CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS KORACH 5767 - BS"D
1) Ch. 16, v. 1: "Ben Yitzhor ben K'hos ben Levi" - Rashi (gemara Sanhedrin 109b, Tanchuma #4) says that Yaakov prayed for mercy that his name should not be mentioned with Korach at the time of his uprising against Moshe and Aharon. Indeed, this is why our verse stops with Levi when mentioning the ancestors of Korach, while in Divrei Ha'yomim 1:6:23, where it lists the generations of the bnei Yisroel, Yaakov is mentioned an ancestor of Korach.
This is most difficult to understand. Once Levi is mentioned, absolutely everyone knows on his own that Yaakov is the father of Levi, so what is gained by overtly leaving out Yaakov's name?
2) Ch. 16, v. 15: "Lo chamore ECHOD meihem nososi" - does this mean "I did not take even one donkey from them," or "I did not take a donkey from even one of them"?
3) Ch. 17, v. 2: "Emor el Elozor ben Aharon haKohein" - Why was Elozor charged with collecting the pans of burned incense from among the 250 people who died by fire, rather than Aharon?
4) Ch. 17, v. 3: "Tzipuy lamizbei'ach" - Cladding for the altar - Rashi comments that although the verse does not specify for which altar the pans were to be used as cladding, the intention is for the copper altar. How does Rashi know this? Perhaps they are to be used to cover the golden altar.
5) Ch. 17, v. 24: "Va'yikchu ish ma'teihu" - Once the heads of the tribes saw a Divine sign that they were not to be elevated beyond their positions, why did they take the staffs back?
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin in Oznayim laTorah answers that the intention of Rashi is that Yaakov's name being mentioned means that Korach would incorporate Yaakov in his campaign to unseat Moshe and Aharon. Korach would claim that there was a precedent for his actions. Just as Yaakov was born after Eisov, and wrested the privileges of the first-born and priesthood from the hands of his older brother Eisov, so too, he had the right to do the same with Moshe. Had he used this claim he would likely have convinced many more people to join his camp. It was to avoid this scenario that Yaakov prayed that his name not be mentioned, i.e. that Korach not avail himself of this claim.
Rashi translates this as: I did not make use of a donkey of even ONE PERSON. Rashbam translates: I did not even make use of ONE DONKEY of theirs.
Yalkut Shimoni remez #750 answers that this would have been much too painful a task for Aharon, since he had already suffered the death of his two oldest sons by fire when they also sacrifices unauthorized incense.
The Y.Sh. goes on to say that Aharon was so afraid of improperly sacrificing the incense, that when the plague of death began (17:11), and Moshe told Aharon to quickly take a pan, light incense in it, and stand among the stricken people to stop the plague, Aharon said that this was a deviation from the normal procedure of only lighting the incense on the inner golden altar. He said that he feared he would be struck dead by Hashem, but nonetheless, would carry out Moshe's request. This is why the verse stresses "Va'yikach Aharon kaasher di'beir Moshe" in verse 12.
The Mizrochi answers that it is illogical to use copper as a coating for gold. The Imrei Shefer answers that since verse 5 tells us that this is to serve as a remembrance to not stage an uprising against the leadership, it would only be so if used on the outer altar, which is visible to all, and not on the inner altar, which is not visible to the public.
1) The Sforno answers that according to the opinion that the staffs were given by the representatives of each tribe to Moshe this is understandable. Each person cut a stick off a larger branch of wood and gave it to Moshe. Upon their sticks not sprouting they took them back simply to see if they were the original sticks they gave. They saw if the hewn edges matched the area of the large branch from which it was cut. In other words, they did not trust Moshe.
2) Another explanation is offered by Rabbi Moshe Dovid, the Holy Admor of Tchortkov. They fully accepted that they were wrong once they saw this miraculous celestial sign. They were truly modest people and wanted to make sure that they remained with this lesson, so they took their staffs back to place in a prominent location as a constant visual reminder that Moshe was right.
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