Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Korach) The Good Wife!
This past weekend, while attending a family Simcha, my brother Elozar shared with me an insightful idea from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein o.b.m.
The Torah relates the story of the 12 spies who were sent to check out the Land of Israel. Ten of the spies brought back a negative report while Yehoshua and Calev remained true to their assignment. The people became filled with fear and apprehension regarding entering the land.
Throughout the mission, Yehoshua clearly opposed the negativity of the other spies. However, Calev, did not outwardly reveal his true feelings regarding the mission, rather he cleverly kept his feelings secret allowing himself the opportunity to sway the people away from the bad report of the spies.
In fact, after the spies gave their bad report, Calev got up to speak. He began his speech without revealing his position, saying in a seemingly contemptuous way, “Is that all that the ‘son of Amram’ has done to us?” Once Calev grabbed the people’s attention, he continued, “Moshe took us out of Egypt, brought us the Manna etc., he certainly can lead us into the wonderful Land of Israel”
The evil spies reacted even more forcefully and passionately saying that the mighty nations who reside in Israel were unconquerable. They succeeded in getting the nation worked up again and the nation began to weep about their uncertain future. Because of their unwarranted tears, G-d punished the nation with wandering in the desert for 40 years while an entire generation died in the desert.
The Torah says that because of Calev’s “extra special spirit” in quieting the nation during his speech he was rewarded by G-d. Reb Moshe asks, why did Calev receive such a special reward? After all, his positive words didn’t have a lasting effect on the nation.
Answers Reb Moshe, “What Calev was able to do, no matter how brief of a time, was to capture the attention of people and realign their thinking that G-d will do good on his promise to take them into the Land. Those short-lived and precious moments of clarity that Calev was able to impress upon the people earned him great rewards!”
We see that even short moments of spiritual inspiration and connectivity shouldn’t be taken lightly.
I recently read an article that was written as an appreciation to a Gabbai – a personal assistant to a Chasidic Rebbe. The author writes that he and a few Jewish friends from college decided to spend a month of their summer vacation living an observant life.
A part of their itinerary was to pay a visit to a Chasidic Rebbe. When they arrived in front of the Shul of the Skevere Rebbe, they felt a bit self-conscious. Within moments they were greeted warmly by a Chasid. The man invited them in and arranged a meeting with the Rebbe. The warmth that they were initially shown by Rabbi Unger – the Gabbai of the Rebbe and the man who met them – had a tremendous impact on them. The author noted that because of his decision to give himself the objective opportunity to experience observance, he went on to embrace a religious lifestyle!
In this week’s Parsha the Torah details a disagreement that Korach, a prestigious person belonging to the Levite family, had with our leader Moshe. Korach claimed that Moshe appointed his brother Aaron as the High Priest as an act of nepotism and not through the command of G-d.
We can understand that Korach who was from the same tribe of Levi as Aaron could have in some way imagined that he had a chance at getting the High Priesthood, but how was Korach able to convince a group of 250 men from a different tribe to join him in the argument? What chance did they have to gain the position of High Priesthood? After all they were not Levites.
An answer offered is that since these 250 men resided in close proximity to the wicked Korach, they became influenced by his negativity and issues.
Additionally, Korach involved the 250 men in lighthearted mockery of some of the rulings of Moshe. By becoming caught in the dismissive and ridiculing attitude they lost the opportunity to think logically about the severe ramifications of rebelling against Moshe the authority appointed by G-d. They ignored Moshe’s peaceful overtures and warnings and were killed.
There was an exception: The wife of Ohn, one of the disputants, had the clarity of mind to speak sense to her husband and cleverly protected him from the consequence that befell the others. Our Sages confer the words of King Solomon in Proverbs, “The wisdom of women has built the home,” on Ohn’s wife.
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and enjoyable Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family