Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Korach

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

R' Frand began the vort by quoting the Gemara in Sanhedrin 109 which discusses the role of On Ben Pelet's wife. By way of introduction, the first pasuk of the parsha describes Korach's gang which included the instigators - Dasan and Aviram as well as On Ben Pelet. However, the Torah makes no further reference to On and he does not die in the plague or by being swallowed up by the ground.

The Gemara discusses how On's wife talked him out of participating in Korach's rebellion. She reasoned with him by saying --what is in this for you? You won't become a Kohain as this fight is among the sons of Levi and you are from Reuven. You will always be an On, so why get involved? This argument proved successful and On retreated to the inside of the tent while his wife sat outside and warded off Korach and his men. The Gemara links this to a pasuk in Mishlei in which it is written the Wisdom of a woman builds her house.

R' Frand then asked on this Gemara --why was On's wife effective? Korach's complaint was not only about the role that Moshe assigned to his brother Aharon. He also made fun of the shaving of the Levi'im and the fact that Moshe picked them up and waved them like lulavim. He also circulated a story about an indigent widow who Moshe supposedly required to give leket, shichicha, peah and ma'aser from her field. And when she had animals which gave birth, Moshe required her to give the first animal as a bechor and the Kohanim took their priestly gifts. As a result, she and her daughters died of famine. So why was On's wife able to convince him not to join the revolt?

R' Frand answered that On's wife was able to convince On that the revolt was not about the nepotism or the way that the Levi'im were treated. And the story about the woman was "fake news" invented thousands of years before the combover. She convinced him that the machlokes was entirely based on Korach's jealousy and his desire for power. Being a wise observer, she recognized that these other issues were merely devices to garner support, but at its core, a machlokes is never about the ancillary issues. It revolves around jealousy and a desire for money, or in this case, power. And since On was not in line to accede to any of the lofty roles that Korach sought, there was simply no reason for him to get involved.

R' Frand also said a second vort on the complaint by Korach that Moshe was "haughty". R' Frand quoted R' Bunim M'Parshizcha who R' Frand applied in a 20-21st century manner. He theorized that a person could not logically state that Einstein was a genius, but did not have a grasp of physics. You could perhaps say that he did not know how to balance a checkbook, but anyone who knew Einstein would reject the claim that he did not know physics.

R' Frand gave another example of a person saying that Warren Buffet was brilliant but did not know how to pick stocks. Again, anyone who knew him would reject this statement out of hand.

But since Hashem had said that Moshe was an anav and everyone knew him to be that way, what gave Korach the legs to make this argument?

R' Frand answered by quoting the Sfas Emes who stated that there are two kinds of anav. The first kind is a person who knows that he has talents and works hard at trying not to be arrogant or to give the impression that he is important. This person is always worried that people will think him haughty and he thinks about what others may perceive before he acts.

The second kind of anav is someone who has a close relationship with Hashem and by way of the connection, he is an anav. This person does not worry about others' impressions of him and he is naturally humble. 

Moshe was this second kind of anav and this freed him to occasionally take positions which to an outsider might appear to be hubris, but which was really just standing up for what was right.

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