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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah

For parents to give over to the children at the Shabbos table

Parshas Korach

How to Start an Argument

Moshe, you chose your own brother Aharon to be Kohen Godol (High Priest). We see that you are biased. How can we trust you in other areas? After all, we are all prophets. We were all at Har Sinai. If one blue thread of the tzitzis is sufficient for an entire tallis, then a tallis made completely of blue thread should not need any tzitzis! You must be joking when you tell us that it also needs tzitzis! If a mezuzah, which has only a small portion of the Torah written on it, is sufficient for the door of a house, then a house full of Sifrei Torah should not need a mezuzah. Are you jesting when you say that such a house needs a mezuzah? Where did all of the laws that restrict us in making a livelihood come from? We cannot plow with two different animals under the same yoke, we cannot sow different seeds together, we must leave the corners of the field for poor people, and we must give gifts to the Kohanim and Leviim. What is left for us? This cannot be the Torah that Hashem gave at Har Sinai. The Torah's ways are pleasant, not cruel. Moshe Rabbeinu, you are misleading us!"

Do you want to know how to start an argument? Take a lesson from Korach. His is the classic machlokes she'ayna lishaim shamayim (argument that is not for the sake of Heaven) that is mentioned in Pirkei Avos (5:20). How did Korach earn this dubious honor? Let us look at the roots of his machlokes. What motivated Korach? Jealousy and honor. The Medrash tells us that Korach was jealous of the appointment of his cousin, Elitzafon Ben Uziel, to the prestigious position of Prince of the tribe of Levi. Korach felt that he deserved the position due to the seniority of his lineage. Prodded by his wife, he rebelled against the authority of Moshe Rabbeinu. Instead of going to Moshe directly, he gathered 250 people and began telling them slanderous stories about the leader of the Jewish people. Moshe Rabbeinu tried to appease Korach, but to no avail. Korach continued to stir up the nation until the very end, when he received his bitter punishment of being swallowed up by an opening in the earth.

Jealousy and Honor

Korach's downfall began with jealousy and the desire for honor. Jealousy is one of the three things that remove a person from this world (Pirkei Avos 4:28). One who is jealous, does not truly believe that Hashem gives him everything he needs in life. He feels lacking something, and is jealous of someone who has it. We all know that we have what we need. I have what I need, and he has what he needs. Why do I not have his car, his home, his job? Because I do not need them. If I needed them, I would have them. So why should I be jealous of him? The desire for honor also removes a person from this world. Our purpose is to honor others, not to seek honor for ourselves. We should be happy for others when they receive honor. If we are deserving, the we will also receive honor.

"Children . . .
Jealousy can really make us miserable. 'He has that toy that I want. She always wears the nicest clothes. The baby gets all of Imma's attention. Oy, how I suffer!' Hashem gives us what we need. Why even bother to think about what we do not have? When we focus on what we have, we will see how truly blessed we are."

Directly to the Source

Korach did not take his complaint directly to Moshe Rabbeinu. Rather, he gathered 250 people and voiced his opinions to them. He did this in a way that made a mockery of Moshe Rabbeinu and the Torah. Contrast this with Moshe Rabbeinu's actions. He went privately to Korach, careful not to embarrass him in public. Moshe explained to him that the selection of Aharon for Kohen Godol was a command from Hashem. Similarly, the Torah laws that Korach questioned were directly from Hashem. An argument that is lishaim shamayim (for the sake of Heaven) strives for the truth. Moshe Rabbeinu was a man of truth who sought peace. Korach was not interested in truth. He wanted to satisfy his own desires by creating and increasing an unjustified argument.

"Children . . .
Moshe Rabbeinu teaches us how to make peace. Go to the other person directly and privately. Explain yourself and your point of view in a soft tone of voice. If you are honest, then you have done your part. With Hashem's help, the other person will also be honest and the matter will be settled."

Enjoy your Shabbos table !

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Simcha Groffman

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