CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS KORACH 5768 - BS"D
1) Ch. 16, v. 2: "Va'yokumu lifnei Moshe va'anoshim mibnei Yisroel" - We know that Korach and his colleagues behaved with great disrespect toward Moshe. If so, why did they stand up, a sign of respect, in front of Moshe?
2) Ch. 16, v. 3: "Umadua tisnasu al k'hal Hashem" - The M.R. 18:3 says that Korach was an outstandingly wise man and of the family of K'hos whose charge it was to carry the Holy Ark, as stated in Bmidbar 7:9, and in spite of this he had the temerity to argue about the validity of Moshe's leadership. It is well understood that his being very wise shows that he should have known better, but how does his being a Holy Ark bearer add to it?
3) Ch. 16, v. 8: "Va'yomer Moshe el Korach shimu noh bnei Levi" - Was Moshe addressing himself to Korach or the bnei Levi?
4) Ch. 16, v. 15: "Al teifen el minchosom" - Do not accept their offering - Which offering?
5) Ch. 18, v. 15: "Podo'h sifdeh eis b'chor ho'odom v'eis b'chor habheimoh hatmei'oh tifdeh" - Redeem the first-born person and the first-born non-kosher animal you shall redeem - Why does the verse not incorporate both man and animal in one phrase and simply say, "redeem the first-born of man and of the non-kosher animal?" As well, once the Torah does mention them separately, why does redemption precede the mention of man while the non-kosher animal is mentioned ahead of the act of redemption?
The gemara Kidushin 33b says that one is required to stand up as a sign of honour when seeing his greatest mentor for a distance of his being in sight. For another Torah scholar it is sufficient to stand up when the scholar is within a four cubit distance. Rabbi Moshe Mizrachi says that our verse tells us that the group of people who came in front of Moshe belittled him by only standing up when immediately in front of him, "LIFNEI Moshe," and not from the required "once he is within view" distance. The Nachal K'dumim adds that this might also be indicated by the grouping of the words "va'yokumu lifnei Moshe va'anoshim mibnei Yisroel," meaning that they gave equal honour to Moshe as others of the bnei Yisroel in their parameters of rising for them.
1) The gemara Sotoh 35b says that those who carried the Holy Ark expended no effort and were actually carried by the Holy Ark. One who not only knows about this phenomenon, but also actually experienced it should take the lesson that it is not one's efforts but the will of Hashem that brings things to fruition. If so, Korach, a carrier of the Holy Ark, should have learned from this to not question Moshe's appointments, let alone claiming that Moshe was guilty of nepotism. (Rabbi Volf of Strikov in Zeir Zohov)
2) Rabbi Shlomo Algazi explains the words in verses 9 and 10, "Ham'at mi'kem ki hivdil ...... laavode es avodas Mishkan Hashem, ...... uvikashtem gam K'hunoh" to mean that the reason that the tribe of Levi was the smallest in number is because they were given the task of carrying the holy vessels and if done improperly they would die (as per Rashi on Breishis 29:34 based on M.R. Bmidbar 5:1), and this is the reason for "ham'at mi'kem."
If so, Moshe reasoned that they surely shouldn't dare undertake the even more daunting tasks of the Kohanim, which might bring about the death of even more people. The T'chei'les Mordechai says that with this interpretation it is simple to understand the point made by saying that Korach was one of the carriers of the Holy Ark. Since he knew that there were dire consequences for those who were not careful with its proper portage, he should have surely understood that he should not look for an even higher position.
1) Rashi (Tanchuma #6) explains that Moshe began his conversation with Korach, and upon making no inroads he feared that the rest of the tribe of Levi would be negatively influenced. He then spoke to the bnei Levi.
2) Rabbi Chaim of Tchernovitz in B'eir Mayim Chaim explains that when someone tries to persuade his friend and his friend counters his claims with a ridiculous rebuttal, he will say to those standing around, "Hear the ludicrous words he has said." So too, upon hearing the ridiculous claim of Korach, Moshe said to the bnei Levi who were listening to their dialogue, "Hear the foolish words of Korach."
1) Rashi says that Moshe prayed that the "minchoh" offering they would bring the next morning should not be accepted.
2) Alternatively, he says that their portion in the communal daily "tomid" offering not be consumed.
3) Ramban says that they wanted to become Kohanim, so Moshe prayed that any offering that they would service as Kohanim should not be accepted.
4) Sforno says that Moshe prayed that even if they offer a sacrifice as an atonement for attacking Moshe it should not be accepted, because Moshe said that he did not forgive their sin of embarrassing him. The gemara Yoma 85b says that when one sins against his fellow man, even if he repents to Hashem, the sin is not cleansed until he receives forgiveness from the person he wronged.
Two differences between the redemption of a man and of an animal are that if one sets aside the required five "slo'im" for a man and they go missing, the money must be replaced and given to the Kohein. If the money set aside for redeeming the first-born donkey goes missing it need not be replaced. Also, a person must be redeemed, while the animal need not be redeemed. Given these differences, the Torah does not want to combine the redemption of the two. As well, since the redemption of man is much more binding, as per the two halochos cited, redemption is mentioned before man to stress the importance of this act, while it is mentioned after the animal that is to be redeemed to show that its redemption is not as strict. (Haksav V'hakaboloh)
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