Korach: No Status Quo

Another episode of conflict, I presume? The parshah may bear the name of Korach, but we cannot...

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Sometimes we have to cry in order to feel sad.

It has been noted that the laws of national mourning for the Beis HaMikdash are patterned after the personal aveilus that one observes for the loss of a relative (lo aleinu). The restrictions of The Three Weeks are the same that a mourner observes during the 12 months after losing a parent: no haircuts, music, or weddings. Beginning with The Nine Days, we take on the national version of Shloshim: no laundry, cutting nails, or bathing. Lastly, the mourning of Tish’ah B’Av itself has the status of Shiv’ah: no leather shoes, Torah study, or sitting on chairs.

Sometimes we outgrow our mitzvos.

While there is a wide range of opinions regarding the exact sin of Moshe Rabbeinu at Mei M’rivah, most of us were taught that Moshe extracted water by hitting the rock, instead of speaking to it as Hashem had commanded (Rashi, BaMidbar 20:11-12).

In education, we need to play the long game.

One of the many topics in the parshah is B’nos Tz’lafchad’s request for independent land in Eretz Yisrael. The story is introduced with a detailed identification of these women, and their lineage is traced all the way back to not only Menashe (the founder of the tribe), but their ancestor, Yosef (BaMidbar 27:1). It is unusual for the Torah to include so much background information, especially since the full genealogy of Yosef – including the daughters of Tz’lafchad themselves – was listed just one chapter earlier (ibid. 26:28-33).

Another episode of conflict, I presume?

The parshah may bear the name of Korach, but we cannot forget the volatile role of Dasan and Aviram, the troublemakers who jumped at any opportunity to disrespect Moshe and challenge his authority. In fact, it is possible that they were the true instigators behind Korach and the entire rebellion (see Ohr HaChayim, BaMidbar 26:9)!

Sometimes we need to brake and reverse before we accelerate.

It is troubling to think that Hashem could have ever conferred His presence on Bil’am, who, as the narrative makes clear, was of deplorable character. His greed, stubbornness, and negativity are all overwhelmingly featured as he deceives Balak and tries to outwit Hashem. Why did Hashem select such a reprehensible person to be a navi?

Sh’lach: Don’t Tell Me What to Do!

Sefer BaMidbar is filled with one tragic mistake after another. This week’s disaster is the episode of the spies who convinced B’nei Yisrael to reject Eretz Yisrael. Despite Hashem’s promises that He would safely lead the people into the Land, the m’raglim scared the nation with an evil report, replete with lies that Hashem was not capable of conquering the native giants. Considering that Hashem had taken the Jews out of Egypt for the express purpose of immigrating to Israel, the people’s refusal to march onward marked not only a rejection of Eretz Yisrael, but of G-d Himself. Consequently, Hashem declared that the current generation would not be allowed to enter the Land they had scorned.