by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS KORACH 5769 BS"D
Ch. 16, v. 1: "VaAvirom" - This name connotes that he was haughty (rom) and hardened his heart like lead (eiver), as demonstrated by his not backing off and repenting after Moshe's warning. (Rabbeinu Zecharioh)
Ch. 16, v. 2: "Va'yokumu lifnei Moshe vaanoshim mibnei Yisroel chamishim umosayim" - And they stood up against Moshe and two-hundred and fifty men of the bnei Yisroel - Why do the words "va'yokumu lifnei Moshe" interrupt the list of those who challenged Moshe? Ohr Olom answers that only the earlier group, Korach, Doson, and Avirom stood up in defiance against Moshe. Once others saw this they joined this group, but did not act flagrantly.
Ch. 16, v. 11: "Salinu" - You will cause argument - This is the "kri," the way this word is read, but the written word, "ksiv," is spelled with a Vov rather than a Yud, "salonu," and means "you will argue/complain." The "kri" and the "ksiv" teach us that not only was Moshe reprimanding them for being argumentive, but also for causing others to do so as we well. (Rabbeinu Yoel)
The "ksiv" letter Vov, whose numerical value is six teaches us that Moshe reprimanded them for complaining against six people, Aharon, himself, Elozor, Isomor, Nach'shon, and Eltzofon. (Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel)
Ch. 16, v. 13: "He'elisonu mei'eretz zovas cholov udvash" - You have brought us up from a land that flows milk and honey - Egypt is not known for this sort of blessing. Perhaps they wanted to jab Moshe and complain that he promised them entry into a land that is "zovas cholov udvash," and not only has not brought them there, but even took them out of a land that had this blessing, although this was not true.
Rabbeinu Tovioh says that because Doson and Avirom were wealthy in Egypt they gave it this accolade.
The Torah mentions "cholov udvash" fifteen times. Fourteen times it refers to Eretz Yisroel, and this is the only place these words are used for another land.
Ch. 16, v. 15: "Al teifen el minchosom" - Turn not to their meal offering - Rabbeinu Bachyei says that it is known that the daily "tomid" offering and the communal meal offering (which Korach and his cohorts had a portion) offer a temporary reprieve of punishment. Moshe therefore prayed that Hashem should respond immediately. Rabbeinu Zecharioh adds that if there would be a delay in implementing their punishment, in the interim some people would begin to doubt Moshe's veracity as Hashem's special prophet.
We do find that a guilty person is offered a temporary reprieve. This is the case of a guilty sotoh. The mishnoh Sotoh says that if the woman was guilty of infidelity to her husband, but had merits, the "sotoh waters" would not immediately cause her to swell and die, but would be delayed for a number of months, albeit that some posit that she would slowly deteriorate, "misnavnoh v'holeches." Symbolically, we might say that since the sotoh has drunk the bitter waters, which contain some earth, a material that represents humility, as it is trodden upon, coupled with her merits, she staves off the fatal effects of the bitter waters for a while. Korach and his cohorts exhibited absolutely no humility in their challenging Moshe's authority and appointments. They likewise surely swallowed no earth. Moshe therefore asked Hashem to do the reverse, to have the earth swallow these haughty people. (n.l.)
Ch. 16, v. 15: "Al teifen el minchosom" - Turn not to their meal offering - The Chizkuni understands these words to be aimed only at Doson and Avirom, but not at Korach and the (rest of the) 250 men. He explains that when Doson and Avirom said "lo naa'leh" they meant to say that they would not back off of their claim that Aharon was incorrectly appointed even if Hashem would speak and they would hear that it was Hashem's will that Aharon be the Kohein Godol. Therefore Moshe was so tough with them. however, Korach and his men agreed to a "ketorres" test, and if only Aharon's offering were to be consumed they would back off of their claim about K'hunoh g'doloh.
Ch. 16, v. 15: "V'lo ha'rei'osi es achad meihem" - And I have not treated badly even one of them - There is not the ill will engendered by any of them losing a case that I judged because it never occurred that any of them came in front of me to be judged. (Sforno)
Ch. 18, v. 23: "V'ovad haLevi hu" - And the Levite should do the service he - "Hu" seems to be superfluous. This word teaches us that although in general one can appoint an agent to do something for him, and I might think that the Levite can appoint a Yisroel to do his service, the word "hu" teaches us otherwise. (Ibn Ezra)
This word teaches us that the services that the L'viim are to do are not a free for all, that any Levite at any time may do it. There are organized groups in a rotor system who do it, called "mishmoros." (N'tzi"v)
Based on the N'tzi"v the translation of Targum Onkelos of the word "hu," which is "inun," in the plural, is better understood. Although "hu" indicates just him, it excludes other groups, but we are still left with a group that has a plurality. (n.l.)
Ch. 18, v. 27: "V'chamlei'oh min ha'yekev" - And like the fullness of the wine cistern - Rashi explains that "m'lei'oh" means fully ripened produce. The Rada"k adds that this term is used by wine grapes because other fruits are sometimes harvested even when not quite fully ripened, but grapes used for wine must be totally ripened. The Chizkuni says that "m'lei'oh" refers not to being fully ripened, but rather, that wine, and for that matter oil, where we also find the term "m'lei'oh," only fill their container, but cannot be heaped above the lip.
Ch. 18, v. 32: "V'lo sisu olov cheit baharimcheim" - And you will not bear a sin when you tithe - Rashi comments that if you don't you will, and if you will desecrate you will be put to death. Why does Rashi point out the negative connotation of these two points and not simply make no comment, since the basic words of the verse are well understood? The Mizrochi explains that the simple words of our verse are not informative, as no one would think that if the tithing was done there would be a sin, and if it was not desecrated that there would be death. We must conclude that the intention of this verse is to derive the consequences of not complying.
Minchoh V'luloh asks, "According to Rabbi Meir, who posits that we do not derive from a negative statement its implied reverse, "Michlal lav ee atoh shomei'a hein" (gemara kidushin 61a), what is the message of our verse? He answers that Rabbi Meir only says this in regard to verses dealing with money matters, and not "issur," spiritual prohibitions.
I don't know if the following has veracity, but possibly we might answer that Rabbi Meir's opinion is limited to not deriving a positive from a negative statement, but we may derive a negative from a positive.
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