Friday, July 1, 2016

Parsha Korach, diary of a Rabbi

Please add again to the list: Chaim Dovid ben Chana Golda

Parsha Korach

In 5768 I wrote a little commentary on Perkei Avos which gave me the idea for the 5769 commentary on Torah which is the basis for what I am publishing this week.

From Perkei Avos Chapter 2: He [Rabban Yochanan] said to them [his students]: Go out and see what is a good way to which a person should cleave. R. Eliezer said: A good eye. R. Yehoshua said: A good friend. R. Yossi said: A good neighbor. R. Shimon said: One who considers consequences. R. Elazar said: A good heart. He said to them, I prefer the words of Elazar ben Arach over your words, for included in his words are your words.

R. Yossi said: A good neighbor – Our Sages say that woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor. Next to Reuven and Gad was the Kohath family of Leviim. Korach did not have to make too much of an effort to convince Datan and Aviram to rebel against Moshe. Had they have had a better neighbor with perhaps a favorable eye for Moshe, they would have never participated in a rebellion.

The Zohar mentions the spiritual Realm of the rebellion. Leviim represented the left side of HASHEM and the Cohanim the right side. Korach tried to mess up the higher spiritual order by mixing up the left and the right. 


16:1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up in face of Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty men; they were princes of the congregation, the elect men of the assembly, men of renown;


Over ambition and self delusion of these great men was their down fall. These people did not believe that Moshe was appointed for his humility and his knowledge of leadership by growing up in Pharaoh’s court. They viewed him as an outsider. Could you imagine me trying to be US Secretary of Defense after having served in the Israeli leadership. Although I am not a turn coat and loyal to my country of birth and my job, I can image a riot being caused by somebody appointing me to such a position. However, the same position in Israel might be possible, but I could not accept it as I would not renounce my American Citizenship. So perhaps here my principles are greater than my personal ambition. However, Korach and the other members of the assembly had just the opposite ideas. Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts. There was a joke about Mrs. Charles Degaulle wanting to speak to her husband in the living room. “Charles.” “Mr. President” etc. until out of frustration she shouts “Mon Deux” and he answers, “Darling you can call me Charlie.” Oh course he was not really like that but he was with his nose in the air for the honor of France.


3 and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them: 'Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?'


On the surface things looked very bad. Moshe was the king, his brother was the high priest. It smelled of nepotism or what we call special protection in Israel. Although J.F. Kennedy was a beloved president, the appointment of Robert F. Kennedy as Attorney General and Edward (Teddy) becoming the Senator for MA did have a flavor of nepotism in it. We cannot say the same about John and John Q. Adams or Pelosi or the Bush family. The emotion of Jealousy, evil eye upon Moshe and even a feeling of being left out led to this. The next sentence is how Moshe felt about the whole leadership role.


4 And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.


If we go back to Sefer Shemos and the incident of the burning bush, we know that Moshe wanted to shake off such responsibilities. He was doing his best to avoid the appointment. Yet our Sages tell us that those who run from honor – the honor comes to them. Those who seek out honor like Korach the honor avoids them.


 5 And he spoke unto Korah and unto all his company, saying: 'In the morning the LORD will show who are His, and who is holy, and will cause him to come near unto Him; even him whom He may choose will He cause to come near unto Him.


Moshe is sort of giving G-D the democratic vote here on the issue. Explaining further what I wrote above: In reality, Moshe knew that G-D had chosen him even though at the burning bush on Mr. Sinai, he was sort of rebelling against G-D saying “Chose whom you want (but please leave me out of this).” Many times people don’t want power but once given it, they like to hold on to it. Rav Boyer Shlita told our Kollel these thoughts began going to his head after he became the mayor of Bnei Berak. Moshe did not want the power because he was humble but he did not want to lose it in a dispute that was far from the sake of heaven. For to serve the L-RD, one had to do things purely for the sake of heaven and that was not Korach’s driving force but just plain raw power.


6 This do: take you censors, Korah, and all his company;


Why did he see fit to speak to them thus? He said to them, “Among the nations, there are various forms of worship and many priests, and they do not all gather in one temple. We, however, have only one God, one ark, one Torah, one altar, and one kohen gadol, but you two hundred and fifty men are all seeking the kehunah Gedolah ! I too would prefer that. Here, take for yourselves the service most dear-it is the incense, more cherished than any other sacrifice, but it contains deadly poison, by which Nadab and Abihu were burnt. Therefore, he warned them, ”and it will be the one whom the Lord chooses-he is the holy one“ [meaning,] that he is already in his [state of] holiness. Is it not obvious that [the one] who is chosen is the holy one? Rather, Moses told them, ”I am telling you this so that you should not be found guilty. For the one He chooses will survive, and the rest of you will perish." - [Mid. Tanchuma 5, Bamidbar Rabbah 18:8]


Rashi uses “among the nations” because there multitudes are present. Just this week in Iran over a million people come out to political demonstrations. But among Am Yisrael where we are few in numbers, quality replaces quantity and a small around of people are priests. (An interesting aside note that my Yeshuv is situated in the area where the Maccabees lived and they were Cohanim. Our Yeshuv has a disproportional amount of Cohanim to that of the regular population of Yisrael and Leviim.)


7 and put fire therein, and put incense upon them before the LORD to-morrow; and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy; ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.'


[interpreted Midrashically as:] I have told you a very great thing. Were they not fools? For he warned them about it and they [still] took upon themselves to offer [the incense]. They sinned at the cost of their lives, as it says, “the censers of these who sinned at the cost of their lives” (17:3). But what did Korah, who was astute, see [to commit] this folly? His vision deceived him. He saw [prophetically] a chain of great people descended from him: Samuel, who is equal [in importance] to Moses and Aaron. He [Korah] said, “ For his sake I will be spared. [He also saw] twenty-four watches [of Levites] emanating from his grandsons, all prophesying through the holy spirit, as it says, ”all these were the sons of Heman“ (I Chron 25:5). He said, ” Is it possible that all this greatness is destined to emanate from me, and I should remain silent?“ Therefore, he participated [in the rebellion] to reach that prerogative, for he had heard from Moses that they would all perish and one would escape [death]: ”the one whom the Lord chooses-he is the holy one.“ He erred in thinking that it referred to him. He, however, did not ”see" properly, for his sons repented [and thus did not die at that time]. Moses, however, foresaw this. - [This is found in Mid.] Tanchuma [Korach 5, Num. Rabbah 18:8] you have taken too much upon yourselves. [The simple interpretation is:] You have taken too great a task upon yourselves, to rebel against the Holy One, blessed is He.

When HASHEM appoints a Prophet it is not a political appointment or a popularity contest or a book of tricks to stay in power by avoiding elections. Sometimes it is not good to ‘know’ the future because without completely clear prophecy, one sees only a partial picture.


 8 And Moses said unto Korah: 'Hear now, ye sons of Levi: 9 is it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them; 10 and that He hath brought thee near, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee? and will ye seek the priesthood also?


If I were to modernize the story, I would have Moshe act as chief of the Securities Exchange Commission talking to the scoundrel Bernie Madoff. It is not enough for you to have headed the NASDAQ you now want to become popular through a fraudulent Ponzi Scheme? On that you will fall from greatness and lose everything you have, a nice home, a loving wife at your side, children, a brother and the rest of your days you will rot in jail and pay back in the next world and will be lucky to reincarnate if at all. The principle is the same. A person with influence, power, established as a leader goes and throws it all away for mere false dreams and bought love that will run out on him as it is based on sheker (lies/falsehoods) and not the Emmet (truth) that stands on a firm foundation. [In Hebrew the letters Shin Kof Resh stand on one foot so to say while Aleph Mem Tav stand on a solid foundation of two feet.] In Perkei Avos it is written and detailed by a Medrash that the spot where the earth opened up its mouth to swallow Korach, one can hear the 250 still yelling in Hebrew “Moshe Emmet v’ Toraso Emmet”.


11 Therefore thou and all thy company that are gathered together against the LORD--; and as to Aaron, what is he that ye murmur against him?' 12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; and they said: 'We will not come up; 13 is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, but thou must needs make thyself also a prince over us? 14 Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards; wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.' 15 And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD: 'Respect not Thou their offering; I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.' 16 And Moses said unto Korach: 'Be thou and all thy congregation before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to-morrow;


From the language here in the Pshat of the conversation, if they had come and requested to be participants in offerings to HASHEM for the sake of heaven sort of a Chassidus or Chidur to glorify HASHEM that Moshe would have been humble enough to request something on their behalf. But they came to form both a political and spiritual revolution against HASHEM and Moshe. This is what angered the humblest of me.


31 And it came to pass, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground did cleave asunder that was under them. 32 And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korach, and all their goods. 33 So they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit; and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the assembly.


Note the sons of Korach did not participate in this fiasco. They did not want to rebel and they saw no purpose in this as they were not elders like Korach and the other rebels.


34 And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them; for they said: 'Lest the earth swallow us up.' 35 And fire came forth from the LORD, and devoured the two hundred and fifty men that offered the incense.


Did the sons of Korach write a Psalm now to praise HASHEM or was it in later generations? This is not clear to me but they removed themselves and were saved and Mrs. On ben Peleg had him so drunk from the night before that he overslept the incident and was saved. Praise be the righteous women of Israel.


17:1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 2 ‘Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the fire-pans out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder; for they are become holy; 3 even the fire-pans of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, and let them be made beaten plates for a covering of the altar—for they are become holy, because they were offered before the LORD—that they may be a sign unto the children of Israel.’ 4 And Eleazar the priest took the brazen fire-pans, which they that were burnt had offered; and they beat them out for a covering of the altar, 5 to be a memorial unto the children of Israel, to the end that no common man, that is not of the seed of Aaron, draw near to burn incense before the LORD; that he fare not as Korach, and as his company; as the LORD spoke unto him by the hand of Moses.

This was now a reestablishment or reinforcement of what was meant to be at the start.

6 But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying: ‘Ye have killed the people of the LORD.’ 7 And it came to pass, when the congregation was assembled against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tent of meeting; and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. 8 And Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting.

Complaints and more complaints from the ungrateful congregation of freed slaves. These men who had never tasted freedom were free and running amok like anarchists.

9 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 10 ‘Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.’ And they fell upon their faces. 11 And Moses said unto Aaron: ‘Take thy fire-pan, and put fire therein from off the altar, and lay incense thereon, and carry it quickly unto the congregation, and make atonement for them; for there is wrath gone out from the LORD: the plague is begun.’ 12 And Aaron took as Moses spoke, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people; and he put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. 13 And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. 14 Now they that died by the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides them that died about the matter of Korach. 15 And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tent of meeting, and the plague was stayed.

It was combination of prayer and incense that the plague was stayed. For the DIVINE JUDGEMENT was beginning to overcome the DIVINE MERCY in the heavenly court. It was only in intervening of Moshe and Aaron’s prayers that tipped the scales in the favor of Am Yisrael.

16 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 17 ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of them rods, one for each fathers’ house, of all their princes according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; thou shalt write every man’s name upon his rod. 18 And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi, for there shall be one rod for the head of their fathers’ house. … 23 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and put forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. 24 AnRd Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD unto all the children of Israel; and they looked, and took every man his rod.

This put a final end on the rebellions against the authority vested in Moshe and Aaron.

25 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept there, for a token against the rebellious children; that there may be made an end of their murmurings against Me, that they die not.’ 26 Thus did Moses; as the LORD commanded him, so did he. …
18: 1 And the LORD said unto Aaron: 'Thou and thy sons and thy fathers' house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary; and thou and thy sons with thee shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.

[God did not say directly to Aaron but] He said [this] to Moses to say to Aaron (Sifrei Korach 17) and caution him regarding regulations for the [benefit of the] Israelites, that they should not enter the Sanctuary. You, your sons and your father’s house. They are the sons of Kohath, who was Amram’s father. — [Midrash Aggadah] Shall bear the iniquity associated with the Sanctuary. I impose upon you the punishment of the outsiders who sin regarding the sacred objects entrusted to you; the Tent, the ark, the table, and the sacred vessels. You shall sit and warn any unauthorized person who attempts to touch [the sacred objects]. and you and your sons. The kohanim . shall bear the sin associated with your kehunah. For it is not given over to the Levites. You shall warn the Levites who might inadvertently err, that they may not touch you during your [performance of the] service.

As with most jobs comes responsibilities. The simple cleaning person at a factory has to answer to the chief in charge of clean-up maintenance who his under the person responsible for all maintenance of the plant. If the CEO and CFO of a company are missing, the average worker will continue his work for months without noticing a change but if there is no paper in the toilets and the garbage cans are full, the average work to the manager knows and feels it. So on the surface we see these beautiful garments of the Cohain Gadol, yet he could never lift his hands over his head while he was wearing the Mitzneffet (Mitre) on his head because the Tzitz had on it “Kodesh Le HASHEM” written on it. The priests had to be pure unto the 4th grade of Tumay for the Korbanos while most of the Bnei Yisrael was only pure to the 2nd grade to enter the Beis HaMikdash and the Leviim unto the 3rd grade. So it was easy for iniquities to enter into the Kahuna and that is what this Pasuk warns us.

2 And thy brethren also, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of thy father, bring thou near with thee, that they may be joined unto thee, and minister unto thee, thou and thy sons with thee being before the tent of the testimony.

After the incident with Korach, this is reconfirming that the Leviim as a whole did not lose their holy status.

3 And they shall keep thy charge, and the charge of all the Tent; only they shall not come nigh unto the holy furniture and unto the altar, that they die not, neither they, nor ye.

The Leviim were used as guards after the Temple was built, singers, flayers of sacrifices, maintenance personal of the Beis HaMikdash such as washing the blood, repairing the doors and even going in blindfolded into the Holy of Holies for plain maintenance work or with a Cohain for this. Their job was not simple but they were also school teachers of Torah among the nation and tithe collectors from poor farmers and towns who could not afford to travel to Yerushalayim. They would sing the song/Psalm each day for the sacrifice as we say at the end of the service and they would recite Hallel during the Korban Pessach and Songs, Psalms and prayers for the other sacrifices and perhaps even hand the wood to the Cohanim for putting on the Misbayach (altar).

4 And they shall be joined unto thee, and keep the charge of the tent of meeting, whatsoever the service of the Tent may be; but a common man shall not draw nigh unto you. 5 And ye shall keep the charge of the holy things, and the charge of the altar, that there be wrath no more upon the children of Israel.

This is the guard duty of the Leviim. I am sure that just as today we have deranged individuals, so too in Temple and Mishkan times there were always a few who wanted to break through or thought themselves Moshiach, Cohain Gadol, Moshe, etc.

 6 And I, behold, I have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel; for you they are given as a gift unto the LORD, to do the service of the tent of meeting. 7 And thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priesthood in everything that pertains to the altar, and to that within the veil; and ye shall serve; I give you the priesthood as a service of gift; and the common man that draws nigh shall be put to death.'

This was the finalization from HASHEM and the generation now would be calm for the rest of the time in the desert. This was now a time for learning both Torah and martial arts for an emerging nation. There was very little to do but to have the women and children graze the animals and the males learn Torah with some tent maintenance and tailoring of clothes for the newer generation. Food came from heaven it was a good scholarly life but the world was not created to be an academy but to make the mundane holy. This blissful generation would give way to the building generation. For tithes can only come from working men and other Mitzvos too. But for now a foundation had to be established.

… 21 And unto the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they serve, even the service of the tent of meeting. 22 And henceforth the children of Israel shall not come nigh the tent of meeting, lest they bear sin, and die. 23 But the Levites alone shall do the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, and among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 24 For the tithe of the children of Israel, which they set apart as a gift unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said unto them: Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.'

Now what gifts and payments did the Leviim get for their services?:

25 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 26 'Moreover thou shalt speak unto the Levites, and say unto them: When ye take of the children of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall set apart of it a gift for the LORD, even a tithe of the tithe. 27 And the gift which ye set apart shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshing-floor, and as the fullness of the wine-press. … 32 And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, seeing that ye have set apart from it the best thereof; and ye shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, that ye die not.'

The best and not as we do today as the crops are not given to the Leviim and Cohanim but just done symbolically.

Editorial ramblings from here and there

BREXIT is good for HASHEM and the salvation of mankind. For the Council of Foreign Relations is interested in a one world government. However, this is rebellion against HASHEM for after the Migdal Bavel (tower of Babel) the human race was dispersed and will not come under one rule until the Peace of the Moshiach at the end of days and not by artificial means made up by a few to rule the many.

There is no story this week other than a short diary of a vacationing Rabbi. HASHEM gave me the job of raising a Torah Genius and one will not see it probably until I am much closer to 120 years or long gone.

Of course I did have some fun, I met my Chavrutha from my Yeshiva after a Hiatus of 43 to 44 years when he visited Israel as a bachelor. We did meet briefly for a dinner a number of years ago but talking was only done on Shabbos. My friend, Lenny or as I called in the Yeshiva – Avraham Arieh, was interested in my next installment of my return to Judaism and my Yeshiva Days which has to be put off again but it would be almost a crime not to mention him and our coach Rabbi Aharon Vachss Shlita but that will have to wait.

I saw a few fellows whom I had not seen in 51 years since my High School days. I did come in before my wife and Menashe to conduct a first memorial service for my late friend Carl aka Chaim Zal. I made sure at the end to mention everything from the age of three until telling his soul to free his wife as he must rest under the glow of the Shechina now.

However, we learn from Avraham Avinu to say little and deliver a lot. I promised Menashe to show him New York. And that I did. My wife also found some husky boys clothing for him which we could not find in Borough Park or Israel.

This was a week that I did not sit down and teach English in theory to Menashe or even work on Mishnayos with him. I told him to read what he read. I took him to see the foot prints of the World Trade Center and the new Freedom Tower from the bottom (sorry but after being in an airplane I did not think in worth it to pay close to $100 for three people to ride up to the top. I am Rabbi Rachamim and not a multi-millionaire. I have to leave a few dollars, if they will be worth anything, for my children and grandchildren as my parents left me.

I believe in Torah and Avoda and the first thing I am doing in educating Menashe is to give him a well-rounded education like Rabbi-Engineer Menachem Mendel Shneersohn better known as the Rebbe or Dr. Rabbi Soloveitchik. These Torah Giants had a background in secular studies too.

I took Menashe to Staten Island on the ferry and he saw the Statue of Liberty as New Yorkers see her and my father’s family as they came to Ellis Island. (My mother’s side came in the 1850’s) We then went to Borough Park where I bought a suit and raincoat. Funny that most of the stores are selling now raincoats without a belt and only in Wallach did I find one with. I am heavy enough without looking like the hulk. At least the belt separates the head from the heart and gives me figure. In Borough Park we did not find the right shirt for Menashe’s husky size.  

The next day we went to Menashe’s hobby ancient Egypt at the Museum of Art. There we saw only a little of ancient Greece and Egypt but Menashe had in his Genius learned to read from the Wikipedia some hieroglyphics and was telling us things that only an expert could know.

We took him to see the planetarium and the museum of Natural History. We had to skip places or tell him to look at the floor in certain spots which is also why I will not bring the child to Yad Vashem but only other Holocaust Museums for some of the photos are not modest. He was not impressed too much by the geology and the planetarium lacked the inspiration of simple star observance of the night sky which had brought me to being a worker on the meteor project at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Nobody speaks to Spica or arches to Arcturus anymore. Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Perseus and Cetus are only stories from Yafo and not part of the northern sky.

We still have one more Museum of the State of New York in Albany to do and Saratoga Springs.

The raid on the Entebbe Airport 40 years later as told my commandos part 1:,7340,L-4815198,00.html to part 5,7340,L-4821032,00.html

Transgender fools Rabbis but it will not happen again.

Inyanay Diyoma

Plan to put 100 Hamas in one tunnels to run and terrorize Israel:

IDF can now hit targets with long range artillery missiles close to 100 miles away with near pinpoint accuracy.,7340,L-4821387,00.html

From Judith: 1917 the promise and the turncoat of the brits.

Ed-Op by Daniel Pinner on the Arab Knesset Member who runs amok:

Ed-Op by Barry Shaw: There is blood on the wall:

9 Israeli Arabs who get paid by European Anti-Semites to stir up troubled wanted to eat their Trafe Breakfast in Ramallah. They had to be rescued from their loving Arabs that they support:

Color red in south Israel from Gaza on Wednesday.

2 injured in terror attack in Netanya by terrorist who was disguised as a religious Jew.

Have a good Shabbos rest,

Rachamim Pauli