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June 19, 1999 5 Tamuz 5759

Pop Quiz: What did Aharon use to stop the plague that struck after Korah's rebellion?

by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And On, the son of Pelet" (Bemidbar 16:1)

Our perashah records an incident that has very real application today. Korah mounts a rebellion against Moshe that drew in many people and caused many deaths. The first phrase of our perashah lists the main players. On, the son of Pelet, was listed, but his name doesn't come up again in the narration. The Talmud tells us that his wife saved him.

When he came home that fateful day he told her that he was fighting this rebellion and he was on the side of Korah. She wisely told him that he would gain nothing, because whoever would win, Moshe or Korah, that person would be the leader, which would leave him the way he was before.

Why take a chance and fight Moshe? She gave him wine, put him to sleep, and uncovered her hair inside of her home, but viewable from the door.

When they came to call for her husband, they saw her and had to stay away in order not to view her. All of Korah's followers died, while her husband lived. It is truly amazing when one considers these rebels.

They were righteous and they thought that they had Hashem on their side.

There are so many arguments nowadays, over so many issues. Problems exist within families, and in society in general. One can hardly say that these arguments are for the sake of Heaven. Arguments with lofty motives are rare, even though many think they are totally justified.

Husbands and wives who constantly argue with each other, believing that Heaven is on their side, family members who are not invited to the happy occasions of other family members, do not always try to sort out their differences, but instead perpetuate the argument. Parents often take the side of one child against the other, or even sometimes against a teacher, without even examining the circumstances objectively. The Torah in our perashah forbids the perpetuation of arguments!

Certain people are addicted to controversy. On, the son of Pelet, was not. He heard the reasoning of a calm voice and wisely allowed his wife to save his life. Shabbat Shalom.

by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"It's enough for you, sons of Levi." (Bemidbar 16:7)

When Korah, Datan and Abiram came to Moshe and questioned his authority, they also expressed their wishes to become like the Kohanim, and serve G-d in a closer way. Moshe tried to diffuse the issue by saying that they already have a special status by being Leviim (Levites), so why ask for more? Ultimately, this became a major rebellion, and the only way it could be squashed is by an open miracle of the earth swallowing up Korah and his followers. This was Divine proof that Moshe was correct in his decision.

However, the Midrash tells us that forty years later, when Moshe begged and pleaded with Hashem to try to enter Israel, Hashem refused him with the same words that Moshe used to Korah, "Rab lach - It is enough for you," which is similar to "Rab lachem." Hashem was saying to him, "Moshe, it is enough for you to be the leader here. You don't have to go to Israel." The reason these same words were used was that Moshe was being shown that it is incorrect to tell someone not to strive for a greater position in spiritual matters. Although Korah used the wrong methods and ultimately paid with his life, he still wanted an opportunity to get closer to Hashem, and Moshe seemed to be telling him, "It's enough. You don't need more."

We learn from here an important lesson. If we see someone getting close to Hashem more than we are able to handle for ourselves, we should never hold him back. Sometimes we see people learning more Torah than we do, or praying Amidah for a longer time. Even if we cannot be like them, we should not discourage them. We should understand that everyone has to be comfortable on his own level and ideally, we should be happy that Hashem is being served in a better way. Shabbat Shalom.


"And Korah took" (Bemidbar 16:1)

The Targum Onkelos interprets Korah's "taking" as "and Korah separated (himself)". The Sefat Emet applies this concept in the following manner.

Hazal teach that one must always strive to attain the standard established by his ancestors. He must always ask himself, "When will my actions reach those of my ancestors?" One who is consistent in this self-expectation demonstrates the motivation which is so essential for continued spiritual development.

The Sefat Emet cites Rabbi Simcha Bunim who states that the behavior of a Jew must be in consonance with that of the Jews throughout the ages.

When one lives a traditional Jewish life, he thereby becomes a part of the continuum of Jewish life. He in turn becomes linked to the Patriarchs and their remarkable way of life. Reciprocally, this relationship serves as an everlasting merit in the individual's behalf.

Korah's tragedy emerged when he "separated himself" from the chain of tradition. His attempt to develop a lifestyle independent of Torah mandate was his first break in the chain of tradition. By severing the chain of tradition, he severed his relationship with Klal Yisrael and consequently sealed his own tragic destiny. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop quiz: Ketoret (incense)..

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