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How would you in the Torah world define evil incarnate? When the Torah says, “Vayikach Korach – And Korach took…” the Gemara in Sanhedrin asks: What exactly did he take? The Gemara answers, “Evil merchandise he took for himself.” What was this evil merchandise? The Tiferes Yehonasan reveals a telling gematria: The numerical value of the word Korach [308] plus the numerical value of the word ra, evil [270] equals 578. Machlokes (without the vav), strife, also equals 578. Thus we see that fighting is the true evil in the world.

This is the reason why it does not say on the second day of Creation that “Hashem saw that it was good.” On the second day the division between the upper waters and the lower waters took place, and there is no good where there is divisiveness. This is also the reason why Gehinnom was created on the second day – because those who engage in machlokes need the treatment of Gehinnom. Or, as the Maharal succinctly says, “Hell and strife are bedfellows.” The Maharal also says, “There is none whose end is more disastrous than those who fight.”


We have defined ra as machlokes, and this fits with the talmudic statement, “Ein ra’a ela Gehinnom – True evil is hell.” Thus, one evil finds its place in the other evil. It also fits with another talmudic adage, “Ein tov ela Torah – There is no good greater than Torah.”

And what is the essence of the Torah, meaning the thread that runs through the entire Torah? Rambam says in Hilchos Chanukah, “The whole Torah was given to make peace in the world,” – as it says, “Its ways are ways of sweetness and all its paths are paths of peace.” The antithesis of ra, fighting, is tov, meaning Torah – the essence of which is peace.

If you want to consider yourself a ben Torah, one whose essence is born and molded from the Torah, you have to be a person of peace. That’s why we find that regarding Geniva, who was a great Torah scholar, that his students were told not to stand up for him because he was an ish merivah, an argumentative person, and such a person is not a representative of Torah.

In a practical sense, the letters of the word machlokes form an anagram of the words cheilek maves, a portion of death. Machlokes is also an anagram of lokach maves, to take death to oneself. As Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, would say, “Just like the ground opened up and swallowed Korach to a terrible death, so too, sadly the ground opens up and swallows many people to an early grave because they get embroiled in poisonous strife.”

Another disastrous repercussion of machlokes can be seen from the fact that on the day of Korach’s uprising, the mon, manna, did not fall in the desert. Yet the mon did fall on the day that Bnei Yisroel worshiped the golden calf! This is consistent with the statement of the Shela HaKodesh that fighting is worse than idolatry. The symbolism of the mon not falling due to machlokes is the source for the famous saying, “One fight destroys a hundred livelihoods.”

The upshot of this discussion is that we should do whatever we can to avoid embroiling ourselves in a fight and we should teach our children over the Shabbos table that our family is allergic to fighting. When it comes to our relationship with our spouse, we should do whatever we can to avoid fighting, and when it does happen, both husband and wife should have a mission to put the fight to rest as speedily as possible. They should remember the famous Rashi in parshas Bechukosai, “Im ein Shalom, ein klum – If there is no peace, there is nothing.”

With the stakes so high, we must also remember that if a husband and wife have peace, then they have the Divine Presence in their midst. Therefore, we all should do whatever we can to safeguard the serenity and the tranquility of the home. This also is the best way to model good behavior for the children and grandchildren – that they too should have happy marriages with the Shechina in their midst.

In the merit of being a champion of peace, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.


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