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Parshas Korach - Vol. 4,
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Vayikach Korach ben Yitzhar ben Kehas ben Levi (16:1)
Parshas Korach revolves around Korach’s challenge to the authority and leadership of Moshe and Aharon. Korach ultimately leads a full-fledged rebellion against them, one which ends in disastrous and tragic results. The Torah refers to Korach as the son of Yitzhar, who was the son of Kehas, who was the son of Levi. Rashi explains that the Torah doesn’t continue the family tree by stating that Levi was the son of Yaakov because Yaakov prayed that his name not be mentioned in association with Korach’s rebellion. As Korach was four generations removed from Yaakov, who wasn’t even alive at the time of this episode, what difference did it make to Yaakov whether his name was used in conjunction with Korach’s ancestry?
The Shemen HaTov explains that Yaakov’s life was full of difficulties and struggles. Even in the womb, he fought with his wicked twin Eisav to emerge first and claim the birthright. When he subsequently purchased the birthright from Eisav and used it to receive their father Yitzchok’s blessings, Eisav wanted to kill him and Yaakov had to flee for his life. He spent the next 20 years with his wicked uncle Lavan, with whom he also struggled as Lavan repeatedly tricked and deceived him. He returned to Canaan and again had to pacify Eisav, only to be confronted with the attack on his daughter Dina by Shechem and the jealousy of his sons toward his beloved Yosef.
In short, Yaakov’s was a life fraught with strife and conflict. He accepted this as his Divinely-ordained lot and engaged in these disputes solely for the sake of Heaven. Yet when Yaakov prophetically saw that his great-great-grandson would engage in an argument purely for the sake of his personal honor, he feared that people would assume that Korach was merely continuing in the aggressive, confrontational path that he inherited from Yaakov. Since nothing could be further from the truth, Yaakov prayed that his name not be used in association with Korach’s genealogy in order to emphasize that Korach’s selfish rebellion had no origins in the struggles engaged in by his ancestor Yaakov for the sake of Heaven.
Ul’bnei Levi hinei nasati kol ma’aser b’Yisroel l’nachala cheilef Avodasam asher heim ovdim es Avodas ohel moed (18:21)
The Torah stresses that the Levites should have no portion or inheritance in the land of Israel. In lieu of a share in the land, Hashem rewarded them with the agricultural tithes that the other Jews were obligated to give to them in exchange for the Divine service that they performed in the Temple.
The Mishnah (Taanis 4:2) teaches that the Levites were divided into 24 groups known as “mishmaros.” Each week, one group would serve on behalf of the others, and they had a 24-week rotation with a new group working each week. Each of the mishmaros was further subdivided such that its members only worked on one day of the week in which their turn fell. If each individual Levite worked only one day every 24 weeks, which comes out to two days annually, why couldn’t they receive a portion in the land of Israel which they could work to support themselves like the other tribes, and ascend to work in the Temple at their designated times?
The Meshech Chochmah answers that this question is predicated on our inability to appreciate the tremendous sanctity and holiness which was required to work in the Beis HaMikdash, the place where Hashem’s Presence continuously rested and was palpable. Serving Him in such a holy place couldn’t be done in the haphazard manner in which many people perform their jobs. The kedusha (holiness) of the Temple left no room for errors or distractions. As such, it required six months of preparation and working on himself for a Levite to reach the level of piety and sanctity necessary for him to serve properly in Hashem’s Presence for 24 hours!
Kein tarimu gam atem terumas Hashem mikol maasroseichem asher tik’chu me’eis B’nei Yisroel un’satem mimenu es terumas Hashem l’Aharon HaKohen (18:28)
The Gemora in Berachos (46a) relates that Rav Abahu once made a festive meal to celebrate Rav Zeira’s recovery from an illness. At the beginning of the meal, Rav Abahu suggested that Rav Zeira recite HaMotzi to exempt the other guests. Rav Zeira responded that it is proper for the host (Rav Abahu) to do so. When the time came to recite Birkas HaMazon, Rav Abahu again attempted to honor Rav Zeira by proposing that he lead its recitation. Rav Zeira again demurred, explaining that the person who said the blessing over the bread should be the one to recite Birkas HaMazon. The Gemora explains that Rav Abahu believed that the guest should lead the recitation of Birkas HaMazon in order to bless the host.
In a letter to Rav Chaim Berlin, the Aderes questioned why the Gemora says that Rav Abahu’s reasoning was based on Rav Zeira’s status as a guest. Shouldn’t it have been based on his status as a Kohen (Yerushalmi Berachos 3:1), as one performs a mitzvah by honoring a Kohen to recite a blessing?
The Gemora in Megillah (7b) recounts that Rabbah and Rav Zeira were eating the festive Purim meal together when Rabbah slaughtered Rav Zeira. Although the Gemora relates that Rabbah prayed and resurrected Rav Zeira, the Aderes suggested that his status as a Kohen ended with his natural death, and there were no longer grounds on which to honor him to say the blessings as a Kohen.
Rav Berlin responded that the Aderes was surely joking with him. The Gemora in Sanhedrin (90b) questions how our verse can teach that terumah should be given to Aharon, who never merited entering the land of Israel where this mitzvah was performed. The Gemora answers that the Torah is hinting to the resurrection of the dead, at which time Aharon will receive terumah. How can the Gemora be understood according to the logic of the Aderes, as Aharon’s status as a Kohen ended when he died a natural death?
In defense of the Aderes, Rav Yaakov Chaim Sofer notes that in his notes on the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos (3:7), the Ramban writes that the anointment received by Aharon and his sons became invalid at the time of their deaths. Upon their resurrection, they will require a new anointment in order to regain their status as Kohanim and serve in the Beis Hamikdash, and by extension to receive terumah, precisely in accordance with the explanation of the Aderes!
the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Which people who have appeared earlier in the Torah were reincarnated as Korach and his assembly? (Rabbeinu Bechaye 16:29)
2) The Ramban (16:5) quotes the opinion of Rabbeinu Chananel, who maintains that the assembly of Korach was comprised of individuals from the tribe of Levi, although the Ramban himself disagrees. As the tribe of Levi was righteous and refused to take part in the sins of the golden calf and the spies, why were they specifically ensnared in the sin of Korach’s rebellion? (Ayeles HaShachar 16:7)
3) Rashi writes (16:7) that Korach was misled by the fact that he saw the righteous Shmuel, who was considered equal to Moshe and Aharon, descended from him, and he assumed that this merit would allow him to be saved. Although Korach erred in his reasoning, why was he punished so harshly for an unintentional mistake? (Maharsha Sanhedrin 110a, Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh Vayikra 8:5, Ayeles HaShachar)
4) The word in the Torah with the largest numerical value appears in Parshas Korach. Which word is it, and what is its significance? (Paneiach Raza)
5) After the leader of each tribe gave a staff with his name written on it to Moshe, Moshe placed them in the Mishkan. The next day, only Aharon’s staff had blossomed, sprouting ripe almonds, thereby proving his legitimacy as Kohen Gadol (17:21-24). What other miracle did Aharon’s staff perform during that time which ensured that the other staffs wouldn’t sprout? (Baal HaTurim Shemos 7:12)
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