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Korach

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL


Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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PARSHA
FACTS

NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 9
5 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
4 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 95

NUMBER OF WORDS: 1409

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 5325

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Shmuel I / I Samuel
11:14 -12:22

This week we study Chapter 4 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"


פרשת קרח
THE
PARSHA
In our last episode the spy conspiracy let loose the Lashon Horah and pushed back the grand entry into Eretz Yisroel by 40 years.

ANOTHER
REBELLION

As our Parsha opens, a new rebellion is on the horizon and this time Moshe himself is the target.

Here's how it happens:

Moshe has a first cousin named Korach. Korach is one of the members of the Kehat clan. It is his job to carry the Aron (Ark). He is also the lead singer in the Levi choir and a very rich man. But Korach isn't happy. There are six people with greater positions than his: Aharon, Moshe, Eliezer, Itamar, Nachshon ben Aminadav and Eltzafan.

Since he is Moshe's first cousin, the son of Yitzhar, Moshe's father's brother, he feels he should rank up there with Moshe. Korach decides to take some action. He turns to Shevet (tribe) Reuven for support. Korach knows where to hit and how to hit hard.

The first-born of every family was originally supposed to serve in the Mishkan. After the golden calf incident, that rite was transferred to the Leviyim, who did not participate in this terrible sin. Korach claims that Moshe, himself, planned all along to transfer the rites of the firstborn to the Leviyim. In addition, Moshe played favorites by giving his own group of Leviyim, Kehat, all the best honors: Kohain Gadol, Kohanim, Mishkan workers, carriers of the major utensils - everything! The rest of Bnei Yisroel is cut out of the deal and somebody's got to do something about it! Korach convinces 250 people to join his rebellion. This includes the Nesiyim (Princes) of Reuven and another man from that Shevet named "On." Once Korach's rebellion begins, two dastardly villians from the past, Datan and Aviram, also join in the fun.

"If you really think you can be Kohanim, then bring pans of Ketoret - incense - to the Mishkan tomorrow. We will see if Hashem accepts your offerings, or will you be punished and die!?"

Next, Moshe turns his attention to Datan and Aviram, considered leaders of the rebellion in their own right. He sends messengers to them and orders the two to appear before him and the Sanhedrin. They refuse to do so, and send back a message that Moshe broke his promise. Instead of leading the people to a "Land of Milk and Honey" he has condemned a generation to die in the desert.

Moshe's a very sensitive person and takes the charges personally. He davens (prays) to Hashem and reminds Hashem about how he never asked to be the leader. Meanwhile, Korach spends the night convincing the Bnei Yisroel that he is doing it for the nation, not just for himself. In the end, there is a lot of confusion in the camp and by morning the whole nation gathers to witness the challenge for the Kehuna at the Mishkan.

Hashem sees the doubt that has spread throughout Bnei Yisroel and threatens Moshe that He will destroy them all. But Moshe assures Hashem that Korach is the real rebel and it is Korach who has rallied the others. Only Korach and his close followers should be held responsible.


DOWN
IN THE
DUMPS

Hashem orders Moshe to clear an area around the family tents of Korach, Datan, and Aviram. Something terrible is about to happen. Moshe makes one last attempt to get Datan and Aviram to repent. But these two rebels are too stubborn. They won't even answer Moshe when he speaks!

Suddenly, the Earth splits open and swallows Datan and Aviram, their families, tents and possessions. At the same time, a heavenly fire burns Korach and his 250 followers who stand at the entrance of the Mishkan with their pans of Ketoret.

Korach is sucked into the hole, joining Datan and Aviram. The earth closes but the Bnei Yisroel can hear the victims. From the depths of Gehinom they finally understand the truth. In a song, they declare that Hashem is righteous and His judgement is correct, and that Moshe and the Torah are true. They also confess that they are evil for rebelling against Moshe.

The sons of Korach, however, are saved from death because at the last minute they did Teshuvah (repented) and sided with Moshe. They later establish a righteous family in Eretz Yisroel from who descended the Navi (Prophet) Samuel.


PAN
COVERS
FOR THE
MIZBAYACH

After the Korach fiasco is foiled, the incense pans litter the entrance to the Mishkan. Hashem commands Moshe to have Aharon's son Elazar gather them up. The problem is that since these pans have been used to offer Ketoret, they are holy, and cannot be discarded. Elazar is commanded to flatten out these pans and make a covering for the copper Mizbayach (Altar). This way the Jews will always remember that a non-Kohain is punished by Hashem if he tries to do the Avodah.

A NEW
COMPLAINT

The nation is confused by the new copper covering. They complain that these 250 men who died were great tzadikim - so they got a little carried away! But they are no Datan and Aviram. They claim that the incense challenge was a fix and Moshe knew that these men would die. Moshe still maintains that it was better to knock out these rebels than to have a nation of rebels.

Once again the Cloud of Glory appears, signifying the anger of Hashem. Hashem tells Moshe and Aharon that He's ready to wipe out the nation for this complaint. Once again, Moshe and Aharon fall on their faces to pray for the nation. But this time the words just won't come out!

It doesn't matter. Hashem doesn't want their prayers! The angel of death is waiting in the wings ready to strike! People become ill, some fall dead! Moshe has to think fast!

Here's what Moshe has in mind:

With all the death caused by the Ketoret offerings - if Aharon can use Ketoret to stop the plague, Ketoret will come out smelling like a rose. He orders Aharon to grab his pan of Ketoret and get a fire going. Then bring it into the camp of Bnei Yisroel. Just as he thought, the angel of death can't penetrate the smoke rising to heaven. The plague stops, but almost 15,000 people have already died.


THE PROOF
IS IN THE
FLOWER

Even so, the Bnei Yisroel are still not convinced that only Kohanim and Leviyim can serve in the Mishkan. They figure that Hashem punished Korach because he attacked the credibility of Moshe and Aharon.

Hashem wants to prove once and for all that only Shevet Levi can serve in the Mishkan. Hashem commands Moshe to take 12 dry wooden sticks and engrave the names of the twelve Nesiyim (Princes) on them. On Levi's stick Aharon's name is written. Moshe places the sticks before the Aron (ark) in the Kodesh HaKodoshim and leaves it there overnight.

In the morning all the sticks remain dry, but the stick of Shevet Levi, (the one with Aharon's name on it), has blossomed with flowers and almonds. Additionally, the four letter name of Hashem has miraculously been engraved in the stick of Levi.

Moshe brings the sticks to the Nesiyim. The Nesiyim bring them to the people of their tribes and all of Bnei Yisroel is convinced that Shevet Levi is the one and only tribe chosen to serve in the Mishkan.

Moshe is commanded to place the stick of Levi permanently in front of the Aron (ark) as a warning to any non-Levite who tries to do the Avodah. Hashem comands the Kohanim and Leviyim to guard the Mishkan and protect other Jews from accidentally performing the Avodah. This miraculous stick continued to blossom in its place until before the destruction of the Bait Hamikdash, when it was hidden by King Yoshiyahu together with the other holy objects of the Bait Hamikdash.


KOHANIM
GIFTS

Hashem promises the Kohanim 24 gifts that will be presented to them by the Jewish people. This promise is called the "Brit Melach," or "Covenant of Salt."

These gifts include portions of the Korbanot that the Kohanim get to keep, the Lechem Hapanim (Show Bread), the firstborn cattle, portions of a Jew's field, Challah and other portions.

Since the Kohanim have no portion of land, these gifts support them while they are dedicated to Hashem's service.


LEVITE
GIFTS

The Leviyim also have a pact with Hashem.

As a reward for their service to Hashem in guarding the Mishkan and performing other tasks assigned to them there and in the Bait Hamikdash, they are promised the gift of Ma'aser - 1/10 of a farmer's produce.

The Levi, in turn, gives 1/10 of this portion to the Kohain. This is called "Terumat Ma'aser".


Only a pure Kohain and a pure Levi can receive these portions.

What happens if a Kohain or Levi is tamay? How does he become pure?

Tune in next week when the red cow makes a purifying appearance in the next exciting episode of:

Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Maven on Korach


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