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Haftarah: Shemuel I 11:14-12:22

JULY 8-9, 2016 3 TAMUZ 5776


"Korah, the son of Yishar, the son of Kehat, the son of Levi, separated himself." (Bemidbar 16:1)

Our perashah begins with the rebellion of Korah. It says in Pirke Abot: "Any dispute that is for the sake of Heaven will have a constructive outcome, but one that is not for the sake of Heaven will not have a constructive outcome. What sort of dispute was for the sake of Heaven? The dispute between Hillel and Shamai. And which was not for the sake of Heaven? The dispute of Korah and his entire company." (Abot 5:20).

We need to clarify this statement of the Sages. We are to endorse a good argument and avoid a bad one. The good one was obvious. We see how great Hillel and Shamai were. Also the bad one of Korah was also obvious because, after all, the ground opened up and swallowed all of them. But all this is after the fact. What are the early signs before the disaster? How can we tell? The litigants will always say they are for the sake of Heaven!

In the sefer Igra Dekalah, the author writes that the argument of Korah and his men had the appearance of being for the sake of Heaven, and their intent was to serve as Kohanim. However it is the strategy of the yeser hara to fool the person to do sins and convince the person that he is doing misvot. But someone who is smart can see the workings of the yeser hara. What is the sign for this?

If a person has a great desire for other misvot, and if the other misvot excite him, if the person loves to perform acts that are definite misvot like sisit, tefillin and studying Torah, then this is a sign that the current argument is also a misvah. But if the person is usually not excited about other definite misvot, but he is like Korah and his men who degraded misvot like mezuzah and sisit, that is a sign that the current argument is not a misvah, but only something that looks like a misvah. The argument is the strategy of the yeser hara to cause him to sin.

Generally speaking, a good fight is one that brings honor to Hashem. But if the person is so concerned about the honor of Hashem, why is he not upholding the other misvot which truly bring honor to Hashem?

Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"Speak to the nation saying: Get yourselves up from about the Mishkan of Korah." (Bemidbar 16:24)

The episode of the rebellion of Korah and his men is shocking, but at the same time full of lessons for our own day and age. Korah rebelled against Moshe and Aharon which led to a most dramatic end. The ground opened up and swallowed all of them alive! Why the drama? Why the harsh end? The answer could be found in the pasuk quoted above.

Hashem tells Moshe to tell the people to separate from the "mishkan" of Korah. Of course, the word mishkan can be interpreted to mean the dwelling place of Korah. However, Rabbi Mordechai Gifter says that it has a very profound implication which perhaps tells the whole story. A mishkan is a temple. The ideas that Korah had were not just something he spoke about in the privacy of his home. He spoke about the necessity to rebel and negate the authority of Moshe to everyone. His tent became the "Temple of Korah," the source of a new movement, and a new religion. This aspect of Korah's ideas was most dangerous and struck at the heart of our people and their devotion to Hashem. This had to end in a way that all would agree that Hashem Himself intervened to establish the truth of the mission of Moshe.

Today we are not likely to see the ground open up. However, there are movements just as dangerous and destructive to our people as the "Temple of Korah." May Hashem shine a great light of wisdom on all of our people to return to the true Torah way of life, Amen. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

What You Can Chew

There are many things about myself that I would like to change for the better. Organizing my work schedule for greater efficiency, spending more time with my family, devoting additional time to hesed, praying a little better, controlling my speech, smiling more often, and developing more patience would certainly be a good beginning for a master self-improvement list. The reason I don't get to do any of these things is that I want so much to do them that I get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the job and throw in the towel even before I begin.

With most personality or lifestyle improvements, the task is very large and very difficult. Our Rabbis suggest that resolutions regarding self-improvement should be made. The trick to making them successful, however, is to make sure not to bite off more than you can chew.

A successful plan begins with an achievable goal. If you dream of running a twenty-six-mile marathon, the training program begins with a plan to run a limited, achievable distance for a limited, do-able time period - say, five miles three times a week for a month. Once the month is up, you can increase the mileage to a number commensurate with your newly developed endurance. Again, it should be for an achievable distance and for a limited time frame. Eventually, the twenty-six miles becomes an achievable goal.

When you get frustrated by one of your shortcomings, don't let it get you down. You can beat it. Just resolve to change a little. Limit your resolution to a short time period, and start your personality improvement program immediately. Bite off only what you can chew, and not only will your "meal" be satisfying, but you will also eventually finish your plate. It takes the discipline of a dieter, but it is the secret to spiritual success. (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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