Illuminations #122, Tamuz 5777, Parshat Korach

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Illuminations #122, Tamuz 5777, Parshat Korach


Torah Gems

Korach tried to arouse others to rebel against Moshe. He protested that Moshe was taking too much glory and power for himself and his brother Aharon. “The whole congregation is holy and G-d is among them,” said Korach. He tried to give them the impression that he was interested in equality and the welfare of the entire nation. But Rashi cites the Midrash Tanchuma in which it is explained that Korach rebelled against Moshe because he was jealous of the prince-ship of Elitzofon, the son of Uzziel. Moshe had appointed Elitzofon over the family of K’hos by the command of the Almighty. Korach, however, said, “My father was one of four sons. Amram was the first born and his two sons (Moshe and Aharon) received high office. One is a king and the other a High Priest. On whose shoulders should the next honor devolve? Surely it is I, the son of Yitzhor, who is second to Amram. Yet Moshe appointed Elitzofon as prince of the family K’hos, even though he stemmed from a younger brother. Therefore I will rebel against him and nullify his words.”

From here we see a fundamental principle that applies to many disputes. Quite often the person who instigates a dispute is motivated by the desire for personal gain. In order to attract followers, however, he claims that he is interested in the good of others. A person should be aware of this tendency so that he will not be misled by people who desire to create a dispute.

-Adapted from Love your Neighbor.

Parsha Pearls

“I have not taken a donkey from any one of them” (Bamidbar 16:15)

Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, founder of Yeshivas Torah Voda’ath in the United States, was always careful never to use any of the Yeshiva’s money for his personal salary. He would even constrict his legitimate traveling expenses, though he had every justification for doing otherwise. Outsiders were amazed to see Rav Shraga Feivel going from door to door collecting donations for the yeshivah. Walking around with tens of thousands of dollars in cash and checks for the yeshivah, he refused to heed an acquaintance’s suggestion that he return home by taxi after his wearying exertions. There were occasions, in times of need, when Rav Shraga Feivel did use a taxi but he always paid the fare out of his own pocket. He did not ask the office to refund his traveling expenses incurred on the yeshivah’s behalf. Moshe Rabeinu’s words – “I have not taken a donkey from any one of them” – danced constantly before Rav Shraga Feivel’s inner eye.

Glimpses of Greatness

Rebbetzin Shach once told someone: “When my husband and I were chassan and Kallah, we made an agreement: If and when we would disagree, the first time he would be mevater in my favor, the second time I would be mevater… and so it would rotate between the two of us. However, I must tell you that after all these years, my turn has yet to come, because he always insists on being mevater!”

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it permitted to use an answering machine on Shabbat?

A.Is it permitted to use an answering machine on Shabbat with a message asking  the caller to leave their phone number, and after Shabbat return their call? Minchat Yitzchak (5-14, R. Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss, Z”L) holds that it is prohibited because a person is intending his work for the day of Shabbat, and also because of maarit Ayin, the appearance that he is working on Shabbat. Further, to have a message instructing the caller to leave his name may be considered causing the melacha (prohibited type of work on Shabbat) of writing. There is also reason to argue that it is amira leAkim, speaking to a non-Jew to do something prohibited for a Jew on Shabbat, for the needs of a Jew. Chelkat Yaakov (3-94,R. Yaakov Mordechai Breish, Z”L) holds that one will appear to ‘cheapen’   the holiness of Shabbat, and this may lead to a great desecration of Shabbat and is prohibited because of the appearance of doing something improper (maarit Ayin).

However, the Chatam Sofer (Orech Chaim  60) permits  one to reveal one‘s intention [to a non-Jew] for the sake of the needs of both the Jew and Non-Jew before Shabbat; all the mores so through the medium of a machine. Even so, the Shulchan Aruch Harav (307-5, Baal HaTanya) regards hinting (to a non-Jew) before Shabbat as permitted as long as it is accomplished in a manner that the work is not done with the possessions of a Jew, and the non-Jew does not hire them from a Jew.  But if it is possible to answer on the answering machine that the place of business is closed, there is no prohibition because nothing is accomplished with his own resources.