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Haftarah: Shemuel I 11:14-12:22

JUNE 20-21, 2014 23 SIVAN 5774

Rosh Hodesh Tamuz will be celebrated on Shabbat & Sunday, June 28 & 29.


"And Korah separated himself." (Bemidbar 16:1)

In Parashat Korah, we are told of the rebellion of Korah against Moshe and his eventual downfall. His argument against Moshe and Aharon stemmed from jealousy. He was envious of Elitzafan ben Uziel, who was appointed by Moshe to be the Nasi of the family of Kehat.

Rabbi Y. Spero explains that jealousy is poison. When people become consumed with a desire to have more because someone else has more, they stop thinking clearly. They no longer live their own lives; they live the lives of the people of whom they are jealous.

The Hida writes that the letters of the word קנאה, jealousy, stand for Kayin, Nahash, Ofeh, and Haman. Kayin was jealous of his brother Hebel. Nahash, the snake, was jealous of Adam because of Havah his wife. Ofeh is the baker of Pharaoh. He was jealous of the cup-bearer who was going to be elevated. In turn he told his dream to Yosef, expecting a favorable interpretation, but he was killed. Haman was jealous of Mordechai and he was hanged.

What is the antidote to jealousy? We must work on being happy for others. It is helpful to think, "I am so happy that he is making a nice living, living in a nice home, driving a nice car, having good shiduchim for his children, having joy and being successful."

Rav Moshe of Korbin had a student who complained that the store next door to him was full of customers. But, in his store he had few customers and he was not making enough money. Because of that he was very jealous. The Rabbi promised he would be successful if every time he sees customers going into the other store, he thinks to himself, "Thank G-d he makes a good living." He warned him that at first it will feel like lip service, but after a number of times he will start feeling genuine happiness for his neighbor's success. Sure enough, that is what happened.

It turns out that being happy for others is a good source of being happy ourselves. 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, "lk cr - It is enough for you," which is similar to "ofk cr/" 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


"And Korah took." (Bemidbar 16:1)

What incited Korah to challenge Moshe and Aharon? Indeed, the Rabbis characterize his behavior as an act of sheer stupidity. They say that he had a vision of his future descendants, among whom was Shemuel HaNabi. This was the source of his downfall. He assumed that if such virtuous scholars would descend from him, then he himself must be intrinsically virtuous. The Rabbis state that his mistake stemmed from his lack of awareness that his sons had repented during the last few moments. What lessons can we learn from Korah's error?

Harav Baruch Ezrachi cites the Midrash that tells the story of a man who was observing two birds arguing with each other. Their quarrel became so heated that one bird struck its antagonist and killed it. As soon as the first bird realized what he had done, he went searching for a special leaf that was known to have unique powers. He immediately placed this leaf beneath the dead bird's beak and resuscitated it. The man who was watching the entire spectacle took the leaf and set out to save the world. He came to the gates of a city and noticed a dead lion lying across the road. Quickly, he took the wonderful leaf and placed it by the lion's nostrils. Suddenly, the lion came alive and ate the man that had saved him.

Imagine the tragedy of this man. He was privy to a wondrous tool, a unique gift. He used it inappropriately, however, and he was himself destroyed. A man can have tremendous potential, and he can have the capacity to see into the future. Yet, he can make one little mistake, not using this gift astutely. In this way, the gift itself can cause his downfall. So too did Korah have the ability to see into the future. What did he do when he saw his impressive genealogy, when he noted the great sadikim that descended from him? Instead of utilizing this prophecy as a catalyst for repentance, he used it as support for impugning the leadership of Moshe Rabenu.

How often are we faced with similar situations? Hashem grants us a gift: a child with remarkable potential, financial wherewithal with which we can sustain our families and many others, or physical or spiritual attributes which can be used for our own spiritual/moral improvement. Do we always seize the opportunity and use it for the right purpose, Hashem's intended purpose? Or, rather do we selfishly manipulate our children to satisfy our own personal needs, use our wealth to attain power and influence over others, or use Hashem's gift to us as a means of self-aggrandizement? So many lessons can be gleaned from Korah's downfall. If we take the opportunity to reflect upon them, we might become better, happier and more satisfied people. (Peninim on the Torah)


"Don't worry, you won't fall! Look, I'm holding the back of your seat!"

The little boy was riding his bicycle across the school's empty parking lot, his father running alongside him. Too frightened to turn around to check the truth of his dad's statement, the boy still did not feel confident. It took a few more tries and a few more minutes before the child concluded that since he had not fallen, it must be due to the steadying hand of his breathless parent. But then he heard his father's shouts from behind. "Great! Keep on pedaling! You didn't even realize that I let go of your seat ten yards back! Pedal! Keep on pedaling!"

This is a scene often repeated in the annals of child rearing. Teaching a son or daughter how to ride, swim, hit a baseball, or learn any other skill offers an opportunity for parent-child bonding, an experience which is further rewarded by the parent's feeling of satisfaction when the talent is mastered by the child.

It is rare, however, that we as adults feel the hand of our Heavenly Father holding the "seat of our bicycle" as we attempt to ride through life without losing our balance. Whether we're making money, succeeding at sports, mastering mind games such as chess or backgammon, or excelling at any other pursuit, we love to take full credit for our successes, and rarely take responsibility for our failures. Success in executing a plan can inflate our egos and give us the feeling that we are doing "it" ourselves.

When your ego starts to get the best of you, look back to see the hand of your Heavenly Father keeping your bicycle balanced. That one glance towards the true cause for your success will make it much easier for you to accept your failures as well, and will build a bond between you and your "Daddy" that yields success in all that you do.(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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