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Rabbi Doniel Staum - Parshas Korach 5775 "The Ultimate Challenge"
by Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW

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6/18/15

STAM TORAH

PARSHAS KORACH 5775

THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE

"If I Were The Devil"

Paul Harvey

I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man's effort, instead of G-d's blessings;

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;

I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;

I would make it socially acceptable to take one's own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;

I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that lives of animals are valued more than human beings;

I would take G-d out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a lawsuit;

I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them;

I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the minds of every family member for my agenda;

I would attack the family, the backbone of any nation.

I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation;

I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movies screens, and I would call it art;

I would convince the world that same-gender marriage is natural, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled;

I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agendas as politically correct;

I would persuade people that religion is irrelevant and out of date; the Bible is for the naïve;

I would dull the minds of believers, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;

I GUESS I WOULD LEAVE THINGS PRETTY MUCH THE WAY THEY ARE!

The Zohar[1] writes that when Korach incited a coup d’état against Moshe, he challenged “peace” itself. In so doing, he also challenged Shabbos and Torah, both of which are referred to as ‘peace’.

What does the Zohar mean? How can one physically challenge “peace” and what is the connection with Shabbos and Torah?

The Nesivos Shalom explains that “shalom - peace” is not merely the absence of divisiveness and discord. G-d created the world in a fashion that it exists based on a ‘giver-taker’ joint relationship. The moon reflects the light of the sun, and the earth is nourished from the rain which descends from the sky[2]. Human relationships, primarily the male-female relationship, also contain this type of synergistic relationship. The male’s role is to provide, while the female’s role is to accept what the male contributes and to then enhance and develop it[3]. The world itself also includes this form of relationship, as this world is merely an anteroom to the World to Come.

The only ‘force’ that is completely sovereign and independent is G-d Himself. The rest of creation however, requires a dynamic giver-taker relationship. On a spiritual level too, every generation is guided and led by its leaders who are privy to a greater level of clarity of Torah knowledge. Therefore, the masses must look to its sagacious scholars for guidance and direction about what are the Torah’s expectations in every given situation. In fact the transmission and perpetuation of Torah has always been from teacher to student, father to son.

The Zohar explains that all physical blessings are granted as a result of Shabbos observance. The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh[4] explains that when G-d created the world He only instilled it with the ability to exist for six days. After that time, the world should have instantly reverted back to a nebulous wisp of nothingness. It is only the observance of Shabbos which infuses the world with a resurgence of energy that allows the world to exist for another six days[5].

When Korach challenged Moshe and Aharon, he was challenging and seeking to undermine the leadership of the nation. Korach countered that although at Sinai Moshe was needed to transmit the Torah, that was in the past. From Sinai onward, it was no longer necessary to be taught and guided by a teacher. “For the entire nation is holy and in their midst is G-d. So why have you raised yourself above the assembly of G-d?”

In doing so, Korach unwittingly challenged the very fabric of creation. The ramifications of his arguments were not only a challenge to authority of the nation but of the very foundation of the world which is only sustained through a system of hierarchy and submission to other powers/forces which nurture and provide.

The Torah defines peace as our ability to maintain that status of homeostasis in creation, wherein the world and all of its components uphold and maintain the giver-taker relationship. That relationship requires a sense of selflessness to provide for others, as well as a sense of deferential submission to supreme powers. Thus, Korach’s rebellion was an attack on “peace” itself.

In the same vein, Korach’s claims posed an indirect challenge against the Torah and Shabbos, because they too are the spiritual providers of Klal Yisroel. We submit ourselves to the Torah and seek to observe Shabbos properly, at times at great personal sacrifice. The attitude that Korach perpetuated undermined those basic tenets of Judaism. He claimed that every Jew could be spiritually self-sufficient. That attitude stands in direct contrast to the essence of Torah study and Shabbos observance.

I once heard the following beautiful observation: There are two bodies of water within the borders of Eretz Yisroel: the Kinneret and the Dead Sea. The waters of the Kinneret have a crystal blue appearance and are sweet and healthy, providing much of the country’s water. The Dead Sea on the other hand, lives up to its name. Its waters are salty and bitter and it cannot sustain any life.

What is the difference between these two bodies of water? The Kinneret has water feeding into it and flowing from it[6]. The Dead Sea however, only has water flowing into it[7], but no water flows from the Dead Sea.

When something provides and gives of itself to others the nurturance that it itself received, that is a testament to its vitality and vigor, like the Kinneret which both receives and provides. However, when something/someone hordes what was given to it, and does not give to others, that indicates that there is spiritual death and sterility. The Dead Sea receives but does not provide and therefore it cannot sustain life.

The Torah gives a specific warning, “You shall not be like Korach and his assembly[8]” in order to caution us to be very wary of the ramifications of his insurgence. Our ability to cling and connect with G-d is inextricably bound with our ability to cling and connect with our leaders who are our guides. Without their council the world becomes an ill society replete with depravity and lawless anarchy.

It is only a nation led with humility and selflessness, leaders such as Moshe and Aharon, that is destined to produce a holy G-dly nation.

“Korach unwittingly challenged the very fabric of creation”

“You shall not be like Korach and his assembly”

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[1] Chelek 3, 176

[2] The cycle then continues with the clouds being formed based on evaporation from the earth and condensation forming in the air.

[3] The most obvious example of this is in regards to procreation.

[4] Parshas Bereishis 2:1

[5] The Ohr Hachaim demonstrates that from the beginning of creation there was always at least one individual who observed the Shabbos and thereby ensured the continuity of creation each week.

[6] The Jordan River flows into the Kinneret, and then continues to flow from it.

[7] The Jordan River empties into the Dead Sea

[8] Bamidbar 17:5



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