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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 16, v. 1: “Va’yikach Korach” – And Korach took – The M.R. says that Korach claimed that if a room was filled with Torah Scrolls it would not need a mezuzah on its doorpost. In 16:3 Korach says, “Ki chol ho’eidoh kulom k’doshim uvsochom Hashem,” the complete congregation is holy and Hashem is within them. We can interpret “uvsochom Hashem” to mean that Korach posited that one need only be a “good Jew” within the confines of his home, but when outside, when in contact with the outside secular world (this was at this point in time only philosophical, as the bnei Yisroel were presently in the desert on their own), one should blend in with his surroundings, a symbolic equivalent of having one’s home filled with Torah Scrolls, but with no external mezuzah. We all know who was in the right. (Iturei Torah)

Ch. 16, v. 1: “V’Own ben Pelles” – And Own the son of Pelles – In verse 24 we no longer find Own ben Pelles mentioned among those who rose up against Moshe. The gemara Sanhedrin 110a explains that his wife dissuaded him from continuing in this folly. He told her that he was totally committed to Korach’s cause and the others were coming to fetch him. She sat just inside the doorway of her tent and uncovered her hair and combed it. When they came for Own they saw her and quickly retreated, and Own simply stayed out of harm’s way from this point and onwards. Why did she choose to uncover her hair rather than, let us say, her elbow or the like? In Shmos 19:6 Hashem tells Moshe to convey to the bnei Yisroel that upon accepting the Torah they would all be on the level of Kohanim. The Baal Haturim explains that this means Kohanim G’dolim, and had they not sinned with the golden calf they would have always remained on this level. This would have been a rectification of the sin of primary man. The gemara Eiruvin 100b says that since Chavoh caused Odom to sin and in turn this brought death to mankind, women cover themselves, as do mourners. Rashi explains that this means that married women cover their hair.

Own’s wife calculated that if she were to uncover her hair and Korach would see this, he should not step away, as he claimed that everyone heard the message of Hashem at Har Sinai. All were on the level of Aharon, a Kohen Godol. This in turn means that he posited that the original sin remained expunged. If so, married women no longer have to cover their hair. His retreating from this contradicted his position. (Beis Yaakov)

Ch. 16, v. 15: “V’lo ha’rei’osi es echod mei’hem” – And I have not wronged one of them – Why not simply say, “V’lo ha’rei’osi LOHEM?” Two main instigators in this incident were Doson and Avirom. They were fighting between themselves and one raised up his fist, ready to strike the other. Moshe intervened and said, “Rosho lomoh sa’keh l’rei’echo” (Shmos 2:13). It is well understood why he, the assailant, would bear a grudge against Moshe, but why would the victim likewise bear a grudge? To the contrary, Moshe saved him! This is the intention of Moshe with these words. “I have not wronged ONE of them,” of the two people in that argument. (Chasam Sofer)

Ch. 16, v. 28: “Ki lo milibi” – That it was not from my heart – Moshe had already said that it was Hashem and not he who appointed Aharon as Kohein Godol, so what is he adding with “ki lo milibi?” When Hashem appeared to Moshe at the burning bush a back and forth ensued for seven days, Hashem telling Moshe to be His agent to lead the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt, and Moshe demurring. Hashem told Moshe that the position of Kohein Godol was to have been his, but because of his stubborn reluctance it would be instead given to his brother Aharon (see Rashi on Shmos 4:14). Moshe not only told Korach that all appointments were Heavenly ordained, and there was not a trace of nepotism, but the complaint that Aharon was given the position of Kohein Godol by Moshe’s choice, was also against Moshe’s will, “ki lo milibi,” as he really wanted that coveted position for himself. This insight is bolstered by the words of Targum Yonoson ben Uziel, who says, “a’rei lo mei’ro’usi,” this was not like my will. (Sheima Shlomo)

Ch. 18, v. 15: “Ach podo sifdeh es b’chor ho’odom v’es b’chor habheimoh hatmei’oh tifdeh” – But you shall surely redeem the firstborn person and the firstborn of a non-kosher species of animal shall you redeem – Why by redeeming a person does the Torah express the redeeming in duplicate, while by the animal it is expressed only once? Sh.O. Y.D. 305:7 rules that one may redeem his b’chor son for 5 shkolim, but may split this to numerous Kohanim, and also he may redeem on different days. By the redemption of a firstborn donkey, the redemption is done with a live sheep. This is not divisible and may only be given to one Kohein (Sh.O. Y.D. 321:5). Although if one has no sheep he may use money, our Rabbis instituted that it be given to one Kohein only, as the original redeeming item, the sheep, was not divisible. Hence, by the redemption of a child the Torah repeats the word form of redemption, to allude to redemption being done in parts, while by the redemption of the donkey it is mentioned only once, as its redemption can only be done in one go. (Hadrash V’ho’iyun)

Another answer: the gemara B’choros 51a says that if one set aside money for his son’s redemption and it is lost he must replace it, even numerous times, hence the repetition. By the redemption of a donkey, the gemara B’choros 12b says that if one set aside a sheep for the redemption and it dies he is not required to replace it, hence only one expression of redemption. (Luach Erez)

Ch. 18, v. 19: “Kole trumos hakodoshim …… bris melach olom hee” – All tithes of the sanctified objects …… it is an eternal salt covenant – There are numerous items people must give to the Kohanim. They might easily be reluctant to comply because they believe that they are diminishing their holdings. This is why our verse calls the tithing a salt covenant. Just as salt applied to many foods preserves them albeit the items shrink a bit, tithing preserves one’s possessions even though on the surface of things it seems that the holdings shrink a bit.

The gemara Kesubos 66b relates that Rabbi Yochonon ben Zakai saw a girl collecting barley kernels from among dung. He asked her who she was and she responded that she was the daughter of Nakdimon ben Gurion. He was aghast, as Nakdimon was one of the wealthiest people who lived in Yerusholayim (Gitin 56a). When asked what happened to her father’s wealth she responded, “Melach momon cho’seir,” to salt away and preserve one’s wealth, he should reduce it by giving some to charity. (Shaar Bas Rabim)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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