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Parshas Korach

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Parshas Korach
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Yismach Moshe - I Hid In My Tent Until It Was All Over

The Yismach Moshe was learning Parshas Korach with his young grandson the Yeitiv Lev. The Yeitv Lev made a comment showing that he didn't think much of Korach. At that point the Yismach Moshe admonished him saying that we have no idea the greatness of Korach. In fact added the Yismach Moshe that he himself is a "Gilgul" from the Dor HaMidbar and he himself was not sure who to follow since this seemed to be a valid argument between the two greatest men of the generation.

His grandson then asked him "if so what did you do and how did you save yourself?" The Yismach Moshe said "Not wanting to be part of the Machlokes I ran into my tent and closed the entrance tightly. I refused to come out until it was all over."


Dasan and Aviram Leaders of Klal Yisroel?

Shortly after Korach began the feud with Moshe, Moshe called to speak to Dasan and Aviram in order make peace. According to the Kli Yakar, Dasan and Aviram suspected that since they were the ring leaders Moshe was going to bribe them with important positions in order for them to exit the fray and then the whole feud would lose its steam.

This is seen from their response to Moshe of "Lo Naaleh"; "we won't go up", up in stature and position. This also explains the reference to their accusation of Moshe blinding them. The pasuk in Devarim says that accepting bribery "blinds even the wise". They claimed that the reason for refusing this offer (that was never made) was that even if they were to accept the offer and turn a blind eye, Moshe cannot blind all the people and that their accepting the offer would only lend additional credence to the accusations.


Who Needs Leaders!

VaYikach Korach" - "And Korach separated himself". Korach assembled 250 prestigious men, and dressed them with garments made entirely of blue wool. They stood before Moshe saying," a four-cornered garment requires Tzitzis and 1 string must be of techeiles - blue wool: does a garment entirely made of blue wool require a blue string or is it exempt? Korach's dispute with Moshe was over leadership. How is his question relevant?

Rabeinu Bachye answers, Korach was upset that Moshe and Aaron held leadership positions and that his cousin Elitzafan was appointed as leader of the Kehas family. He argued that leadership is needed only when there are different levels of people in the community. Since the entire community was holy, it was unjustified that one should become holier than the holy.

He substantiated his argument with an example from the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. A four-cornered garment requires Tzitzis and 1 string must be of techeiles. However, when the entire Talis is made of blue wool, logically a string of blue wool is unnecessary. Likewise, when the entire community is holy, there is no need for anyone to have special status.

Moshe responded that according to Halacha even a Talis entirely of blue wool requires a string of Techeiles in the Tzitzis, and regardless of the caliber of the community, leadership is always necessary.


What Happened to Oin Ben Peles?

In his quarrel with Moshe- Dasan, Aviram and Oin Ben Peles joined Korach. When the Torah describes their punishment, however, Oin Ben Peles is no longer mentioned (see 16:24). What happened to him?

Oin Ben Peles was among the people that Korach managed to persuade to join him in his rebellion against Moshe. When his wife heard of his intentions, she said to him, "Why are you getting involved in this quarrel? Don't you realize that regardless of who the leader is you remain the same ordinary person? Moshe is a holy man and it is foolish for you to join an attempt to overthrow him"

Oin Ben Peles listened to his wife and responded, "You are right, but I have already promised Korach that I will join the rebellion. How can I let him down now?" His wife replied, "I understand your dilemma; leave it up to me and I will get you out of it." She then served him a hearty meal with good wine, which put him to sleep. Afterwards she sat at the entrance to their tent with her hair uncovered, behavior considered immodest for a Jewish married woman.

When Korach and his followers came to the tent to summon him, and noticed an immodest lady at the entrance, they decided to leave without him. Thanks to his wife's intervention, his life was saved.

Regarding wise women, Shlomo Hamelech says, "Chochmas Nashim Bonsah Baisah" - "The wise among women, each builds her house." - Gemorrah Senhedren 100a.


Dasan AND Aviram?

"Velo Harayoisee Es Achad Mayhem" - "Neither have I wronged one of them" The words "Es Achad Mayhem" - "One of them" - seems extra. He could have simply said, " Lo Harayoisee Lahem" - " I did not wrong them"?

Chasam Sofer answers, when Moshe visited his brothers in the fields of Mitzrayim, he noticed 2 Jews, Dasan and Aviram, fighting amongst themselves. When 1 lifted a hand against the other, he exclaimed, "Rasha, why do you strike your brother?" Moshe broke up the fight and thus spared the other a beating.

When Korach came to argue with Moshe, the infamous rebels joined him, Dasan and Aviram. Moshe was shocked to see them and said in amazement, "The one I stopped from beating up his friend may have reason to be angry with me, but "Velo Harayoisee Es Achad Mayhem" - to one of them I did no evil - in fact I rescued him - why does he join the rebellion???


Can You Count All The Way To "T-I-S-T-A-R-E-R"?

Korach accused Moshe of wanting to rule over Bnei Yisroel. For the word rule he used the word "Tistarer". The Rokeach points out that the gematria of the word Tistarer is 1,500 (the highest of any word in the Torah). If you add up the 22 letters of the Aleph Bais from Aleph through Tuf the gematria is 1,495. Add the 5 letters at the end of words (Mem, Nun, Tzadi, Pey, Kuf) and you have 1500. Korach was telling Moshe just because you brought down the Torah that was written with the 22 regular letters and 5 "Osios Kefulos" it is does not give you a right to boss over us.


250 Burned Tzadikim - Too Hot To Handle

Why did the 250 people who joined up with Korach burn to death and not share his fate in the bowels of the earth? The Shela HaKadosh explains that there were 3 groups of people in the rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu; Korach who was a "letz", Doson and Aviram who were "resha'im", and the 250 tzadikim who simply wanted the leadership to get closer to Hashem.

These 250 were like Nadav and Avihu who were waiting for Moshe and Aharon to die so that they can inherit the leadership and be close to Hashem. That is why both the 250 tzadikim and Nadav V'Avihu brought the Ketores which is an Avodah that connects man's soul to the Heavens. Both these affairs ended with the Neshamos being burned and their body's perfectly intact. Hashem is fire and one who brings his soul closer than it can handle gets devoured by this might blaze.


Are You Sure You Know What Happened to Korach?

A careful reading of the pasukim in this week's parsha shows that it doesn't mention Korach's death explicitly only that of his group. The 250 people who joined Korach were burned to death. Dasan and Aviram were swallowed alive in the earth. What happened to Korach?

There is an opinion in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 110a) that Korach did not die with those who were burnt or those swallowed by the earth, but he actually died later in a plague. Another opinion says that Korach was both burnt and swallowed in to the earth: When the 250 people began to bring their Ketores, Korach joined them and was consumed by fire. He was standing near the pit, which opened up for Dasan and Aviram, and rolled in to the open mouth of the earth.

According to the latter opinion, the reason Korach received both punishments is, if he had only been burnt and not swallowed, Dasan and Aviram would have complained, "Why were we burnt as followers of Korach, while Korach himself was not?" If he would have been swallowed but not burnt, the 250 people would have had a similar complaint. He therefore received both punishments.

The fire burnt his Neshama, and his body rolled in to the open mouth of the earth. Thus all people witnessed him receiving his just deserts.


Korach's Secret Agenda

Why did Korach only challenge Moshe right after the story of the Mergalim? Rav Yehonoson Eibushitz explains that up until the punishment for the meraglim Bnei Yisroel were supposed to travel 11 days to get to Eretz Yisroel. Korach knew that Moshe Rabbeinu was destined not to enter Eretz Yisroel. He was biding his time as his ambition was to lead Bnei Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel. Once it was decreed that the Bnei Yisroel would stay in the Midbar for 40 years and they would all die, Korach's only hope for leadership was to directly challenge the leadership of Moshe.

Another answer he says is that Korach was one of the "Nos'ei HaAron". Carrying the Aron was a tremendous occupational hazard. It was like going into the Kodesh HaKadashim. If you weren't completely pure you would die. Once Bnei Yisroel would enter Eretz Yisroel there would be no need to carry the Aron anymore and Korach couldn't wait to be relieved of this task. After the Meraglim he realized the only way to get out of his job was to become the leader.

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