Saturday, June 25, 2016

Korach 5776 (In Israel: Shabbat Mevorchim for the Month of Tammuz)

The Torah Portion of Korach 

Excerpted and Translated from the the Teachings of Rabbi Gershon Steinberg ztz"l
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben Chaim ztz"l

"And there took Korach the son of Yitzchar the son of Kehat the son of Levi." (Bamidbar 16:1)

The Chatam Sofer asked, how did the righteous sons of Levi name their son "Korach" which is a name of one the chiefs of Eisav (Breishit 36:5)? According to the Gemara (Yoma 38b) it is written that a man should not give his son the name of a wicked man, and we also see that he became a wicked man because they gave him this name. And the Chatam Sofer writes that perhaps the explanation of the verse "And there took Korach the son of Yitzchar the son of Kehat the son of Levi", is that he should have sanctified himself because he was the descendent of Yitzchar and Kehat and Levi, except that "there took Korach" , the name Korach took away all of the sanctity.

Rashi says "This Torah portion is expounded nicely." 

There are those that say, it's possible to give lectures on this Torah portion about Korach every day of the year, because throughout the year there are disputes. And it is also said regarding the verse, "and the sons of Korach didn't die" (Bamidbar 26:11), that dispute never ceases.

"And there took Korach." (Bamidbar 16:1) 

He took honor for himself. Honor is not something to take for yourself, but rather, others need to give you honor, and because Korah wanted to take honor before the right time, he therefore died before his time. (from Mayana Shel Torah)

Rashi says: "Korach, who was a clever man, what was it that he saw that led him to this folly?" 

It's said that Chana requested that she would have a son who would not be like his grandfather Korach, but rather he would be neither wise nor stupid, because one doesn't need to be too smart.

Just as there is a Kohen Gadol for the people of Israel, there should have been a Levi Gadol, and this appointment would have been designated for Korach, but because of the controversy Israel lost this thing. (from Imrai Emet in the name of the Zohar)

Korach asked Moshe, a house full of Seforim (Holy Books), does it need a Mezuzah? 

Moshe answered him, "Certainly". The teacher explained this to his students: that is just like if someone asks whether a store full of locks doesn't need a lock for locking the door.

Korach was jealous of the princely position of Elitzaphan ben Uziel.

The sons of Kehat in the order of their birth were: Amram, Yitzchar, Chevron, and Uziel. The sons of Amram were Moshe and Aharon, who received important appointments. Korach claimed that he was next in line after them, and that he deserved the position of prince, for he was the son of Yitzchar, the second son of Kehat, and it shouldn' t have been given to Elitzaphan who was the son of Uziel -- the fourth son of Kehat.

"They gathered together against Moshe and against Aharon...And Moshe heard and fell on his face." (Bamidbar 16:3-4) 

The Ramban asks, behold,they gathered also against Aharon, and why didn't Aharon fall on his face? And he explains, that Aharon was so ethical and holy that he didn't answer a word during all this dispute, and it was as if he were silent and admitting that Korach's level was higher than his level, except that he was doing as Moshe said and fulfilling the decree of the King.

"A righteous person like a date-palm tree will flower" (Tehillim 92:13)

The Ari HaKodesh used to say, that in the future to come there will be a correction for the soul of Korach, as it is said, "a righteous person like a date-palm tree will flower." (Tehillim 92:13) In the original Hebrew, this verse is: "Tzadik K'tamar Yifrach" . The last letters of these three Hebrew words are Kuf (end of Tzadik), Raish (end of K'tamar) , and Chet (end of Yifrach), and that spells the name "Korach" . In the end, also Korach will be thought of as being among the righteous people.

The Chozeh HaKodesh of Lublin was a descendent of Korach.

The Chozeh of Lublin said, that his grandfather didn't know that it's possible to serve Hashem from behind the stove (in a hidden, seemingly insignificant position) just like the Kohen HaGadol in the Holy of Holies.

"The wisdom of a woman builds her house" (Mishlei 14:1)

The wife of Ohn ben Pelet saved him. She said to him, "why are you getting involved in a dispute? Look, in any event either Moshe will be the leader or Korach, but you won't receive any position, so why should you get involved?" It is written in Mishlei (14:1): "The wisdom of a woman builds her house", and this refers to the wife of Ohn ben Pelet. Teachers of Ethics ask, how much wisdom does it take to look at the matter that way? Not much. But the explanation is, that at the time of a dispute, any straight thinking, even a little bit, is great deal of wisdom, because at the time of a dispute people lose their minds.

"The wisdom of a woman builds her house" (Mishlei 14:1)

That is the wife of Ohn ben Pelet. "And a foolish woman with her hands destroys it" (Mishlei 14:1), that is the wife of Korach, who said to him, "it' s not enough that Moshe took for himself Kingship, and to his brother he gave the position of Kohen Gadol, and it's necessary to give him T'rumot (donations), but he also told the whole tribe to shave". Korach said to her, "look, also Moshe shaved himself" . She said to him, "that's like what is stated 'may my soul die with the Pilishtim' (Shoftim 16:30 -- which Shimshon said after he was blinded and chained to the pillars of a building filled with Pilishtim). It's worthwhile for him to shave himself, in order so that everyone else will need to shave". (from Sanhedrin 110a) 

"My two sons you shall kill" (Braisheet 42:37)

Because Reuven said to Yaakov, "My two sons you shall kill, etc." (Braisheet 42:37), there came out from him Datan and Aviram, and they died. This is because the curse of a righteous man is fulfilled even if it is made conditionally. (from Ba'al HaTurim on the Torah Portion Mikaitz)

It is written in Ethics of the Fathers (Chapter 5), "Every dispute which is not for the sake of Heaven, this is the dispute of Korach and his congregation" . 

It has been asked, why is it written "Korach and his congregation" and not "Korach and Moshe"? The explanation is, that Moshe did not participate in the dispute at all, but rather said to Korach, as far as I'm concerned take everything, but the Holy One Blessed Be He doesn't agree with it. And there are those that explain "the dispute of Korach and his congregation" , that there was also a dispute amongst them, between Korach and his congregation. 

"And Moshe got up and went to Datan and Aviram." 

(based Rashi's commentary on the verse in Bamidbar 16:12 -- "And Moshe sent to call Datan and Aviram") From here we learn, that we should not support a dispute (since Moshe went after them to restore harmony with them with words of peace).

"And he shall not be like Korach and his congregation. " (Bamidbar 17:5) 

Rav said, everyone who supports a dispute, transgresses a prohibitive commandment, as it is said: "And he shall not be like Korach and his congregation. " (Bamidbar 17:5) Rav Ashi says, it is appropriate that he should be struck with Tzaraat (a spiritual skin disease commonly translated as "leprosy" in English). (from Sanhedrin 110a)


The Sages say that every time that a person gets angry, "all kinds of Gehinom rule over him". The Ben Ish Chai explains that the Sages say there are 3 kinds of Gehinom: 1) fire, 2) hail, 3) smoke. The nature of a person when he gets angry is that at first he gets red, that is fire; after that gets pale, that is hail, which is white; and after that he steams from his nostrils, that is smoke. 

"And the sons of Korach didn't die." (Bamidbar 26:11) 

Rashi says that a place was set aside for them in Gehinom. It is said that the reason we say Tehillim 47, "Lamenatzayach L'vnei Korach..." ("To the conductor, a psalm of the sons of Korach") before the sounding of the Shofar on Rosh Hashana, is in order to awaken us to the fact that even though the sons of Korach repented only when they were already in Gehinom, their repentance was accepted, and so thus everyone of us who awakens himself before the sounding of the Shofar, will have his repentance accepted, and he doesn't need to give up hope.

Two men came before the "Ohr Sameach" for a judgment about an area of land. 

Each one claimed that the land belonged to him. The Ohr Sameach asked them, where are the witnesses, and where is the legal document? They said to him, we don't have witnesses or a legal document. He said to them that they should make a compromise between themselves, but they didn't agree to that. He requested to see the piece of land that was under discussion in the case. When he got there he bent down to the ground and acted as if he were whispering to it and then he turned his ear to the ground to hear its answer. They asked him, what was it that you whispered? He said to them, I asked the ground which one of you it belongs to, and the ground said that both of you belong to it, that is to say, in the end every person dies and is buried in the ground and will belong to it. The two men understood the hint and agreed to compromise, and now it is understandable why Korach was punished by being swallowed by the earth. If he had remembered where we all go at the end of life, he wouldn't have disputed with Moshe. Therefore he was punished by being swallowed by the earth when he was still alive. (from Kol Yehuda)

The Torah Portion of Korach has 95 verses, 5 positive commandments, and 4 prohibitions. 
Haftora: "Vayomer Sh'muel" (Sh'muel Aleph, 11) 

This is Shabbat Mevorchim for the Month of Tammuz.  The Molad: Lail Shlishi at the hour 12:28 with 1 Chelek.  Rosh Chodesh Tammuz is on Yom R'vi'i and Yom Chamishi (Wednesday and Thursday).

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 4 (second cycle).

Candle lighting in Jerusalem: 7:11 p.m.
Sunset: 7:51 p.m.
Motzai Shabbat: 8:32 p.m.
Motzai Shabbat Rabbeinu Tam: 9:03 p.m.
Last time K'riat Sh'ma Magen Avraham: 8:12 a.m.

(The times are according to Daylight Savings Time, and were all copied from the original Torah Portion in Hebrew as given by Rabbi Gershon Steinberg' s son.)

The Hebrew letters that spell the name of the month of Tammuz are: Tav, Mem, Vuv, and Zayin.
These letters are the initial letters of two important messages:
1) "Z'manai T'shuva M'mashmashin U'va' in" (Note: Z'manai starts with Zayin, T'shuva starts with Tav, M'Mashmashin starts with Mem, U'va' in starts with Vuv)
In English that means: "The time for repentance is actualizing and coming."

2) "Z'rizin M'akdimin V'osin T'shuva" (Note: Z'rizin starts with Zayin, M'akdimin starts with Mem, V'osin starts with Vuv, T'shuva starts with Tav)
In English that means: "Alacritous people begin early and repent." 

May you all have a light-filled and happy Shabbat. 
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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