Parshas Korach ~ Torah Gems

This shiur has been dedicated in honor of:   The upcoming marriage of Zahava Klein to Yoseph Shachna Gottlieb                           ————– L’ilui Nishmas HaRav HaKodosh Rebbe Menachem Mendel ben Levi Yitzchok   Zeichor Tzaddik v’Kadosh l’Varachah                           ————–

                         by Mr and Mrs Yehuda Klein


I. Who is a leader?

1. ‘And the man who HaShem* will choose, he is the holy one.’ (Bamidbar* 16.7) My grandfather [Rebbe* Chaim of Tzanz] said that the mistake of Korach was that he wanted to be a Rebbe. [Not only that but] he wanted that in Heaven they should agree to this. He found support for this [idea, that from heaven they should agree,] from what it says in the Talmud* [with regards to the setting of the first day of the new

month even if done in error.] ‘Even if done by mistake, Even if done on purpose’ Therefore [Korach said to himself] ‘I will take the 250 heads of the Sanhedrin* to be my Chasidim, and perforce from heaven they will agree to me.’ For this reason Moshe Rabbeinu* answered him, ‘The man who HaShem will choose, he is the holy one.’ The idea of a ‘Rebbe’ is not one that depends on a drash* from Chazal*. A Rebbe cannot be anyone except the one who HaSHem chooses and not a Rebbe chosen by the Chasidim. (p. 22 sefer Chemdah Genuza teachings of Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz that were recorded by his grandson Rebbe Sinai of Zmigid.)

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II. Who can praise

2. ‘The Tzaddik will bloom like a palm tree… Planted in the house of HaShem, in the courtyard of G-d he will bloom.’ (Tehillim* 92.13-14) It is taught in the sefer Lekutei Torah [from the Arizal*] that the last letters of the words, ‘The Tzaddik will bloom like a palm tree’ [Heb. Tzaddik k’tamar yifroch] spells out the word ‘Korach.’ [The meaning is] that in the future he will bloom, [which will happen] in the days of the prophet Shmuel, who came from the descendants of Korach. (Until here are his words.) This verse in Tehillim is difficult to understand because it relates the qualities of the Tzaddik, but not in the proper order. First it says, ‘Planted in the house of HaShem.’ Then it says, ‘In the courtyard of G-d he will bloom.’ Shouldn’t the courtyard, which leads into a house, come first? We can explain this according to what appears in the Talmud. ‘Navuchadnetzer prayed in his songs that all the songs that David said in Tehillim should be praised. An angel came and struck him on his mouth.” It is difficult to understand in what way would he be able to praise the songs of David. Many had sung them and they did not praise them. We can explain this according to what Chazal say in the Talmud, ‘In the place where a Baal Tshuva* stands even a complete Tzaddik is not able to stand.’ The meaning is that a Baal Tshuva, through his tshuva*, is able to cause the souls of Israel that are on a very low level to be raised up. This is something a complete Tzaddik is not able to do.  For this reason Navuchadnetzer desired to praise the songs of David, since he was a Baal Tshuva. We then have a question, why is it that the angel struck him on his mouth? [It would appear that what he was doing was praiseworthy.] However we can say that only when the person’s soul comes from the source of the Jewish souls. Then if he should sin and later do tshuva HaShem will accept him. However if his soul has it’s source in the source of uncleanliness [then he cannot.] Therefore the angel came and struck him on his mouth [as he was unclean and not worthy to praise David.]

This is then the reason the verse:

‘The Tzaddik will bloom like a palm tree’ is a remez* for Korach and the idea that he will eventually find rectification for his soul. The verse explains the reason:  ‘Planted in the house of HaShem.’ The reason is because his soul has a holy source. It was planted in the house of HaShem. [It is one of those from the source of the souls of Israel.]

For this reason, ‘In the courtyard of G-d it will bloom.’ Little by little it will find rectification, from one level to another. Until ‘it will be fruitful in it’s old age.’ (p. 47 sefer Divrei Yechezkel. Teachings of Rebbe Yechezkel Shraga of Shinov, a son of the Tzanzer Rov*.)

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III. Power of the Torah*

3. ‘All of Israel that surrounded them fled at their sound.’ (Bamidbar 16.34) We can explain the intention as follows. They fled [i.e. all the evil things that attempt to attack Israel] because of their voice. [i.e. the voice of Israel] This is, ‘The voice is the voice of Yakov’ which refers to the [voice of their] learning Torah. The reason is that the Torah protects and saves [those that learn it] from all manner of suffering and punishment. (p. 34 vol 3 #8 Kerem Shlomoh a journal of Torah and Chassidus. This teaching is from Rebbe Aharon of Tzanz, the son of Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz.)                                 * * * IV. Using both eyes 4. ‘And Korach separated…’ (Bamidbar 16.1) Rashi* says, ‘Korach was a wise person, so what did he see that made him act so foolishly. His eyes [lit. his eye] caused him to stray.’ I heard in the name of the Holy Rebbe Boruch of Gorlitz Z’L [a son of Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz.] The error of Korach was that he only considered ‘one eye’; that of observing the greatness of HaShem. But

he did not considered the other ‘eye’, of observing his own lowliness. [There is a famous teaching of the Rebbe Reb* Zushya that everyone has two eyes, one to see the greatness of HaShem, the other to see his own lowliness.] ‘His eye caused him to stray’ means the one eye [that he used.] (p. 47 sefer Ateres Chaim a collection of teachings of Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz and his descendants.)

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V. Moshe’s humility

5. ‘Moshe heard and he fell on his face.’ (Bamidbar 16.1) In the sefer Or HaChaim* is asks why does the verse need to say that ‘He heard.’ The verse already said that ‘They said to them.’ [i.e. Moshe and Aharon] Would one every imagine that he didn’t hear? Also we need to understand what Moshe answered to them. ‘In the morning HaShem will make known who is His.’ Why does he associate the answer with the early morning”

The whole complaint of Korach was that all of the greatness and honor that Moshe merited to achieve was because of Israel. That is what he meant when he said, ‘The whole congregation are all holy, and HaShem is among them.’ HaShem rests among them specifically because of their holiness. It was only because of them and their merits that Moshe achieved his greatness. Moshe also thought this way. [He felt that he had achieved his status due to the merits of the Jewish people.] ‘And the man Moshe was very humble’ and he held that his greatness came to him ‘from all the people that are on the face of the earth.’ i.e. Because of Israel. That is why it says, ‘And Moshe heard.’ That means he also agreed with what Korach said. For that reason he fell on his face, because he did not have what to answer.  (p. 190 sefer Kedushas Tzion.  Teachings of Rebbe Ben Zion of Bobov, great-grandson of the Tzanzer Rov.)



Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok    Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as    Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant    sinner.
Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages    of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical    meaning to verses in the Torah.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their   higher spiritual stature.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the   Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud                  2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.

sefer (seforim): A Jewish religious book.

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible    b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law    c. also common term for a chassidic teaching

Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ([email protected]) All rights reserved.

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