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KorachIn this week's parashah we learn about the quarrel which Korach and his cohorts organized against Moshe Rabbeinu and his holy brother, Aharon, the Kohein Gadol. All of the quarrelers were severely punished as the Torah tells us: "The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all the people who were with Korach, and the entire wealth. They and all that was theirs descended alive to the pit; the earth covered them over and they were lost from among the congregation. All Israel that was around them fled at their sound, for they said, 'Lest the earth swallow us!' And a flame came forth from Hashem and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense" (Bemidbar 16:32-35)
. The Torah wants us to remember this terrible incident and refrain from the awful sin of quarrelling with others. Consequently, we are commanded:"that he not be like Korach and his assembly, as Hashem spoke about him through Moshe" (Ibid. 17:5).
Unfortunately, this mitzvah is very much neglected and wherever we go we find Jews quarrelling with each other and even belittling the leaders of the generation. The Talmud is full of warnings about the terrible consequences of machalokes and many books have been written on the subject. I was told, recently, that Hagaon, Harav Eliashiv shlita said that the reason there is so much suffering today, from all kinds of terrible sicknesses R.l, is because the generation is plagued with machalokes.
Worst of all is that the Yetzer Hara (the Evil Inclination) finds ways to convince us that it is beneficial and even a mitzvah to get involved in a particular quarrel. However, several times, Rashi quotes the words of the Sages that,"No Peace comes from quarrelling."
Many like to refer to the concept of "machalokes leshem Shomayim" (a quarrel for the sake of Heaven) which is mentioned in the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos, and use that as an excuse for their behavior. However, the Ya'aros Devash writes that only the quarrel between Hillel and Shamai were sanctioned as falling into that category and nothing else in the world, under any circumstances whatsoever.
In his book Aleynu Lishabeach, Rabbi Zilberstein shlita repeats a beautiful story which he saw in the pamphlet, Kol HaTorah.
There was an out-of-town community in the USA which was deteriorating spiritually, due to lack of proper leadership. The elders of the community decided to bring a high-caliber Torah scholar who would serve as their Rabbi and open a yeshiva to educate the youngsters in the ways of the Torah. However, it didn't take long to realize that the Rabbi, a European refugee, although he was indeed a phenomenal scholar, could not relate to the American youngsters. The generation gap was too great and, having very little in common, they could not understand nor appreciate each other.
In desperation, the leaders of the community went to the Beis Medrash Govoha, in Lakewood, New Jersey, and offered a group of young men an exorbitant sum of money to come and open another yeshiva in their town. These American born Torah scholars would surely know how to attract the youth and inspire them to be observant Jews, following in the way of the Torah.
Although the offer was very tempting, both spiritually and materialistically, the young men, being real Torah scholars, knew that they could not make such a move without first consulting with the Torah leaders of the generation. They traveled to New York and consulted with the Torah Giant, Hagaon, Harav Moshe Feinstein ztvk"l. Reb Moshe said that since there is a group of laymen in the community who respect and admire the older Rabbi, their arrival would immediately spark a machalokes; "and one must run away from machalokes as he does from fire!"
The young men argued that if they don't go there, the spiritual situation will deteriorate even more. But Reb Moshe replied that as bad as the situation is at the moment, machalokes will only make things worse. The young men obeyed, of course, and did not move to the town.
Three years later, the elderly Rabbi realized himself that he had not succeeded in his mission and so he went to visit Reb Moshe to seek his advice. Reb Moshe immediately suggested that he go to Lakewood to invite some young men to join him and help him in his yeshiva. Upon arriving at the great Torah Center, they immediately directed the Rabbi to that same group which had been approached a few years earlier, He told them that Reb Moshe had suggested that they come and assist him in his community. The group went with the Rabbi and together, in a spirit of true harmony and mutual respect, they instilled a fresh atmosphere of Torah and successfully improved the spiritual situation of the entire community.
Such are the ways of the Torah and her loyal adherents as it says (Mishlei 3:17), "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
Shema Yisrael Torah Network