Present anger:


The Sefer Imrei Shamai brings down a Yerushalmi and says that it had to be that Moshe took nothing from anyone. "For anyone who knows the explicit name of Hashem (Shem Ha Mefurosh), never took any benefit from any individual. Why? So the Yerushalmi explains that we are afraid that if he would get angry at the giver of that gift, he may use the Shem Ha Mefurosh to kill the person.

Since we know Moshe used this name to kill a person who was beating up a fellow Jew, we know that he didn't take any gifts from anyone, otherwise he wouldn't have used the name."

What is meant here?

Does this make sense? Isn't it more logical if you gave something to someone and got angry at him that you would curse the person? No, it says the opposite, someone gave you and you may get so angry at this person, that you may kill him. What is meant by this?

Thus we learn a very important insight from the Yerushalmi, that we tend to get angry at people who have done us favors.

Humans don't like owing favors to others, thus we are more apt to dislike and at times turn against, not people whom we did favors, but people who have done us favors. As Rav Dessler writes, when you give something to another person, he becomes part of you, how can you hate part of your self, this is actually harder.

Thus you are in the position to use the name of Hashem, against the person.

The Chasam Sofer once said, "I don't know why this guy hates me, I never did him any favors."

No, its not backwards, its the people who we are good to, these are the people who may turn around against us. This is part of the tension between parents and children, because it is hard to live with the fact, that "I owe you". (Adapted from Rav Frand, Chasam Sofer, Five Great Lives)



This weeks Parsha discusses the commandment of the "First Born Animal".

Temple times:


In the time of the Temple, the first born (Kosher Behaima(cattle ,sheep...)) was brought as a sacrifice (Kodshim Kalim) and its meat was eaten by a Kohen in Yerushalayim.

One is also commanded not to redeem it from the Kohen, for it is holy.

One is forbidden to do work with the animal, and in the case of sheep or the like, one is forbidden to shear it.

Now a days:


Since we have no Temple in our days, one is to care for the animal (Beheima Gasa - 50 days. Beheima Daka 30 days), and then give it over to a Kohen. The Kohen then cares for it till the animal gets a blemish. One is forbidden to cause a blemish to the animal.

One knowledgeable person (Mumche) or 3 simple people are needed to decide if the blemish is an actual blemish. When the animal dies, it needs to be buried.

There are many more Halachos that apply here, this is just a quick glance of a probably not well known by all, Halacha.