Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON PARSHAS KORACH 5773 - BS"D

1) Ch. 16, v. 2: "Va'yokumu lifnei Moshe" - And they stood up before Moshe - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says, "V'komu v'chutzpa," and they stood up with audacity. How is this indicated in the verse?

2) Ch. 16, v. 12: "Va'yishlach Moshe likro l'Doson v'laAvirom" - And Moshe sent to call for Doson and Avirom - Who were greater rebels against Moshe, Korach or Doson and Avirom?

3) Ch. 16, v. 14: "Af lo el eretz zovas cholov udvash heviosonu vati'ten lonu nachalas so'deh vocho'rem" - Also not to a land that flows of milk and honey have you brought us and you have (also not) given us an inheritance of field and vineyard - Note the words in parentheses in the translation. Rashi says that LO in the beginning of our verse refers not only to the immediate words following, but also to "vati'ten " Where are there three more places in our parsha where we find this phenomenon, albeit they are not as straight forward and obvious as in our verse?

4) Ch. 16, v. 15: "Va'yichar l'Moshe m'ode" - And it bothered Moshe exceedingly - Rashi comments that "va'yichar" means that he was greatly pained. Why doesn't Rashi translate this word as "and he was angered," as is the normal interpretation?

5) Ch. 17, v. 6: "Va'yilonu al Moshe v'al Aharon leimore a'tem hami'tem es am Hashem" - And they complained against Moshe and Aharon to say you have caused the death of Hashem's nation - Here we have a large group of people saying that Moshe and Aharon killed "am Hashem." Notwithstanding their great disappointment that so many people died, how could they have the extreme audacity to tell Moshe and Aharon in their faces that they are killers?

ANSWERS:

#1

Targum Yonoson ben Uziel understood the word "lifnei" to not mean the common "in front of," but rather "ahead of." They knew Moshe was coming and it is incumbent to stand up in his honour. They therefore stood up earlier so they would not have to stand up at the time of his appearance. This is surely "standing up with audacity." (Toras Mahari"Tzror Hamor Dushinsky)

#2

Sometimes one who is looking for some perceived gain for himself is truly guilty, but with an excuse. After all, he thinks that he might gain something. Korach's wanting K'hunoh G'doloh was an attempt at an exalted position. Doson and Avirom had no such aspirations (According to some opinions those of the tribe of Reuvein who rebelled against Moshe wanted the first-born tribe, Reuvein, to be the Kohanim.) They are arguably worse than Korach. They were greater instigators of the masses. In T'hilim 106:16, where the uprising against Moshe is related, Doson and the congregation of Avirom are mentioned, and Korach is nowhere in sight. This is also a strong indication that they were more guilty than even Korach, although some say that Korach is not mentioned out of respect for his sons who repented.

#3

1) In 16:26 we find a warning to turn away from the tents of the evil people and another warning to not touch any of their possessions "lest you will come to an end through their sins." Ibn Ezra explains that "lest " applies not just to the immediate preceding warning to not touch their possessions, but also to not heeding the warning to turn away.

2) In 17:5 the verse says "V'lo yi'h'yeh ch'Korach v'chaadoso kaasher di'ber Hashem b'yad Moshe lo." The last words of this verse are quite enigmatic. Rashi first explains that these words mean that Hashem has spoken LO, regarding Aharon, to Moshe, that he and his sons are the rightful Kohanim. Alternatively, Rashi explains that one who contests the rightful Kohein family will be struck with leprosy, with LO referring to Korach. Either of these explanations leaves us with a verse that has choppy syntax.

The Chasam Sofer asks, "How can one be warned to not act like Korach did towards Moshe? After all, Moshe was appointed the leader and it was acknowledged by all when they heard the voice of Hashem say that Moshe should ascend the mountain." Any other argument cannot have this totally unanimous component to it. He answers that we must understand the verse differently. In general, when one argues with another, he will bring a proof from the Torah itself or a Rabbinic explanation of the Torah, and be convinced that the Torah clearly sides with him. Read our verse as follows: "And one shall not be like Korach and his group, and also not, again with the words "v'lo yi'h'yeh" referring to the next phrase, "kaasher di'ber Hashem b'yad Moshe LO," as if Hashem has spoken through Moshe (in His Torah) LO, specifically to HIS position. Thus we have "v'lo yi'h'yeh" refer not only to the immediately following words, but also to the next phrase.

3) In 18:20 the verse says "b'artzom lo sinchol v'cheilek lo yi'h'yeh l'cho b'sochom." This seems like doubletalk. Rashi (Sifri) says that "v'cheilek lo yi'h'yeh l'cho b'sochom" adds that even in the spoils of war there is no portion for the Kohanim. The obvious problem is that in parshas Matos we see that a portion of the spoils was given to Elozor haKohein (31:29). Sifsei Chachomim answers that the prohibition of giving spoils of war to Kohanim is limited to Eretz Yisroel, just as the verse predicates the prohibition of their having a land inheritance "b'artzom," so too, these words apply to "v'cheilek lo yi'h'yeh l'cho." Thus we once again have an expression not only apply to the immediate following phrase, but also to the next one as well. Note that the question of Kohanim (and L'viim) having a portion in lands conquered outside Eretz Yisroel is in disagreement (see gemara B.B. 56, M.R. on our parsha, and Mishneh L'melech at the end of hilchos shmitoh v'yoveil). This will have great relevance when the three lands Keini, Knizi, and Kadmoni will be incorporated into Eretz Yisroel with the coming of Moshiach bb"a.

There seems to be a way to understand our original verse without having "af lo" refer to the second phrase "va'ti'ten lonu." Sforno says that the verse is saying not only have you taken us out of Egypt, a land that flows of milk and honey, but you haven't even brought us into a land where we may have fields and vineyards, and to add insult to injury, you have commanded us in the laws of tithing from fields and vineyards, as if we would own them. With a slight variation on the Sforno's words we can say that "va'ti'ten lonu" means you have given us the burden of studying the mitzvos of the field and vineyard, but not the field and vineyard themselves, a cynical barb.

#4

Imrei Shefer answers that the gemara Eiruvin 65a says that when Rabbi Chanina was angry he would not pray. We find that Moshe immediately prayed to Hashem to not turn to their offering. If he was angry he should have waited until the anger subsided before praying to Hashem. This forced Rashi to depart from the normal translation and say that it means that he was very hurt.

Alternatively, we might answer that the comprehensive list of the times that Moshe was angered, comments that when he came to anger he came to make a mistake in each instance, "Kivon shebo lichlal kaas bo lichlal to'ose." Since our verse is not included, and indeed we find nowhere that he made a mistake in how he acted here, we must assume that he did not become angry. (Nirreh li)

#5

The word "leimore" seems superfluous, as the complaint was not something that they asked to be communicated further. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that they did not literally say these words, but rather they intimated them. All the "eidoh" complained in a manner that INDICATING, "leimore," meaning to say, that they held Moshe and Aharon responsible for the death of so many people.


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