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Haftarah: Shemuel I 11:14-12:22

JUNE 22-23, 2012 3 TAMUZ 5772


"And he shall not be like Korah and his followers." (Bemidbar 17:5)

Our perashah records the most devastating argument the Jewish people ever had. In order to end it, Hashem performed a miracle that the ground opened up and all of Korah's people died. This should not go to waste. It's important to learn the lesson of this story. Jews can disagree and even compete but it must end there.

On August 14, 2002, there was a major blackout in much of the eastern part of the United States. This created financial loss for many companies. Power was restored to the Klein's kosher ice cream company in Brooklyn (a Chalav Yisrael ice cream company). The power was restored early the morning after the blackout began, and they did not suffer any loss.

Abba Klein's first thoughts, then, were how his main competitor, Mehadrin Dairy (another Chalav Yisrael company), was faring. Upon hearing that Mehadrin's power had not yet been restored, Mr. Klein called the owner and offered him space in his freezers. Mehadrin accepted the generous offer.

Mr. Klein also hooked up special cables to the Mehadrin trucks, which precluded their suffering any loss. What could have been an opportunity for great gain between two rivals was used instead as a great opportunity to sanctify Hashem's name.

Mr. Klein clearly learned the lesson of the perashah. I hope and pray that we all can learn the lesson as well. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"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, "????? - It is enough for you," which is similar to "???????" 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. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"Morning (tomorrow) and Hashem will make known who is His." (Bemidbar 16:5)

The Midrash questions Moshe's choice of the word morning, instead of the more usual, tomorrow. They comment that Moshe told Korah, "Hashem sets boundaries in this world which you cannot undo. As Hashem has separated day from night, so has He separated B'nei Yisrael from the gentile nations. Similarly, He has separated Aharon from His people. When you will be able to reverse the distinction set by Hashem between day and night, then you will also be able to reverse the separation between Aharon and the rest of B'nei Yisrael.

In this vein, referring to the pasuk, "and it was evening and it was morning," Moshe used the word morning rather than tomorrow. The Midrash suggests that the word boker, morning, is an allusion to Korah's inability to alter the Divine order of creation of which Aharon's status as Kohen is a prime example.

We suggest a homiletic rendering of this Midrash. The Midrash views ereb, evening, as a metaphor for the actions of the evil and boker as a symbol of the actions of the righteous. Rav Shlomo Breuer z"l explains this as follows: As night and day follow one another in the realm of nature, so, too, are good and evil daily occurrences in our lives. Day and night sharply contrast each other, but they share the fact that they both transform slowly. Day does not break all at once, and night does not fall instantly. They both reach their climax gradually. Through the vehicle of "ereb," evening in which the light of day gives way to the specter of shadows and ultimate darkness, night slowly descends.

Man's moral development undergoes a similar metamorphosis. Sadik and rasha are stark contrasts, like day and night, but they share a common denominator; their development is also gradual. One does not change spontaneously from being righteous to being wicked - or vice versa. Initially, one who stands on the summit of Torah observance may slowly weaken some of his constraints. The conscientious Shabbat observer gradually allows himself a few dispensations. Eventually he becomes a Shabbat desecrator. Likewise, the dietary and marital laws are not eliminated all at once. One slowly, and often inadvertently, dispenses with his religious restraints.

Had Korah openly proclaimed his detestation of Jewish leadership and flaunted his opposition to Hashem, he would have been immediately dismissed. Consistent with the methods of the wicked, however, he cloaked his malevolence in a mantle of piety and concern for his fellow man. He acted out the part of the perfect "ereb," craftily ensnaring the people and turning them against Moshe and Aharon. How did Moshe respond to this veiled threat? How did he expose this hidden evil, this mixture of light and darkness? Only the amazing brilliant light of Torah truth, the light of "boker," reveals this veiled darkness.

This was Moshe's message to Korah: you may have deceived most of the people, but in the "morning" the brilliance of Torah truth will blaze forth and expose the darkness of your evil for all to "see." (Peninim on the Torah)


A wit once quipped: "I love living. I have some problems with my life, but living is the best thing they've come up with so far."

This statement is cute, but it is not smart. The person who believes as this joker does is accepting a passive approach to life and saying, "Hey, I'd like to do better, but I didn't ask to be born, so I will take whatever I get."

True, life is a challenge, but it is also a gift - a very valuable one. Those who consider life a magnificent present from Hashem, and view it as an opportunity to achieve true happiness in this world and the next, can't just sit back and take life as it comes.

The government protects consumers by requiring food-processing companies to stamp their wares with an expiration date indicating the shelf life of the product. Unfortunately, Hashem also stamps each individual with an expiration date - but he does not allow any of us to see the last day of life inscribed in the "packaging."

When you are bored with life or overwhelmed by its challenges, take a minute to see the gift for what it really is - an opportunity that requires a pro-active approach to yield its positive results. Get up and do what you know you must to achieve your goal - true happiness for eternity. (One Minute With Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)

* * * * *

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

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