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ויקח קרח

Korach separated himself. (15:1)

Parashas Korach stands alone as the parsha which is yafeh nidreshes, expounded well, presenting many details. In his Teivas Gome, the author of the Pri MeGadim explains Rashi’s statement rationally. Most halachos of the Torah are time-sensitive, applicable during specific times. For instance, one does not lecture about Pesach during the Three Weeks, or about Chanukah during the month of Shevat. Parashas Korach, in which much of its theme touches on the deleterious effects of machlokes, controversy, sadly applies constantly. We are aware of no geographic or chronologic limitations to machlokes. It happens more often than we care to acknowledge,…

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העיני האנשים ההם תנקר לא נעלה

Even if you gouge out the eyes of those men, we shall not go up. (15:14)

Rashi explains that Dasan and Aviram replied to Moshe Rabbeinu’s request for a meeting, “Nothing you do – even if you blind us – will make us come.” Sforno explains their chutzpah as implying: “Do you think you can blind us to your failures?” We suggest an alternative explanation. Apparently, they specified eyes and blindness for a reason. They could have simply said, “There is nothing you can do; no punishment will convince us to listen to you.” I think it all boils down to how one views a person or a situation. If one’s vision is superficial, cursory, he…

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אם כמות כל האדם ימותון אלה ופקודת כל האדם יפקד עליהם לא ד' שלחני

If these die like the death of all men and the destiny of all men is visited upon them, then it is not Hashem Who has sent me. (16:29)

Korach and his henchmen impugned the integrity of Moshe Rabbeinu’s leadership. This was a mutiny against our quintessential leader and what he represented – Hashem and His Torah. This was unmitigated chutzpah at its nadir. We have unfortunately had despots throughout our nation’s history who have raised their fists against Torah leadership and have denounced our nation’s bond with the Torah. Korach, however, was the first to breach the peaceful coexistence of our people and disparage its leadership. His punishment was equally unparalleled: He went to his grave – alive. The entire Korach debacle begs elucidation. First, the Torah has…

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השב את מטה אהרן לפני העדות למשמרת

Put Aharon’s staff before the Testimony as a safe-keeping. (17:25)

Leadership is commonly understood to be the result of an interplay among various leadership qualities and positive innate character traits, skills and the external circumstances which serve as the backdrop for the leader to perform his role. Obviously, the characteristics of the community which he must shepherd is a major component. Ultimately, who is to become Klal Yisrael’s manhig, leader, is Divinely-mandated. Hashem confers leadership on whom He deems deserving of the position and who would best lead the nation during its present circumstances. Over time, the chosen leader will cultivate the qualities of communication, empathy, decision-making and vision which…

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כי כל האנשים הראים את כבדי ... ולא שמעו בקולי ... אם יראו את הארץ ... וכל מנאצי לא יראוה

All the men who have seen My Glory… and they have not listened to My voice… They shall not see the land … all those that spurn Me shall not see it. (14:22,23)

The terms, Ha’ro’im, “Who have seen (My Glory),” and Im yiru, ‘They shall not see,” appear to be closely related. This, explains Horav S.R. Hirsch, zl, is why the Torah, in issuing the decree that this generation would not enter the Land, uses the expression, re’iyah, seeing, rather than im ya’vo’u, they will not come. He explains the rationale for the altered text. The Holy Land, the Eretz zovas cholov u’devash, flowing with milk and honey, the Land in which Divine intervention is to be seen on a national basis can only attain its destiny if the people “see,” acknowledge…

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ארץ אוכלת יושביה היא וכל העם אשר ראינו בתוכה אנשי מדות

It is a land that consumes its inhabitants and all the people that we saw in it were men of great stature. (13:32)

It is a land that exhausts its inhabitants. It is a land not designed for people of ordinary size. Unless one has the constitution of a giant, he will become moribund there. Small and weak people do not survive there. Veritably, the meraglim encountered funerals wherever they went. Their error was a lack of faith in Hashem. They never asked themselves: Could Hashem be doing this for a reason? He was. The people were too preoccupied with visiting the cemeteries to notice a team of Jews wandering through the countryside. The report the spies brought back was based upon their…

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וימצאו איש מקשש עצים ביום השבת ... מות יומת האיש רגום אתו באבנים כל העדה

And they found a man gathering wood on the Shabbos day … The man shall be put to death; the entire assembly shall pelt him with stones. (15: 32,35)

Someone who is, for the first time, being introduced to the institution of Shabbos Kodesh can find it to be overwhelming. No other prohibitive mitzvah in the Torah exists whereby what appears to be one simple, although forbidden, act will incur such stringent punishment as execution by stoning, which is the most strict of the four modes of bais din mandated executions. If one were to chas v’shalom burn a Sefer Torah with all of its sacred names; if one were to eat a non-kosher animal, an act which is mitamtem es ha’lev, stuffs/occludes the heart (one who consumes non-kosher…

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ויעש כן אהרן... כאשר צוה ד' את משה

Aharon did so… as Hashem had commanded Moshe. (8:3)

Rashi writes: L’hagid shevacho shel Aharon – she’lo shinah, “To tell the praise of Aharon, in that he did not deviate.” This statement begs elucidation. Would it enter anyone’s imagination to suggest that Aharon might have deviated from Hashem’s command? A number of expositions explain Rashi’s statement. The Sifrei Chassidus have a twist on the definition of the word shinah, deviate. When we take into consideration that Aharon would prepare and light the Menorah twice daily, it might be appropriate to say that he never tired of his function. The same passion and love that he manifested in the morning,…

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ויהי אנשים אשר היו טמאים לנפש אדם ולא יכלו לעשות הפסח... ויאמרו... אנחנו טמאים... למה נגרע לבלתי הקריב את קרבן ד' במעדו

There were men who had been contaminated by a human corpse and could not make the Pesach-offering… they said, “We are contaminated… why should we be diminished by not offering Hashem’s offering in its appointed time?” (9:6,7)

A debate in the Talmud (Succah 25a) concerns the identity of the men who were contaminated. Rabbi Yosi HaGlili says that they were the pallbearers of Yosef’s coffin. Rabbi Akiva says they were Mishael and Elitzafan, who were occupied with the corpses of Nadav and Avihu. In any event, these were not ordinary Jews who wanted to display their religious commitment. These were men who were sincerely concerned about being left out as the nation celebrated the offering of the Korban Pesach. We wonder what these men were thinking. They were fully aware of their situation: they were tamei –…

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ויבכו גם בני ישראל ויאמרו מי יאכילנו בשר

And Bnei Yisrael also wept once more and said, “Who will feed us meat?” (11:5)

People are shaped by their desires and cravings, which, in turn, influence their choices and actions. Desires often stem from personal experiences, values and external influences. What a person craves reflects his priorities and character, as well as his pursuit of fulfillment in various aspects of life. In other words, a nation that had graduated from two centuries of slavery to be liberated to stand at Har Sinai, experiencing the greatest Divine Revelation during which they received the Torah, should not get bent out of shape over a lack of meat. Mi yaachileinu basar, “Who will feed us meat?” is…

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