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haaros

Parshas Korach

Ha’aros Vol. 6 # 11

There was a Chasidic leader who was very close to Rav Chaim Brisker. When the Rebbe passed away, his son was unable to take the helm. One grandson had the approval of the majority, but some questioned his unusual habits. However, a second grandson could lead -- without the unusual conduct. Having nowhere else to turn for advice, they agreed to take the dilemma to Rav Chaim, who was known for his brilliance. He was, after all, close to the group, and had known their Rebbe very well.

Rav Chaim received the delegation with great honor. When they presented the question as to who should succeed as Rebbe, he related the following:

Korach initiated a plan to take over Moshe’s leadership. Originally, we find On Ben Peles mentioned as one of the renegades. However, his name doesn’t appear again. He is not mentioned as one of those who died in the fire, nor as one swallowed by the earth.

The Rabbis say that his wife dissuaded him. What did she say? “What do you have to gain? If Moshe is the leader, you will be a disciple. If Korach is leader, you will also be a disciple!”

Now, what kind of logic is this? Here, we have a profound debate. Korach claims that Moshe makes decisions by whim, and Hashem lets him get away with it. Korach, however, promises to be more even-handed. Moshe responds that his decisions are not his own, but dictated by Hashem Himself. On’s wife has not addressed the profoundity of the argument whatsoever!

Actually, explained Rav Chaim, the woman’s words cut right to the gist of the issue. It is easy to challenge leadership from the outside, by questioning the decision-making process. Once the opposition gains the upper-hand, though -- it finds itself in the same quandary, and also is criticized for its decision-making process... Therefore, On’s wife’s argument cuts right through to the issue. What difference will it make to anyone who is not in the actual leadership? You will be on the outside in any case. Just as you challenge Moshe, you will have to challenge Korach...

“SImilarly, in your case,” Rav Chaim explained to the Chassidim, “One has been chosen. His judgement has been questioned by others, but those outside the seat of power will always question judgement. If they come to power, their judgement, too, will be questioned.”

In spite of all the miracles which Moshe Rabbeinu had performed, there would always be criticism. The people on the outside are always going to complain. Moshe had to demonstrate that Hashem wasn’t merely going along with Moshe, but that Hashem was leading, and Moshe following.

Concepts and Mussar from Kelm
Rav Simcha Zissel Ziev -- The 'Alter' of Kelm
Translated from the original

One of the students anonymously summarizes the tenth letter.

We see here the aim of mussar -- to first flee from wrong-doing, and only then to take hold of the good. (1) Although the pursuit of good is ultimtely greater, (2) nonetheless, running from evil takes precedence; it is more of an immediate necessity. One must initially be careful not to stumble. Until then, how can he rejoice in his pursuit of good? Who knows, if, and to what degree, the ‘good’ which he pursues, is truly ‘good’?

An amazing demonstration of this concept is found in the Gemara (Kiddushin 31b). Two orphans, Rebbi Yochanan and Abaye, claimed they were fortunate because the overwhelming responsibility to honor one’s parents is very difficult to fulfill. This is a great, wonderful principle -- very comprehensive. (3)


1. "Turn from evil and accomplish good." T'hilim (Psalms 34:15).
2. See Ramban, Commentary to the Torah, Shmos (Exodus 20:8). Also see the supercommentary of Rav Chaim Dov Chavel, ibid. for sources.
3. It is amazing to think that one would be grateful for not being able to fulfil a mitzva... Rav Simcha Zissel uses this to back up the idea that one should be concerned about erring before pursuing good.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Torah.org.


 


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