Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 16   No. 35

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
Nechama Bracha bas Eliezer z"l

Parshas Korach

Kin'ah Drives a Person Out of the World
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Although Kavod played a significant role in the episode of Korach, it was not Kavod that started the ball rolling but Kin'ah, says R. Bachye.

Korach was jealous of Elitzafan ben Uziel's appointment as Nasi of K'has (as Rashi explains); the two hundred and fifty men (who were mainly firstborn) of the Levi'im, who were chosen to replace them; whilst Dasan, Aviram and On ben Pe'les, of the tribe of Yosef, who replaced that of Re'uven as the tribe that would receive a double portion. And the reason that Korach picked his partners in crime was precisely because they shared a common grouse against Moshe Rabeinu. They, like him, were jealous of those who had replaced them, and they, like him, accused Moshe of making those appointments based on his personal prejudices, and not as Hashem's agent.

Korach's grudge, as we explained, was against Moshe's choice of his younger cousin as prince of K'has (though, as Rashi explains, it did not stop there); The two hundred and fifty men were angry with Moshe for replacing the firstborn, whom G-d had chosen in Egypt, with the Levi'im, which they visualized as an act of favouritism for his own tribe; whereas Dasan, Aviram and On ben Pe'les suspected Moshe of appointing the tribe of Yosef in favour of Reuven, who was the genuine first-born of Ya'akov Avinu, in honour of his favourite Talmid, Yehoshua.


Having attributed Korach's rebellion to Kin'ah, R. Bachye has this to say about the Midah of Kin'ah in general, which the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos describe as one of three that drive a person out of the world: As is well-known he explains, once a person is jealous of something that someone else possesses, he is overcome with worry on how to obtain it. Once he achieves his goal however, he begins to search for Kavod and fame; from there he looks for rulership and the next stage is serving Avodah-Zarah. In the event that he fails to attain the object of his caprices, he becomes downcast and irritable, and his life becomes unbearable, until in the end, he kills either himself (as the Pasuk writes in Iyov "And jealousy is synonymous with the rotting of the bones, or his friend, for jealousy leads to hatred and hatred leads to murder" (and we learn this from the sequence of Pesukim in Devarim [19:11]).


Then he quotes Sh'lomoh ha'Melech, in Koheles (4:4). After praising the hard work that a person puts into acquiring wealth, property, honour and other material acquisitions, not to speak of Teshuvah and good deeds, he concludes how this too is rooted in man's jealousy of his fellow man, and is therefore futile and a vexation of the spirit.

And playing on the words " gam zeh Hevel" the author goes on to explain how Hevel too, stumbled over this sin. He was jealous of his brother Kayin, when the latter brought his Korban to Hashem, and that is what activated him to bring a Korban 'as well'. No matter that he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and sacrifice an animal rather than the inferior flax that his brother brought (which is why his Korban was accepted and Kayin's was not). The fact is that it was based on jealousy, and so it led to hatred, and from hatred to strife over who would inherit their father, ultimately resulting in his own death.


So inherently evil is the Midah of Kin'ah, says R. Bachye, that even the angels were affected by it. As the Medrash explains, it was when they saw Adam and Chavah living blissfully together in Gan Eden that they became jealous of them, and set about causing them to sin, with the aim of impairing Adam's 'garments of seichel' that brought him close to Hashem. It was these 'garments' that Hashem subsequently replaced after the sin.


And so Kin'ah was the catalyst that led Korach to sin and that ultimately drove him out of the world!

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

The Princes

"Leaders of the Congregation, those who were summoned to the meetings, men of renown" (16:2).

This description fits the description of the twelve Princes, and Rabeinu Bachye, citing a Gezeirah-Shavah, writes that the twelve princes were indeed included in the two hundred and fifty men (see also Rashi on "ve'Dasan va'Aviram" on the opening Pasuk in the Parshah).

It is mind-boggling that those unique Tzadikim, who just a few Parshiyos earlier, set the pace at the inauguration of the Mizbei'ach by bringing the magnificent set of inaugural sacrifices, should have all died such a degrading death!

The note in R. Bachye however, queries R. Bachye's reference to the twelve Princes. Neither Nachshon ben Aminadav nor Shlumiel ben Tzurishaday actually died at this point (the former presumably, because it is highly unlikely that one of the greatest Tzadikim of the generation would have been guilty of such a tragic sin, the latter, because, as Chazal have taught us, he was alias "Zimri ben Salu [see Ba'al-ha'Turim, Pinchas 25:14], who died much later at the hand of Pinchas when he sinned with Kozbi bas Tzur).

What the author ought therefore to have said was that ten of the Princes died with Korach. Perhaps, the note suggests, the missing 'Yud' in the word "k'ri'ei mo'ed" hints at the ten Princes, who did not remain faithful to Hashem.


Nefilas Apayim (1)

"And Moshe heard and he fell on his face" (16:4).

Rabeinu Bachye comments that Aharon is not mentioned here. And he attributes this to his deep humility, and to his supreme Midos. Indeed, the footnote adds, Aharon did not say a word throughout the Machlokes. It seems that he conceded that he was inferior to Korach, and that Korach was therefore a more worthy incumbent of the Kehunah Gedolah (which is what the latter was claiming) than he. And so it was Moshe who, in defense of his brother's Kavod, fell on his face.

It may well be, the author suggests, that when Moshe fell on his face here, he was bringing about the downfall of Korach and his congregation, by evoking the Midas ha'Din. Assuming that to be the case, it is from here that R. Eliezer learned the power of Nefilas Apayim, which he used to ultimately cause the demise of Raban Gamliel the Nasi, whose Beis-Din placed him in Cherem, as the Gemara teaches us in Bava Metzi'a (59b).

Bearing in mind that techinah (Tachanun) one does to the Midas ha'Din, it is appropriate to fall on one's left arm.

See also 'Nefilas Apayim' (2), Pasuk 22.


Divine Support

"Let morning dawn, and G-d will make known who is His (regarding the Leviyah) and the one who is holy, and He will bring him close to Him (regarding the Kehunah Gedolah)" 16:5.

This is how Rashi explains the Pasuk.

R. Bachye (following in the footsteps of the Ramban) elaborates - 'You claim', said Moshe to Korach and his adherents, 'that we (Moshe and Aharon) have raised ourselves above Hashem's congregation, and that I am doing all these things (making all the appointments) off my own bat!

Tomorrow morning you will learn the truth, when G-d will let it be known who belongs to Him - whether it is the Levi'im, about whom Hashem declared "and the Levi'im will be Mine!" (Bamidbar 5:14), or whether it is the firstborn (who comprised most of the two hundred and fifty men who joined Korach's ranks), about whom He said in Egypt "Sanctify for Me all the firstborn!" (Sh'mos 13:2) who are still His.

And tomorrow you will learn that the one who is sanctified with the Kedushah of Kohen Gadol is Aharon, about whom it is written "and He designated Aharon to sanctify him, holy of holies" ' (Divrei Hayamim 1 23:13 [and not Korach, about whom no such Pasuk is written]).


Don't Accept their Minchah

"And Moshe was very angry, and he said to Hashem 'Don't turn to their 'Minchah'!" (16:15).

It is well-known, says R. Bachye, that the burned-offering and the flour-offering, even of a Rasha, postpone Divine retribution. That is why Moshe prayed that G-d should ignore their offerings and punish them immediately.


According to Rashi, Moshe was referring to Dasan and Aviram, whose insolent response to his efforts to make peace with them angered him immensely, and the 'minchah' that he was referring to was the Ketores that they were about to bring the following day (though, as the Ramban points out, Dasan and Aviram were not included in the group of Korach's congregation who were scheduled to bring the Ketores).

The author however, queries Rashi. He finds it strange that Moshe should concern himself with Dasan and Aviram, who were minor players in the current proceedings; and what's more, they did not have any particular merits that would stand them in good stead, and that he needed to fear. And besides, it would have made more sense for him to incorporate the entire group of rebels in his prayer?


He therefore concludes that Moshe's Tefilah was directed at the twelve princes, who, as we saw earlier, were part of the two hundred and fifty men. And the Minchah (which can also mean 'a gift') to which he referred was the magnificent gift that they offered to Hashem at the inauguration of the Mizbei'ach, as is recorded at the end of Parshas Naso.

Moshe did not find it necessary to Daven for Hashem to remove His mercy from Korach or his men, since they did not have any merits that might stave off the Divine retribution to begin with. Nor did he Daven for Divine retribution against Dasan and Aviram, since besides the fact that they had no merit and that they had also earned themselves severe retribution, they had already indicated with their own testimony ("lo na'aleh"), that after death they were destined to go down, and not up

It was at the Princes, who had earned such great merit, that Moshe saw fit to direct his Tefilah.


Finally, Rabeinu Bachye, like Rashi, cites Chazal, who explain that the Minchah of which the Torah speaks is the portion of the daily Korbanos, to which strictly speaking, every Jewish person had a portion.


Nefilas Apayim' (2)

"And they fell on their faces, and they said " (16:22).

They fell on their faces in order to Daven, says R. Bachye, and it is from here that we learn Nefilas Apayim during Davenning (see footnote).

He explains how Nefilas Apayim contains three issues: 1. fear of the Shechinah; 2. to demonstrate one's pain and humility; 3. to demonstrate one's feeling of utter helplessness, that on one's own, one is incapable of making a move.

'Fear of the Shechinah' - since covering one's face is a sign of embarrassment and modesty. And it is because when a person Davens, he places the Shechinah before him (as the Pasuk says in Tehilim "I place Hashem before me always", that Chazal instituted Tachanun (where one covers one's face) as an intrinsic part of the Tefilah. It is borne of the fear of G-d before whom one is standing, as the Pasuk writes about Moshe Rabeinu "And Moshe hid his face because he was afraid to gaze at Hashem". Indeed, the Navi Yechezkel (1:14) describes how even the holy Chayos 'darted backwards and forwards (ceaselessly)', in order to avoid gazing upwards and seeing the Shechinah, which rested above their heads.

See also 'Nefilas Apayim' (1), Pasuk 4.

* * *


"And they stood before Moshe men of renown (Anshei shem)" (16:2).

The same words are used in connection with the Dor ha'Mabul. Here, like there, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, they were wise and wealthy. (Both abused their wisdom and their wealth, so) both were destroyed!


"Move away from this congregation, and I will 'consume' them in a moment (ke'roga)" (16:21).

Here too, the same word appears in a Pasuk in Tehilim (73:19) - "How they have become desolate in a moment (ke'roga), they came to an end (in this world), they terminated (in the World to Come) ". The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that this 'Mesorah' supports the opinion that the congregation of Korach lost their portion in both worlds.


"If these men will die like all men and the fate of all men (u'fekudas) is visited on them " (16:29).

The Torah uses a similar word in Ki Sisa (34:6), where the Torah writes "Pokeid avon ovos al bonim" (He visits the sins of the fathers on the children). Indeed, Hashem generally gives a person a chance, he waits even as much as two or three generations before punishing on a large scale. Not so here, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. He informed Korach and his men that G-d was about to punish them immediately!


"But if G-d will create a new creation (b'riy'oh) (16:30)."

Once again, the very same word appears in Chavakuk (1:16) "u'ma'acholo b'ri'oh [though without a 'Yud'] - and his food is healthy".

This, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, supports the Gemara in Sanhedrin, which describes how Korach distributed food to his followers to 'bribe' them into supporting him.


" 'Separate from this congregation and I will destroy them in a moment'. And they fell on their faces" (17:10).

Why, asks the Ba'al ha'Turim, did Moshe and Aharon not Daven, like they did earlier (see 16:22)?

The answer is, he explains, that the Tefilah did not come out fluently, which explains the expression in the following Pasuk "because the fury has gone out from before Hashem".

This conforms with the Mishnah in B'rachos (5:5), where R. Chanina ben Dosa explained that he knew whether a sick person would recover or not, by the degree of fluency of the Tefilah that he prayed on his behalf.

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 414:
Not to Appoint a Judge Who is Not Conversant with Torah Law (cont.)

This Mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times. Whoever contravenes it and appoints a judge who is unlearned, on account of his wealth, his good character-traits, because he is a good friend or out of the high esteem in which one holds his relatives, has negated this Mitzvah, and his retribution will be great. This is because, the full brunt of punishment for all the ensuing false judgements that the judge will pass - albeit for lack of knowledge, will be on his (the one who appointed him) shoulders, for he is held responsible for these errors. It would seem too, that included in this Mitzvah, is that when choosing an officer to serve on any communal post, the community must take great care to choose the person who is best-suited to fill that post, and not to be afraid of any man, to appoint someone who is not worthy. Chazal go so far as to compare someone who appoints a Dayan who is not worthy to one who sets up a Matzeivah (a monument - which is strictly forbidden), as the Torah writes in Devarim (16:22) "And do not set up a Matzeivah". Whereas if it is a place where Talmidei-Chachamim live, then it is as if he had planted an Asheirah (an idol-worship tree), as the Torah writes there (16:21) "Do not plant for yourself an idol-tree of wood besides the Mizbei'ach of Hashem your G-d". Furthermore they said that 'Anyone who appoints a Dayan on account of his wealth, about him the Torah writes in Yisro (20:23) "Do not make with Me gods of silver and gods of gold". In fact, they went still further and ruled that a. one is not permitted to stand up before a judge who paid money in order to be appointed, and b. one does many things in order to belittle him. They said about him that the Talis in which he wraps himself should be in your eyes like the saddle-cloth of a donkey. The early Chachamim tended to 'run away' from appointing judges other than in a place where there is nobody who is superior to them.

* * *

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