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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Korach’

Parshas Korach

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Vol. LXVII No. 28                                           5776

New York City
July 8, 2016 – 2 Tammuz 5776
8:10 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: 9:18 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sabbath Ends: Rabbenu Tam 9:41 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Weekly Reading: Korach
Weekly Haftara: VaYomer Shmuel (I Samuel 11:14‑12:22)
Daf Yomi: Bava Kama 38
Mishna Yomit: Kilayim 3:2-3
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 8:12-14
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Kelim chap. 12-14
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:31 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sunrise: 5:33 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:17 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Sunset: 8:28 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 4

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Korach: When There is no Communication

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

We all know that true communication means listening as well as speaking. Yet in Parshat Korach – even while there is a whole lot of speaking – one is hard pressed to find many examples of listening.

Korach and his group launch the first salvo, asking what appears to be a rhetorical question: “Why do you raise yourselves over the congregation of God?” Although Moshe responds, he does not answer the question. Immediately afterward, however, he turns to Korach with his own rhetorical questions: “Is it a small thing to you that God separated you… [as Levites], that you should also request the priesthood?” and “Who is Aharon that you should complain about him?” Before we even notice that these questions are left hanging in the air, we encounter new unanswered rhetorical questions. This time they come from Korach’s allies, Datan and Aviram, who ask Moshe, “Is it a small thing that you have taken us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert?” and “Will you gouge out [our] eyes?”

Things continue to fall apart until Moshe feels forced to appeal to God for retribution against the rebels. But then something curious – yet by now expected – happens. God threatens to destroy the entire Jewish people, most of whom have now fallen in behind Korach. Moshe takes his usual stance of defending the children of Israel and asking God to kill only those guilty of true rebellion and not those who are just undecided (following the approach of Ramban). However, he does this by means of yet another rhetorical question: “Will one man sin and You get upset at the whole congregation?” Here too, no answer is given.

The communication gap here is really two-sided. It certainly starts with Korach and his group, but it subsequently infects Moshe as well. In fact, Moshe seems so disturbed by the tenor of the discussion (or non-discussion) that he cannot break out of it, even when speaking to God.

When the rabbis critique the “disagreement of Korach and his group,” they are referring to the breakdown of communication that we have just traced. In Pirkei Avot 5:17 we read that such a disagreement will not have positive results, whereas disagreements such as the ones between

Hillel and Shammai will. The difference, say the rabbis, is that the latter was “for the sake of

heaven,” whereas the former was not. No doubt that is what is ultimately behind good communication, but the practical difference is that Hillel and Shammai were not asking rhetorical questions and walking away from each other. They argued back and forth to express their perspectives and to hear what the other had to say.

The Torah shows the verbal sparring between Korach and his opponents as the exact opposite of the debates between Hillel and Shammai, thereby emphasizing the lack of purposefulness in the various discussions that take place among the former. When Moshe sidesteps Korach’s initial question he does so because Korach doesn’t want to hear an answer, and one can only give an answer to someone looking for it. And when Moshe throws rhetorical questions back at Korach, it is likely a way to hold a mirror up to him: “Listen to your tone and your lack of true communication,” Moshe seems to be saying. “If you want me to listen to you then be prepared to listen yourself, and if you don’t intend to listen then don’t expect me to, either!”

Yet the power of negativity is such that even those interested in communication can get swept up in it. The correct answer to those who are not interested in communication is to turn around and walk away. Not only is non-communicative talk not constructive, it is actually detrimental. By the end of our story we see Moshe taking up this non-communicative stance as well; even before God.

And if someone as great as Moshe may have succumbed to the negative-communication trap, it should serve as a warning to us all. It is hard to let an opponent have the last word. But if they will not listen to our response, anything we might say is actually superfluous. In fact, it is more than superfluous – it creates frustration, and from that frustration to losing control is too easy a path for us to take.


Rabbi Francis Nataf

Korach: Rejecting Israel’s Leaders

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

We’ve seen Israel complain over and over, but never before have they tried to undermine and dispose of their leaders. Join us as we make sense of Korach’s shocking complaints, this week on the Parsha Experiment.

This video is from Rabbi David Block and Immanuel Shalev.


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Rabbi David Fohrman

Pamela Geller’s Coup Against Jihad, and a Coup Against Moses

Friday, June 19th, 2015


Yishai deals with modern-day and ancient battles. First he is joined by political activist and commentator Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and author, among other books, of “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance.” She sponsored the “Draw the Prophet” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, which was attacked by jihadists, who were killed in a shootout. She tells Yishai about the challenges involved in fighting jihad in the US and Israel.

Then, Yishai is joined in-studio by Rabbi Mike Feuer to talk about the internecine Jewish political battles in the Book the Numbers. Was the biblical character Korach a communist or a man of the people? A fighter for democracy or a jealous would-be leader? Why did he pick a fight with Moses? And why did he merit having the Prophet Samuel as his progeny.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Moshe Herman

Korach and the Three-Fingered Salute

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Jewish thought is filled with examples of opposites. We can either listen to the good or evil inclination, a tzadik (righteous person) or rasha (evil person), etc… there are no shortage of examples. But it appears that we now have one more.

If arabs have made a three finger salute to celebrate the kidnapping of three precious Jewish boys, then with the intention of counteracting the evil of this salute, we should promote the opposite. Since the three fingered salute is being used as a sign for evil – as the Primordial Snake was in years past – our work now is to invest ourselves in publicizing the opposite.

We should learn to “live with the times,” to live life in the light of the weekly Torah portion. Thus we would expect to find some allusion (and rectification) to this recent headline in the timeless teachings of the Torah.

But before we discuss the Torah portion of Korach that we are now in, let’s first quote something from the sages related to our present Hebrew month of Sivan.

Blessing Threes

When beginning the Hebrew calendar from Nisan, Sivan is the third month. But this isn’t the only three for Sivan. As the sages state:

“Blessed is the Merciful one who gave a threefold Torah to a threefold people, by the third, on the third day, in the third month.”

In this quote, God is referred to as the “Merciful One.” God’s attribute of mercy is itself related to the number three, for it is the third of the seven emotive attributes of the soul.

Thus this is our first prayer for this post is that our three — Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali — should immediately be blessed and redeemed by the Merciful One.

One People United

Now we turn to our present Torah portion of Korach.

Korach’s claim was that “The entire congregation are all holy,” but why isn’t this claim considered just?” On Mt. Sinai it says, “And you shall be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” and in the Torah Portion of Kedoshim the entire congregation were told, “Be holy”!

The truth is that each member of the Jewish people does have something in common. Each and every one of us is a part of the “holy nation,” and everyone has a Divine soul that is “an actual part of God above.” Nonetheless, holiness comes at various levels: there is the special holiness of every Jew; there is the special holiness of the kohanim (priests) that ordinary Jews and Levites don’t have; and there is the holiness of Aaron, the High Priest, which is referred to as “holy of holies.”

But while Korach’s egalitarian approach may seem more considerate of the “individual rights” of every Jew, it promotes the opposite. Korach could only see individuals that live individual lives. From his perspective, we live in a divided world in which there are only individuals and countless details.

This week, however, we witnessed true unity. Not from the arabs who claimed to have become “united” together, but from the true unity of the Jewish people rallying around, and praying for, these three boys.

Thus how would we envision a rectified, holy version of the three finger salute? That it should serve as a reminder as to true Jewish “salute” of unity. While there are some Jews who serve as the heads (i.e., leaders) of the Jewish people, and others as the feet to carry out the directives of these heads, we all share the same body. Whereas the ‘unity’ of the arabs is the height of disunity, the unity of the Jewish people remains always an essential part of our being.

Yonatan Gordon

Korach: Can We Influence God?

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Description: In this week’s parsha video, Rabbi Fohrman points to two fascinating stories which seem to have contradictory lessons about the way we interact with God.

These stories force us to ask a theological question: what impact, if any, can we have on God? Is it possible for us to influence God?

Visit AlephBeta.  /  Rabbi David Fohrman

Rabbi David Fohrman

Korach: The Danger Of Quarreling

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Aharon HaKohen is distinguished for his love of peace. Korach earned distinction for failing in this area; his name has become synonymous with dispute and divisiveness. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, found in this story a striking lesson about the danger of argumentativeness and its application to every Jew.

“And he shall not be like Korach and his congregation” (17:5). This verse speaks of two principles. The first is that the memorial created by coating the Mizbeach with the metal from the censers of the dissidents who perished is intended as “a sign for the sons of Israel” (17:3) so that never again should anyone challenge the prerogative of the sons of Aharon as the kohanim of Hashem. The second principle is not to engage in quarrels – not to “be like Korach and his congregation,” allowing ourselves to be motivated by envy or desire for glory or power and thereby cause dissension among the people of Israel.

Thus one purpose of the episode was to serve as a model to warn against quarrels of every kind, domestic or business, between private persons or groups in the community. One should not say that only against Moshe and Aharon it was wrong – but that against others we may quarrel. Or that at least the sin would not be of equal gravity as in the case of Korach. The Torah declares that in every generation all Israelites are held as responsible as was Korach for any form of jealous dissension.

Although this admonition is specifically directed against future claimants to the priesthood, it is actually a general admonition against disharmony and divisiveness, as all admonitions to the nation are also intended for individuals and their private behavior.

All events in the Torah are intended as models and lessons for guidance to individuals in their personal conduct. Rambam writes, “One should hearken to his neighbor’s words and not be obstinate.… Thus the Torah commands (Devarim 10:16): ‘Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and no longer stiffen your neck’ ” (Moreh Nevuchim 3:33). Although this admonition was said to the nation in reference to certain national misdeeds, it is intended for everyone at all times.

Similar directives for personal behavior are cited by Rambam (ibid.) from various pronouncements concerning the nation. Following this principle, whenever Hashem Speaks to any person in Scripture, or whatever Scripture says concerning an individual or the entire nation, is to be considered as a lesson for the individual behavior of every person and a requirement Hashem demands of all.

Similarly, Rabbeinu Yonah (Shaare Teshuvah 3:17) cites the commandment to “remember the kindnesses of Hashem and to meditate on them, as is said: ‘And you shall remember all the journey’ (Devarim 8:2).” This was said specifically to Israel in general so that the nation would remember the journeys in the wilderness for 40 years (ibid.), yet it is considered an obligation for every person to remember his own journey in life and always to look back with gratitude on Hashem’s many kindnesses to him.

Similarly, the admonition that the king should not become arrogant over his brother-Israelites (Devarim 17:20) is understood (R. Yonah, Shaare Teshuvah 3:34) as an admonition for everyone to follow.

“You have killed the people of Hashem” (17:7). Here the people vouch for Korach and his associates as being as fully accredited as all other sons of Israel. Even though the miraculous destruction of Korach had clearly demonstrated that this was Hashem’s will, they blamed Moshe for proposing (16:18) this punishment. By this statement the people testified that Korach and his company were truly observant and fully loyal Israelites. Had Korach and his associates openly transgressed the least commandment, they would not have been the generous encomium “the people of Hashem.”

In any previous dissension – such as the meraglim or Miriam (17:1) or the complainers (11:1) – Korach had never been named as a participant and it is certain that when Moshe called out “Who is for Hashem, to me!” (Shemos 32:26) and “all the sons of Levi gathered themselves to him” (ibid.), Korach had been among them. Moshe’s prayer to Hashem – “Turn not to their offering” (16:58) – is sufficient evidence of the worth of these opponents.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller

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