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Weekly Chizuk

Parshas Korach


(Birkas Mordechai by Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rosh Yeshivas Ateret Yisrael, Jerusaelem, v. V.)

Korach … took [himself to one side] along with .... They confronted Moshe together with two hundred and fifty men from the children of Israel, chieftains of the congregation, representatives of the assembly, men of repute. They assembled against Moshe and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and the Lord is in their midst. So why do raise yourselves above the Lord's assembly?" (Bemidbar 16:1-3)

Targum Yonason ben Uziel: They stood up with chutzpa and ruled on halacha in front of Moshe regarding techeles. Moshe said, "I heard from the Holy Mouth, may His Name be blessed, that tzitzis must be white strings with one blue string." Korach and his cohorts made garments with tzitzis which were totally blue, something which Hashem had not commanded and dressed 250 men, leaders of the congregation in them.…

This was a terrible machlokes. They perpetrated deliberate and unparalleled humiliation and mockery of Moshe Rabbeinu together with open rebellion. Why did Targum Yonason have to add another hammer blow, "with chutzpa"? Wasn't there already enough of an outrage without these words?

It seems that the p'ssukim themselves forced Targum Yonason to add this: "They confronted Moshe," "They assembled against Moshe," "the entire congregation are all holy," "So why do raise yourselves above the Lord's assembly?" This all points to unparalleled chutzpa.

The question now is why did the Torah have to accent this? What does it add in judging Korach and his cohorts' actions? What difference does it make if they acted with chutzpa or not?

Once the rebbes in the yeshiva came before the Chofetz Chaim about a certain bochur. He had fallen into very bad ways. He had stopped davening and wasn't showing up to learn. The mashgiach asked permission to send him out of the yeshiva. The Chofetz Chaim refused. He should be chastised for his behavior, but he will soon return to normal. "Don't worry," retorted the Chofetz Chaim. "It's not so bad. He'll will grow in learning and eventually take a position as a rav in a city."

A short time later the mashgichim came to discuss another bochur. He was an exceptional bochur and a tremendous lamdan. Like many of the bochurim in the yeshiva, he ate his meals together with local families - teg. His hostess had complained that he had been very discourteous and disrespectful to her. The Chofetz Chaim told the mashgiach to tell him to call in the bochur. When the boy came the Chofetz Chaim to him to immediately pack his bags and go home.

The mashgiach stood there puzzled. He respectfully asked the Chofetz Chaim to explain the difference in the two responses. The Chofetz Chaim answered, "I don't know anything. I'm not a prophet. I'm not a magician. All I know is a mishnah in Avos: 'Rav Yehudah said, a brazen faced person will inherit Gehinom! While a shamefaced person will inherit Gan Eden.' A chupzpanyik will never do teshuva, while someone who is ashamed, eventually does teshuva!"

The first bochur was a seeker, but he had a yetzer ho-ra. He was sitting in his room because he was embarrassed. Chastise him and the words will penetrate and he will calm down; he'll do teshuvah and return to himself. The second bochur doesn't have an ear. He's totally wrapped up in himself. He can't hear anything. He'll never be a seeker, and so can never be a talmid. Therefore he must leave!

* * *

They retell an incident with the Alter from Slobodka. He once severely reprimanded a student. In the opinion of the Alter, the bochur had not acted properly, something which was indicative of faulty character.

Another talmid observed this incident and was very upset by it. But he was too afraid to approach the Alter personally so he went and wrote a letter. He asked how it is possible that the Rosh Yeshiva could act like that to such an wonderful and outstanding bochur?!

The Alter read the letter and then read it again. He then immediately called back the first bochur and continued rebuking him. But the author of the letter…. was immediately dismissed from the yeshiva!

If someone does something wrong he deserves rebuke and chastisement. His mentors can impress upon him the terrible things he is doing. But there's hope. We must continue working with him hoping he will change. But someone who is opinionated knows better than his Rosh Yeshiva. He knows who is important in the yeshiva and who is an outstanding student. He has no ear. He'll never hear. He's not a seeker, he just wants to voice his opinion.

Someone who can't hear must leave!

* * *

Who knows? It is possible that what determined Korach and his group's fate was that they were people without ears, people who can't hear. This is worse than outright rebellion.

Targum Yonason added, "with chutzpa." There's nothing more you can do with them. There's no hope they'll ever repent. They'll never listen. It's a lost cause!

Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos!

© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rosh Yeshiva
Yeshiva Shaare Chaim.

Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood).

If you would like to correspond with Rabbi Parkoff please contact him: or 732-325-1257

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