Don't Mention My Name
"Korach the son of Yitzhar the son of Kehas, the son of Levi" (Bamidbar 16:1). Levi was the son of Yaakov. When the Torah lists Korach's lineage, it stops at Levi and does not mention Yaakov. Why? Korach occupies an infamous place in Jewish history. He was the first Jew to challenge the Gadol HaDor (Torah leader of the generation). Until then it was unthinkable to question the authority of a Torah leader. Then Korach rose against Moshe Rabbeinu. The respect and awe of Torah leadership was breached. The honor accorded to our Gedolim would never be the same. Rashi inform us that Yaakov did not want his name mentioned in reference to the terrible machlokes (argument) of Korach. Therefore, he asked Hashem to have mercy on him and leave his name out of Korach's lineage.
Children . . .
Do you see how far we have to distance ourselves from machlokes? Yaakov Avinu lived four generations before Korach. He was not involved in the machlokes in any way whatsoever. Still, he did not even want his name mentioned in the same breath as that of Korach. That is an indication of how disastrous machlokes is. We must all do our best to avoid needless machlokes at all costs. Especially among our family, neighbors, and classmates. Machlokes can destroy every good thing in your life. Don't let it happen to you.
"Moshe, if four threads of techailes (blue wool) make a tallis kosher, then an entire tallis made of techailes must surely be kosher." "No, it is not Korach." "Moshe, If a small mezuzah with two parshios of the Torah written on it are enough for a house, then surely a house filled with Sifrei Torah does not need a mezuzah!" "Yes it does, Korach." "That's ridiculous! Look, here are 250 talleisim made entirely of techailes. Look who are donning them; 250 Roshei Sanhedrious (heads of high courts of Torah law)." Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt"l points out that Korach's claims were totally unfounded. Korach was a very intelligent person. How could he have asked such ridiculous questions? Even more amazing is the fact that he was able to convince 250 Jewish leaders, brilliant and respected Roshei Sanhedrious, to follow him. How did he do it? Rav Shmuelevitz explains that Korach's questions had an air of leitzonus (mockery) about them. He was able to ridicule Moshe Rabbeinu and his authority. Ridicule gives a person power way beyond that of logic. The episode of Korach illustrates the tremendous destructive force of leitzonus.
Children . . .
What's wrong with making a little joke? It's a mitzvah to be happy, isn't it? Let us not confuse happiness with leitzonus. Happiness comes from appreciating everything that you have in life. When you realize how much Hashem has given to you, and are contented with all you have, you cannot help but to be happy. Leitzonus, on the other hand is a destructive force which only wants to destroy good people and their deeds. It has the power to overthrow the good using ridicule and mockery. Additionally, one who makes fun of another often transgresses the sins of embarrassing your fellow man and hurting him with words. Kinderlach, before you make that quick joke think of the damage and the sins that it will cause. Is it really worth it?
Jealousy and Honor
Korach's downfall began with jealousy and the desire for honor. The Medrash explains 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. 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, then 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.
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