Illuminations #212, Tammuz, 5779, Parshat Korach

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Illuminations #212, Tammuz, 5779, Parshat Korach

Torah Gems

“It shall be that the man whom I shall choose – his staff will blossom” (Bamidbar 17:20). The tragic episode of the rebellion of Korach did not end with the demise of Korach and his men. The people still felt they needed a sign to validate and prove that Aharon was the one chosen to be the Kohen Gadol. Moshe declared that each tribe will submit a wooden staff with the name of the Nasi inscribed into the wood. The test would be that the staff that miraculously blossomed and grew fruit would be the staff of the chosen one. We say “miraculously” because the staff would be a dry piece of wood not rooted in the ground. The staff of Aharon blossomed, which proved he was the chosen one. Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Bloch says that there is an important message here. In general, a piece of wood will grow and blossom if it is rooted in the earth. If it is not, it will not grow anything. A staff of wood not connected is like a person who is not rooted in any country, a wandering Jew. However, if a man is connected to the holiness of the Torah and to the spirit of Hashem which is the real the source of life, he can be fruitful even without roots and without land. This is the symbolic significance of the staff of Aharon. A righteous Jew can be happy and successful even without a land and without roots. Today we feel rooted and secure if we have a home and a secure job. Without them we get confused, flustered and depressed. If we can get ourselves more connected to Hashem and His Torah, we would not need any other things to make us feel secure and help us flourish.

Parsha Pearls

“And they gathered against Moshe and Aharon and they said to them, ‘You have taken too much power for yourselves. The entire congregation is holy, and Hashem is in their midst. Why do you take leadership over the congregation of Hashem?'” (Bamidbar 16:3). The Kotzker Rebbe commented that people who quarrel with the righteous try to find complaints in ways that are the exact opposite of truth. Moshe was the most humble of men, and Aharon’s relationship with others was always to pursue peace, which takes much humility. Nevertheless, this did not stop Korach and his followers from claiming that Moshe and Aharon were acting arrogantly and were taking too much power for themselves. This is an important lesson in our being careful not to believe Lashon Hara. Some people think that if someone is critical of another person, what is said must have at least some truth to it. No! People can have the audacity to find fault with others even though the person excels in the exact traits that are being referred to. Here the motive of Korach was personal envy and he was projecting his own drive for power onto Moshe. Remember that the Sages say that when a person finds fault with others he frequently is just mentioning his own faults which he can wrongly assume someone else has. Be very careful not to accept negative information about others as the truth without a careful examination. (Growth through Torah)

Glimpses of Greatness

Rabbi Yisrael Najara, a contemporary in 16th century Tsfat of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the holy Arizal, liked to walk in the river-valley below the town. There he would compose the tunes and songs through which he expressed his love and awe for Hashem. Once, he was set upon by a band of Arab ruffians, who upon discovering that their captive had neither money nor wealthy relatives who would pay a ransom, promptly decided to kill him. Begrudgingly, they consented to his request to be allowed to say his final prayers and play one last tune. As he played his flute, the donkeys and camels of the thieves rose on their hind legs and began to shuffle, as if dancing to the music. The robbers became terrified at the sight and fled. Rabbi Najara, meanwhile, had become so absorbed in his music that he was oblivious to what was happening around him. Strolling back towards Tsfat, he continued to play his flute. The townspeople stood mesmerized as he entered the city, followed by a procession of dancing donkeys and camels!


Halacha Weekly

Q. Can one use rolls prepared  for the sake of non-Jews in a Hotel on Shabbat? [II-17-384]

A. If one is staying in a hotel on Shabbat, is it permitted to use kosher bread prepared for the sake of the guests in the hotel if the majority of the guests are not Jewish?  Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim, 325-200)  writes regarding bread baked by a non-Jew for his own use on Shabbat that there are those opinions who forbid eating it, and those who permit it when it occurs in a time of pressing need, or for the sake of a mitzvah etc., or for the sake of saying the blessing hamotzi (on bread). There is a basis to rely on those opinions that are lenient in these situations.

However, Kaf Hachaim (Orech Chaim, 325-35, R. Yaakov Chaim Sofer Z”L) writes that since it is for the need of meals …this would not be a matter of pressing need, and one should not be lenient. Chayei Adam (Chlal 63-3, R. Avraham Danzig Z”L) writes that in a situation of pressing need one may be lenient. Zivcheh Tzedek (2-Orech Chaim 21 Chidushot 84, Avraham Yosef Somech Z”L) writes that the simple custom in his city of Baghdad is to be lenient to take from a non-Jew hot bread that is cooked on Shabbat. The Maran Shulchan Aruch was not lenient except in a time of pressing need. Although perhaps this could be considered a situation of pressing need, nevertheless, one who fears Heaven should be stringent on himself.