Skip to content


TorahAnytimes Newsletter Korach

Parshat Korach

Compiled and Edited by Torah Time

"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter Parashat Korach 3rd of Tammuz, 5776 | July 9, 2016 Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik Rebbetzin Shira Smiles Th


"The TorahAnyTimes" Newsletter    Print Version

Parashat Korach
3rd of Tammuz, 5776 | July 9, 2016

Compiled and Edited by Elan Perchik

Rebbetzin Shira Smiles
The Neshama in the Supermarket

ויבא משה ואהרן אל פני אהל מועד

Moshe and Aharon came to the Tent of Meeting (Bamidbar 17:8)

Considering the fact that most supermarkets in Israel tend to have very narrow, packed aisles, it is quite a relief to walk into a spacious store where there is easy accessibility to all of one’s needs. It makes shopping all the more pleasant when you don’t have to anxiously maneuver your way around worrying that someone or something will be knocked over.

I was therefore extremely excited when a friend of mine one day told me, “There is a great store in the Beit Shemesh area with wide aisles. It is in fact so spacious that you can pass by someone else walking in the opposite direction with a cart.”

Very excited to hear about this, I headed to the store with my daughter. Grabbing a cart, we started making our way around. However, I was soon to discover a small detail that my friend was remiss in telling me about. The store carried just about every item you could imagine. Food, clothes, household items and more. It was overwhelming to the point that I could not handle it. All I wanted were a few items, and here I was surrounded by an innumerable amount of other amenities I had no interest in.

Turning to my daughter, I said, “I’m not doing too well. There is just too much to choose from. I think we should leave.” And indeed, we left.

As we were walking out of the store, my daughter said to me, “You know Ima, this is a very good experience for you.” “Oh, really now?” I said. “Yes. Now you know how your neshama feels every day when it enters your body. All it yearns to do is the will of Hashem and learn Torah and perform mitzvot. However, not before long, it becomes distracted from fulfilling its true calling and mission. Ensconced in a world with so many pulls in so many directions, it becomes overwhelmed and faces the risk of floundering. The uneasiness you were feeling in this store is exactly the same way your neshama feels when it comes into this world and must overcome the many challenges life presents it with. Now you know how your neshama feels.”

We would be wise to closely listen to this ever-important lesson. Living in an age where distractions are rampant and the demands of life present many daily challenges, we must always remember that we have a higher calling. Our beautiful neshama only desires to carry out its intended mission in this world and nourish itself with spirituality. And while the challenges we face may be intimidating and overwhelming, we all possess the inner conviction to stand up strongly during those trying moments and carry out that which our neshama truly yearns to do.

Mrs. Rivka Malka Perlman
The Erev Shabbat Frenzy

בזאת תדעון כי ד' שלחני לעשות את כל המעשים האלה...

Through this you shall know that Hashem sent me to perform all these acts… (Bamidbar 16:28)

Around a month and a half before Pesach this past year, I began having some plumbing problems in my house. A number of pipes burst underground and flooded our basement. Being that this happened on Friday just hours before Shabbat, my entire family was in a frenzy. We did not have any water and we all still needed to take showers and ready ourselves for Shabbat. That was besides the fact that my kitchen was a mess because I had to stop in the middle of cooking. But considering that nothing could be done at the moment, we headed to the JCC to take showers as I quickly piled up the dirty dishes as best as I could.

Despite the craziness which pervaded our home on Erev Shabbat, Shabbat itself was peaceful and beautiful. But that was not the end of the plumbing problems.

Three weeks later, our water heater broke. It was Friday afternoon again, and all of a sudden, our basement was soaking wet. Luckily, my husband placed some bricks on the ground and piled our Pesach dishes on top preventing them from becoming water damaged; but things did not go too smoothly otherwise. And so, once again, we entered Shabbat without hot water in our home and managed as best as we could.

Later that Shabbat, I came across a story which Mrs. Sara Yocheved Rigler wrote about herself. She tells about the time she once noticed a rat in her house, yet could not get rid of it. Whatever she tried to do was to no avail. The rat had found a home of its own and had no plan of leaving any time soon. Unsure what to do, Mrs. Rigler decided that she would visit Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt”l and ask if there was any possible reason why this rat persisted to remain in her home.

After hearing the circumstances of the rat, Rav Scheinberg said, “It is not the rat which needs to be attended to, but rather yourself.” Explaining that everything which happens to a person comes directly from Hashem, he directed her to research the rat in Perek Shira. A sefer which enumerates the various songs of praise expressed by all parts of creation in the world, the rat too has a line. It says, “Let every neshama (soul) praise Hashem!” Taken from Psalm 150 in Tehillim, the rat conveys its appreciation for life. It does not complain, but rather embraces its lowly life and makes the most of it. Chazal explain this Pasuk to mean that for every neshima (breath), a word similar to neshama, we are to praise Hashem (Yalkut Shimoni, Tehillim 889). Every breath of life is precious and requires that we show our immense gratitude to our Creator.

As Sara Yocheved Rigler came across this intriguing interpretation of what the rat says, she was sincerely moved. Realizing that perhaps the rat was doing more than being a nuisance, but was sending her a message, she began thinking of her own life.

One day when she returned from her normal routine of walking with her young son to school, she proceeded to talk with her husband. And as she had done many times before, she told him how her morning had gone. Mentioning that their son had complained about the uncomfortable heat, as the conversation continued and Mrs. Rigler added some of her own complaints, she all of a sudden stopped in her tracks. And then she remembered the message of the rat. “Why I am complaining?” she thought to herself. “I should be praising Hashem for the gift of a beautiful son and another day to live.” From then on, she decided that she would work on always being positive. When she would be asked how everything is going, she would do her utmost to respond, “Great, Baruch Hashem!”

This was the story I read to my children after our own little “episode” had recurred a few times. Thinking what could perhaps be our issue to remedy, I began thinking. What does water symbolize? Considering that water is compared to Torah, maybe not enough Torah learning was taking place in our house. Although the idea made sense, I did not feel that the issue was Torah learning. And so, I thought some more. And then I realized that deep down I knew exactly what the problem was.

Both occurrences of there being no water took place on Erev Shabbat. On both occasions, we entered Shabbat a bit disheveled and uneasy. And that was because, at least on a personal basis, Erev Shabbat is always a hectic time. When under pressure, I tend to be able to get things together and finish; but undoubtedly it is coupled with much tension and chaos.

It was on the following Thursday that I received a phone call. It was Metuka Newman, a friend I had gone to high school with. Although I had been in touch with her while I lived in Israel, that was eighteen years ago. For the past eighteen years, I had only spoken to her twice. But on this Thursday, out of the blue, she called me.

“Rivka Malka,” she said, “I have an organization called Shamor, which stands for Shabbat Mukdam U’ragua (Shabbat early and calm). It is an organization which I have started in Israel which hosts gatherings for women and speaks about the importance of entering Shabbat peacefully and calmly. We have also implemented a special phone system which reminds everyone that Shabbat is soon to begin. As well, classes are provided which offer home organizing tips to make the Shabbat preparations run smoother and easier. It has, Baruch Hashem, met much success in Israel and grown tremendously. However, I was looking to spread it throughout America. Would you happen to have any ideas as to how we could do so?”

As I heard what Metuka had to say, I was taken aback. I had not spoken to her in close to two decades and there were plenty of other people in America she could have spoken to. However, she called me. And it was for a very good reason. Hashem knew I had to hear this message and He sent it straight to me. “You were right that you need to improve on your Erev Shabbat preparations. Here is a phone call all the way from Israel especially for you.”

The messages which Hashem send us are endless. Some are quiet and must be listened to with an attentive ear, while some others are a bit more obvious. But either way, when we hear the phone ring, we should be able to discern who the caller is.

Rabbi Dovid Kaplan
The Great Small Deeds

לא חמור אחד מהם נשאתי ולא הרעתי את אחד מהם

“I have not taken even a single donkey of theirs, nor have I wronged even one of them” (Bamidbar 16:15)

After Moshe Rabbeinu’s failed attempt to convince Korach to renege on his revolt, he went on to petition Datan and Aviram, the other main proponents involved, to do so. Summoning them, however, left no positive result. Aside from condemning Moshe as an unsuccessful leader, they arrogantly refused to make any effort in reaching reconciliation. Now in an even further compromised situation, Moshe turned to Hashem.

Imploring Hashem not to accept the incense offering Korach and his followers would offer the following day, Moshe said, “I have not even taken a single donkey of theirs, nor have I wronged even one of them.” With this statement, Moshe meant to counterbalance the complaints Datan and Aviram had lodged against him. Emphasizing that he always kept the best interests of the Jewish people in mind, Moshe highlighted his greatness in two ways: he never took advantage of the Jewish nation’s property or mistreated them.

But there is one slight problem. If you were in Moshe Rabbeinu’s position, what characteristic or historic event would you have singled out? The fact that he led the Jews out of Egypt, played a role in Splitting the Sea and served as the conduit to bring down the Torah from Har Sinai? Or, as Moshe chose to note, the fact that he relied on his own resources and guided the Jews with care and consideration? The former achievements most certainly sound more impressive. Why then did Moshe avoid mentioning them altogether when underscoring the legacy of his leadership?

A similar question can be raised when examining a peculiar dialogue recorded in the Gemara (Avoda Zara 18a). Hearing that R’ Yossi ben Kisma had turned ill, R’ Chanina ben Teradyon went to visit him. After R’ Yossi noted the extreme lengths R’ Chanina was taking to publicly teach Torah despite the risks involved if the Romans would catch him, R’ Chanina himself posed a question to R’ Yossi.

“Rebbe, do I have a share in the World to Come?” “Did any meritorious deed come your way that you would be worthy?” asked R’ Yossi. “There was one time,” said R’ Chanina, “when the money I had set aside for my Purim meal was mixed together with money for charity, and I gave it all the poor.” “If that is the case,” said R’ Yossi, “may my portion be like your portion, and my lot be like your lot” (i.e. you are destined for a great reward in the World to Come).

Why, asks Rav Dessler (Michtav Mei’Eliyahu Vol. 3, p. 107), did R’ Chanina single out as his greatest deed the time in which he closely adhered to the mitzvah of giving tzedakah? It is true that under the given circumstances he demonstrated unwavering integrity to a mitzvah and gave no thought to rationalizing himself out of it. But isn’t the fact that he risked his life to teach Torah a much more significant and remarkable feat? Imagine the following scenario. An individual is approached and asked if he is a good citizen or not. “Well,” he says, “I don’t walk through any red lights.” “Is there anything else that you do?” “I assist the paramedics in saving other people’s lives.”

If you would want to know about this person’s contribution to society, which aspect would you recommend that he mention first and foremost? The latter. Yet Moshe Rabbeinu and R’ Chanina seem to be doing the opposite. They appear to be attaching importance to the smaller accomplishments they have done. Why is that so?

Addressing this issue, Rav Dessler lays down a fundamental principle in Judaism and life in general. The measure of a person, he explains, are the little, consistent actions which are performed. The large, inspiring actions which are done once in a while do not define one’s essence. While they may be very praiseworthy and meaningful, they do not build us as people as much as consistent deeds do. Giving a thousand dollars to one organization is unequivocally commendable; but it does not transform a person into a giver as much as giving one dollar to a thousand different people does. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the true mark of a person are the everyday, small actions which impact himself and others.

This is what Moshe Rabbeinu and R’ Chanina recognized and accentuated. It was true that Moshe was the vehicle for grandiose miracles and reached unparalleled spiritual heights. However, Moshe focused on the little deeds – not using another’s donkey or hurting anyone – because it is precisely those otherwise uninspiring gestures which characterize a person and bespeak his or her true quality. R’ Chanina was the same. That one, nonchalant day when he relinquished the money for his Purim meal along with his regular tzedakah was nothing extraordinary in comparison to his admirable devotion to disseminating Torah. Yet, it was exactly that decision to place the poor ahead of himself which defined and typified his behavior all year round. It may have been just another incident, but then again, that is exactly the point. That simple conscious action spoke to his essential nature as an honest and caring individual.

The ramifications of this are far-reaching. It is the daily hello given to the elderly man in Shul, the help provided to one’s parents by bringing in the groceries, the consideration of waking up when the baby is crying and allowing your husband or wife to sleep, and the small thought of taking the initiative to clean the dishes after Shabbat which will build us as Jews and determine who we become. Those small actions speak volumes about our character and mold us into truly praiseworthy people.

My great-uncle, Rav Mendel Kaplan, once remarked, “Don’t try to be a tzaddik (righteous individual); try to be a mentsch (someone with refined character).” The sensational, breathtaking deeds are important and can make the greatest of differences, yet we can never forget the small acts. They are the ones which build our lives and the lives of so many others in the subtlest, yet profoundest of ways.

A Short Message From
Rabbi Eytan Feiner

When I got married, my grandfather a”h gave me two pieces of advice. “Number one, make sure that you buy your wife flowers every Erev Shabbat and Erev Yom Tov. But don’t simply give her any flowers; find the most beautiful roses and tulips. Bring her something special that demonstrates the extra effort you put in. It can even be a post-it note hidden in her purse which shows that you are always thinking about her. Number two, as you go through life, love your wife more than yesterday, but never as much as tomorrow. Make sure your marriage is always growing and improving day by day.”

Picture of newsletter
100% free

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

Timely Torah insights, stories, and anecdotes from your favorite TorahAnytime speakers, delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Your email is safe with us. We don't spam.