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Reminders Every DayNow Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehos, the son of Levi… took men; And they rose up before Moshe…. two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, regularly summoned to the congregation, men of renown; And they gathered themselves together against Moshe and against Aaron, and said to them, You take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you lift up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? Rashi: Why did Korach see fit to dispute Moshe? He envied Elitzafan the son of Uziel for his leadership. Moshe appointed him leader over the sons of Kehos, by the word of G-d. Korach said, 'Father had four brothers, as it is said: "The sons of Kehos, etc." Amram was the firstborn. His two sons assumed great distinction--- one (Moshe) is the monarch, the other (Aharon) the Kohein Gadol. Who should appropriately assume the second [position], if not I, the son of Yitzhar, second to Amram? Yet he appointed, as leader, the son of the youngest of all of his (Amram's) brothers. I will oppose him, and nullify everything he said.' What did he do? He rose up and gathered two hundred fifty heads of Sanhedrin, mostly from the neighboring tribe of Reuven … He clothed them in garments made completely of techeiles. They came and stood before Moshe and said to him: "Does a garment made completely of techeiles require tzitzis, or not?' He said to them: "It is required." They began scoffing at him. "How is it possible that a garment made of other material is absolved by a single thread of techeiles, yet one made completely of techeiles cannot absolve itself?"
The Midrash Rabbah 18:3 adds: Korach asked... A house full of seforim, does it require a mezuzah? Moshe answered, "Yes, it does." Korach said, "All the sections of all the Torah scrolls are insufficient, yet these two paragraphs are enough?! Hashem did not command this. You have made it up yourself", Korach argued.
We notice that Rashi omitted Korach's second argument. We have to refer to the Medrash to find the entire conversation. The Kli Yakar writes that from the fact that Korach's parsha comes immediately following the parsha of tzitzis, it is easy to infer the first question. Seemingly, this is why Rashi mentions only this. What is the source of the Medrash for the second question about the mezuzah?
The Kli Yakar answers that it is inferred from a possuk later on: … and Dasan and Aviram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children. What was the purpose of telling us where they were standing? There must be some inference the Torah is trying to point out. The Medrash therefore explains that they stood by the door insulting and degrading the mezuzah. Korach argued against tzitzis, and Dasan and Aviram rebelled against the mezuzah. They said that Moshe invented these two mitzvos.
Rabbeinu Bachya explains that the argument in these two questions is basically the same. Logic dictates that if a blue string works on a garment, a garment made entirely of blue strings should not require anything else. So too, if 2 little paragraphs from the Torah are sufficient for the mitzvah of mezuzah, so a house full of sifrei Torah should definitely not require anything else.
Moreover, they were using the logic of these two mitzvos to rebel against Moshe Rabbeinu. Both tzitzis and mezuzah come to remind the person of all the mitzvos. Tzitzis resembles the blue of Heaven so one's mind should be directed heavenward; so too the purpose of a mezuzah is to serve as a reminder of Hashem's presence. Just like a garment made entirely of techeiles should not need the blue strings of the tzitzis, so too a house full of Torah scrolls should be enough of a reminder and not require writing 2 paragraphs of the Torah on the doorpost. From this we can conclude that a nation composed entirely of holy people should need no reminders, nor any leaders. They are all holy, and so all of them are worthy of being leaders. This was the basis of their open rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu's leadership, using the same logic.
The Kli Yakar continues that with this we can understand why their crime was so severe that even little children were punished. If Korach and his company were guilty of rebellion, why did the little children deserve to die?
The gemara (Shabbos 32b) asks why little children die. One opinion is that violating the commandment of tzitzis causes one's children to die; and the other opinion is that children die for the violation of the mezuzah. Both these mitzvos have a common denominator: they are reminders. A mezuzah serves as a reminder of Hashem when one enters and leaves his home. So too tzitzis constantly accompany the person to remind him of the mitzvos. The Navi states, "…you have forgotten the Torah of your God, I will also forget your children" (Hoshea 4:6). If you are so careless about the Hashem's precious Torah that you forget the mitzvos, so too will Hashem forget your precious children. Moreover, if you are so thoughtless as to not pay attention to those little strings hanging from your garment, so too will Hashem pay no attention to your little children hanging on to you.
So what went wrong? What was Korach's mistake? Perhaps we can use a thought from a ma'amar by Rav Elchanan Wasserman, zt"l (Kovetz Ma'amarim, Ma'amar Al Emunah). In the parsha of tzitzis it states,
åÀäÈéÈä ìÈëÆí ìÀöÄéöÄú åÌøÀàÄéúÆí àÉúåÉ åÌæÀëÇøÀúÌÆí àÆú ëÌÈì îÄöÀåÉú éÀ÷ÉåÈ÷ åÇòÂùÒÄéúÆí àÉúÈí åÀìÉà úÈúËøåÌ àÇçÂøÅé ìÀáÇáÀëÆí åÀàÇçÂøÅé òÅéðÅéëÆí àÂùÑÆø àÇúÌÆí æÉðÄéí àÇçÂøÅéäÆí: And it shall be to you for a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that you seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, which incline you to go astray;
The gemara (Brachos 12b) states, "after your heart, this is heresy (atheism), after your eyes, this is lust." Reb Elchanan asks, heresy is a function of the mind. It comes from misguided thinking. What does it have to do with the heart?
Moreover, faith is a mitzvah incumbent on every one of Klal Yisroel, even little children who were just bar mitzvah'd. If so many brilliant thinkers like Aristotle and the great philosophers through the ages were not able to attain emunah, how can we demand little children to have emunah? Reb Elchanan answers that emunah is really quite simple. If one's selfish desires don't get in the way, it is quite easy to believe. What happens is that one's mind becomes clouded with all sorts of ulterior motives and personal agendas. Then belief becomes a burden. In order to unburden himself, the apikorus develops all sorts of convoluted philosophies to reason himself out of believing. Therefore the real problem is the heart. The apikorus has not guarded his heart to keep it pure and clean, and therefore he developed heresy. Thus we are commanded not to go after our hearts which leads to heresy.
Similarly with Korach. He had deep seated ulterior motives. He claimed to be concerned about the entire Klal Yisroel that they were being misled by this man Moshe. Really, he was disturbed by the fact that he had been passed over for appointment to a high position. He felt himself worthy and was deeply envious and personally hurt that he was being ignored. This was a problem of his heart.
Thus the possuk by tzitzis admonishes us, "That you may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God." The purpose of tzitzis is to remind us. Even the greatest of people, even a potential gadol hador like Korach who was like a house full of seforim, requires a reminder to retain his holiness and be on guard from his heart leading him astray. This was Korach's mistake.
Rambam Hilchos Mezuzah 6:13:
A person must show great care in [the observance of the mitzvah of] mezuzah, because it is an obligation which is constantly incumbent upon everyone.
[Through its observance,] whenever a person enters or leaves [the house], he will encounter the unity of the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, and remember his love for Him. Thus, he will awake from his sleep and his obsession with the vanities of time, and recognize that there is nothing which lasts for eternity except the knowledge of the Creator of the world. This will motivate him to regain full awareness and follow the paths of the upright.
Whoever wears tefillin on his head and arm, wears tzitzis on his garment, and has a mezuzah on his entrance, can be assured that he will not sin, because he has many reminders. These are the angels, who will prevent him from sinning, as [Tehillim 34:8] states: "The angel of God camps around those who fear Him and protects them."
Blessed be God who offers assistance.
Many Gedolim have been very careful about this. I personally can testify that whenever my Rebbe Rav Scheinberg shlita enters or leaves a room he stops a moment and kisses the mezuzah. When asked about this, he quoted the above Ramabam. Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, zt"l, often quoted this Rambam. He would exclaim, "You hear this? Every time we come in or go out and we see the mezuzah we have to remember that, 'there is nothing which lasts for eternity except the knowledge of the Creator of the world.' A person passes the mezuzah several times a day, and each time it repeats itself and reminds him that the only thing that is eternal is knowledge of the Creator." He would repeat this Rambam over and over and then break out crying. (Peninei Rabbeinu Yechezkel)
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Yeshiva Gedolah Medrash Chaim
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood). You can access Rav Parkoff's Chizuk Sheets online:
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