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TorahAnytimes Newsletter Korach

Parshat Korach

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter

Parashat Korach                                                                                      Print Version
3rd of Tammuz, 5779 | July 6, 2019

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rabbi Label Lam 
Weekly Accomplishments

Close to ten years ago, I began something with my family every Friday night that I have continued to this very day. It is a rather simple exercise and process, yet a rewarding and enriching experience. My only regret is that I did not think of this idea sooner.

As my family and guests sit down to the Shabbos table, I ask the following question: “What did you do this week that gave you a feeling of accomplishment?” We then proceed to go around the table and have each person share something. The answers and ideas we have told and heard over the years have been greatly inspiring at times.

For example, one of my kids said, “I studied hard for a test.” Personally, in my family, after each person shares something, we sing a little chanting song, as if we were applauding. Another said, “I received extra change in a store, and I chose to give it back instead of walk out and keep it.” We chanted and cheered for that too. This continues, until we have gone all around the table and everyone has had a chance to share one weekly accomplishment.

Everyone has something to say that is personalized, speaks to them and fits to where they are in life. I once has three boys over, and one said, “I had a nice conversation with my mother.” We broke out in song. Another answered, “I finished the entire Sefer Tehillim this week.” The third boy piped up, “I made it to davening in the morning three times this week.” When a person can express their accomplishments and reflect aloud, they are able to value what they have done and look towards what other progresses they would like to make.

It is an incredibly valuable and Shabbos table enhancing idea to run with. Enjoy the process.

Rabbi Paysach Krohn 
The Raffle Tickets

A number of summers ago at Camp Romimu, my son-in-law, Rabbi Shlomo Dovid Pfeiffer, the learning director, along with his assistant, came up with an idea. They realized that camp on Shabbos presented a unique challenge. What can the kids do all day if they are not playing sports, swimming or taking a trip? 
And so, they came up with the idea that they would give the kids one raffle ticket for every half-hour of learning they completed.

During the middle of the summer, a set of two prizes would be raffled off, and at the end of the summer, another set of two prizes would be raffled off. What were the two prizes?

The boy with the winning raffle ticket would have the opportunity to drive a golf cart during one day of camp. They could go all over the camp, and take whomever they wanted along for the ride. Many kids were excited to hear about this, though it didn’t come close to the other prize, of which many kids specifically from Antwerp, Belgium, were thrilled to hear about: two hours of horseback riding.

One particular boy from Antwerp jumped up with excitement, exhilarated to hear about this winning option. But all the other boys realized that it was not his wish to win the prize that would go anywhere; he would actually need to have the winning raffle ticket. They figured that he would nonetheless put in many hours of learning, which he certainly did.

The night the camp held the raffle, lo and behold, this boy from Antwerp won. No one could believe it. He wanted to win and he did! After the raffle concluded and the boys settled down, Rabbi Shlomo Pfeiffer, the head counselor, told them all the following secret.

“First of all,” he began, “you should all feel proud for learning diligently every Shabbos. You earned all together hundreds of raffle tickets. But now let me tell you a secret. This 5th grade ten-year-old boy from Antwerp was surrounded by an amazing group of friends. Every raffle ticket which the boys in his bunk earned, they wrote his name on it and submitted it to the raffle.”

Of course, when the time for the raffle came, this boy had over a hundred raffle tickets, and the likelihood of him winning was largely in his favor.

What a beautiful demonstration of unity and caring for a fellow friend.

Rabbi Yaacov Haber 
Down to Earth

In this week’s Parsha, we learn of how Korach mounted a rebellion against the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu. What though was Korach thinking? Did he genuinely believe that he would succeed in his mutiny against the holiest man who had led the Jewish people thus far in their travels out of Egypt and in the desert?

Korach did not view Moshe Rabbeinu as anything but the holiest man on earth. He did in fact hold Moshe in the highest regard and believed that he held a unique position as the one who directly communicated with Hashem on Har Sinai.

But that was Korach’s very point. “Moshe,” said Korach, “your spiritual level is way above that of the people. You belong on Har Sinai communicating with Hashem, and not down here with the Jewish people! You belong in the Heavens, advocating on behalf of the Jewish people, but not leading them in this world where you must deal with the mundanities of life. Here, you must oversee the workings of the tribes, the functions of the Mishkan and adjudicate the people. Moshe, that is not for you!” With this argument, Korach received support.

But why was Korach wrong?

Korach made a mistake because the exact kedusha (holiness) which Moshe absorbed and ingrained while at Har Sinai needed to be imbued and breathed into the lives of the Jewish people on earth. From the highest, most spiritual experience to the simplest, earthiest matter on earth, the Torah applies. The Torah is to be lived with all its holiness here on earth. There is no other point if the Torah and Moshe’s teachings do not inform all the people how to live and face all the aspects of life on earth.

This is why Korach was not coincidentally swallowed by the earth. It was to repay him for the misnomer that Moshe and his Torah guidance belongs up in the Heavens on not on earth. The very earth which Korach discounted as being unsuitable for Moshe’s leadership is what consumed Korach.

In light of this, we can appreciate the words we recite in Shema. Hashem has two names which are referenced often. His four-letter Ineffable Name, which speaks to the ultimate Name of G-d, and Elokeinu, which emphasizes Hashem’s presence and dominion over nature and the physical world. We say, “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu…” We understand that G-d is Hashem, the highest and most spiritually sublime, but we also know that G-d is Elokeinu, He comes down to earth and is present in even the earthiest of life experiences. Everything we do and say, how we live, what our houses and cars are like, and what we wear and how we walk. It is all one. Our physical life and spiritual life are not on two distinct planes; they merge and are all one.

Rabbi David Ashear 
She’s in the Car

One student, Moshe, learning in yeshiva under Rabbi Reuven Elbaz had become religious later in life and was now thriving and growing into a learned young man. Eventually, he decided to begin looking to get married.

Moshe proceeded to go on some dates, which went very well, to the point that he anticipated getting engaged in just a few days. But then he received a phone call from the girl. She decided to call off the anticipated engagement, to Moshe’s sudden surprise and shock. Heading over to Rabbi Elbaz, Moshe caught him up with the latest news. “I’m think I’m going to go the Kotel right now to talk to Hashem and get myself back on my feet.”

Moshe proceeded to head to the bus stop, when suddenly a car pulled up, asking for directions to the Kotel. “I’ll tell you what,” said Moshe. “I’m going myself to the Kotel now. If you can give me a ride, I will happily be able to provide you directions as how to get there.” The driver accepted the offer, and with that, they took off.

The driver, a religious man himself, engaged Moshe in conversation, which turned into a talk about various Torah topics. The man was very impressed with Moshe’s knowledge and character and was thoroughly happy that he had the chance to meet him and spend time together.

In the back seat of the car was the man’s wife and sister-in-law. Upon arriving at the Kotel, the wife walked over to Moshe and politely inquired if he was looking to date anyone at the time. Moshe, just having ended one relationship, hesitated, but didn’t turn down the idea. “Would you consider going out with my sister?” Moshe, optimistic and willing to meet her, accepted the offer and went out with her.

That couple went on to get married, and all Moshe could say later was, “I can never believe that I even considered the other girl! My wife is so much more suitable for me in every area I can think of. Baruch Hashem!”

It was the previous break-up itself that led to Moshe’s marriage. His future wife was sitting with him in the car on the way to the Kotel. At times, we don’t know when and where our life will take a turn, but we can rest assured in our trust in Hashem that something will come our way.

Rabbi Sinai Yakobian 
Learn How to Shoot

The year was 1910 and a young man from a religious family was drafted into the Russian army. Concerned about his welfare, the entire family began thinking of ways he could avoid the draft, but nothing materialized. Finally, with all options running out, the boy’s parents decided to visit the Chofetz Chaim and seek his advice and blessing.

Upon arriving in Radin, where the Chofetz Chaim lived, they made their way inside and recounted the situation their son was facing. The Chofetz Chaim looked at the parents and said, “What’s the problem if your son learns how to shoot a gun?” The parents couldn’t believe what they had just heard. “Rebbe,” they said, “this is the Russian army…!” But the Chofetz Chaim had nothing to say but reiterate his previous words. “What’s the problem if your son learns how to shoot a gun?” The Chofetz Chaim had nothing more to say, and sent the parents on their way without even a blessing for their son’s survival and success. Without any explanation, the parents went home and did nothing more.

The son eventually went on to get drafted and serve time in the Russian army, during which he learned how to shoot a gun. With G-d’s help, he survived the war while remaining religious, and went on to get married.

Unfortunately, World War II soon broke out, and he and a group of his friends were forced to escape to the woods and hide. While there, they met up with a group of Jews, who were hesitant to allow anyone to join them, for fear of getting caught. But the young man had something to offer.

“I know how to shoot a gun,” he said, “and I can train you all to do the same.” Indeed, that was what happened. The man taught the other members how to be prepared to defend themselves, and they went on to survive the war.

And then the man understood the words of the Chofetz Chaim. “What’s the problem if your son learns how to shoot a gun?” 

For us all, while we may not know why we must go through some experience in life, later on down the line, we may come to understand. Just hold tight and trust G-d. He knows what He is doing.

Rabbi YY Jacobson 
Throw it into the Ocean

I was once in Melbourne, Australia, planning to deliver a series of lectures. After landing in the airport, I was taken to the home of one of the prominent and senior leaders of the community, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner z”l. Rabbi Groner had founded dozens of educational institutions and sustained them over many decades.

During the course of our conversation, he disclosed to me that he used to struggle with depression. On one occasion, he visited New York and had an audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Before departing the office, the Rebbe told him, “As you travel back from New York to Australia, you are going to fly over the Pacific Ocean. Take your depression and throw it into the ocean.”

Rabbi Groner went on to say, “As the Rebbe said that, I was moved. I understood it and it had a powerful impact on me. On the surface, it seemed like a cute and charming thing to say. Was I supposed to open the window of the airplane and throw my depression away? Is depression a bag that you just throw out? But I internalized it as a profound lesson in life, and personally as a way for me to view my depression.

“Our struggles and insecurities are not who we are. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are not who we are. They are what we say we are, but those are just words. Our fears, negative thoughts, predictions about our future and our internal self-talk do not constitute the truth of our core being. They are akin to an extra suitcase in our mind, and we all know that you don’t want to take extra luggage when traveling.

“We would be wise to tell ourselves, ‘I do depression,’ instead of telling ourselves, ‘I am depressed.’ For in truth, these realities and experiences are what we do, not who we are.

“What must be done is throw the suitcase out of the window and discard it, and focus on choosing the life based on who we really are. And certainly, the Pacific Ocean is big enough to hold all of our problems.”

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