PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
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.
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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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"
| In our last
episode the spy conspiracy let loose the Lashon Horah and
pushed back the grand entry into Eretz Yisroel by 40 years.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
IS IN THE
| 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.
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.
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
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:
the Midrash Maven on Korach
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