R' Pinchas Shapiro of Koretz z"l (1726-1791; student of the
Ba'al Shem Tov and early chassidic rebbe) lived in terrible
poverty. His house was shabby and it looked ready to fall at any
Once, R' Pinchas' chassidim in another town invited him to
spend Shabbat with them. In honor of the occasion, they bought
him a new suit and prepared a beautiful apartment in which he
On Friday night, R' Pinchas was in high spirits. He said:
"Here, where I am a guest, they feed me on silver platters like a
wealthy man, whereas at home, the poverty reaches every corner of
my house. I assume that my chassidim learned to treat me this
way from the Torah itself."
He explained: "Parashat Pinchas contains a description of the
sacrifices for all of the holidays, yet this parashah's regular
place (its 'home') is during the depressing Three Weeks. On the
other hand, when this parashah comes as a guest, it is Yom Tov
(i.e., on each of the holidays, we read the day's sacrifices from
Parashat Pinchas as a maftir).
"Similarly, I, Pinchas, make my home in depressing
surroundings, but when I come as a guest, it becomes a Yom Tov."
(Quoted in Otzrot Tzaddikei U'geonei Ha'dorot p. 489)
"Behold! I give him My covenant of peace."
R' Shaul Broch z"l (Hungarian rabbi; died 1940) asks: We are
taught (Rashi to Gittin 81b; see also Kiddushin 70b) that kohanim
are "kapdanim" / stubborn people who stand up for what they
believe is right. How is this consistent with Pinchas, who was a
kohen, being given a "covenant of peace"?
He answers: The Torah commands (Vayikra 19:17), "You shall not
hate your brother in your heart." If you have a legitimate
complaint against another, do not keep it in your heart and let
your silent hatred fester. Rather, speak to your "brother" about
your complaint so that he can explain himself or make amends.
Similarly, it is true that kohanim are "kapdanim," but it is
precisely their trait of not hiding their hurt feelings that
causes them to have peaceful relations with others.
"Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Elazar . . . 'Take a census of
the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael.' Moshe and Elazar
Hakohen spoke to them in the plains of Moav . . ." (26:1-3)
Rashi writes: Moshe and Elazar spoke to Bnei Yisrael about the
fact that Hashem commanded them to count Bnei Yisrael.
It appears from Rashi's comment that Bnei Yisrael were
reluctant to be counted and that Moshe and Elazar had to reassure
R' Yosef Shaul Nathanson z"l (1808-1875; rabbi of L'vov,
Galicia) explains: In connection with an earlier census, Rashi
(to Bemidbar 1:49) writes that the tribe of Levi was counted
separately from the other tribes because Hashem knew that those
who were counted were destined to die in the desert, and the
tribe of Levi did not deserve that fate. Thus, writes R'
Nathanson, when Moshe and Elazar began to take a census of the
new generation and Bnei Yisrael saw that, again, the Levi'im were
not included, Bnei Yisrael balked at being counted. Moshe and
Elazar had to speak to Bnei Yisrael and explain that the purpose
of this census was to prepare for dividing the land. The reason
that the Levi'im were not included in this census is that they
had no share in the Land.
(Divrei Shaul: Mahadura Tinyana)
"The sons of Eliav: Nemuel and Datan and Aviram, the same
Datan and Aviram who were summoned by the assembly who
contended against Moshe and Aharon among the assembly of
Korach, when they contended against Hashem. Then the earth
opened up its mouth and swallowed them and Korach with the
death of the assembly, when the fire consumed 250 men - and
they became a sign. But the sons of Korach did not die."
R' Shlomo Kluger z"l (1783-1869; rabbi of Brody, Galicia)
writes: Korach, Datan and Aviram, on the one hand, and their 250
followers, on the other hand, did not have the same intention in
rebelling. Korach's followers were rebelling against Moshe and
Aharon, as Korach said that he was. In reality, though, Korach
himself was rebelling against Hashem.
This is alluded to in Tehilim (106:16): "They were jealous of
Moshe in the camp, of Aharon, Hashem's holy one." In the camp,
i.e., in public, Korach, Datan and Aviram acted as if their fight
was with (what they claimed was) Moshe's own decision to make
Aharon Kohen Gadol. In fact, though, they knew that Aharon was
Hashem's holy one, and they were fighting against Hashem's
decision to choose Aharon.
This is why Korach, Datan and Aviram, on the one hand, and the
250 followers, on the other hand, received different punishments.
The former group was swallowed by the earth, while the latter
group was consumed by fire, in order to demonstrate that the two
groups did not sin equally. And, Korach's, Datan's and Aviram's
true intentions were revealed thereby, as Moshe said (16:30), "If
Hashem will create a phenomenon, and the earth opens its mouth
and swallows them . . . then you will know that these men have
provoked Hashem," i.e., they did not merely attack myself and
R' Kluger continues: The difference between the rebellion's
leaders and its followers is alluded to in our verses. We read,
"Datan and Aviram who were summoned by the assembly who contended
against Moshe and Aharon among the assembly of Korach, when they
contended against Hashem." The assembly contended only against
Moshe and Aharon when they, Datan and Aviram, contended against
We read further: "Then the earth opened up its mouth and
swallowed them [i.e., Datan and Aviram] and Korach with the death
of the assembly, when the fire consumed 250 men[.]" Korach,
Datan and Aviram were swallowed "with" (i.e., at the same time
as) the death of the assembly, at precisely the same time that
the fire consumed the 250 men. As mentioned, this happened in
order to highlight the difference between them.
Lest one argue that there was no difference between Korach and
his followers and that the followers were punished differently
because they had repented, our verses conclude: "But the sons of
Korach did not die." Korach's sons repented and were saved. Had
the 250 men repented, they too would not have died. Rather, the
reason they were punished differently was that their sin was
"And of these [the people who were counted by Moshe and
Elazar] there was no man of those counted by Moshe and
Aharon Hakohen, who counted Bnei Yisrael in the Wilderness
of Sinai." (26:64)
R' Aharon Kotler z"l (rosh yeshiva in Kletzk, Poland and
Lakewood, N.J.; died 1962) observes: Bnei Yisrael saw with their
own eyes that an entire generation died out precisely as Hashem
foretold through Moshe. They saw that throughout the 40 years in
the desert, anyone who angered Hashem was swiftly punished.
Certainly this should have been powerful mussar / reproof!
Nevertheless, a substantial part of the book of Devarim is
devoted to Moshe's giving additional mussar to this generation.
Why? Answers R' Kotler: We learn from here how great the power
of the yetzer hara is and how intense is man's desire to ignore
even that which is obvious. Moshe could not assume that they
would learn from what they had witnessed, and he had to point
every detail out to them in order to reprove them.
(Mishnat Aharon II, p. 86)
R' Yishayah Bardaky z"l
Died 18 Cheshvan 5623 / 1862
R' Bardaky was a son-in-law (in his second marriage) of R'
Yisrael of Shklov, who refers to his son-in-law as, "an important
man and a talmid chacham, the sharp and erudite rabbi who is more
G-d-fearing than most . . ." R' Bardaky was born in Pinsk and
taught Torah there, but he decided to settle in Eretz Yisrael
after his first wife died. When the ship carrying R' Bardaky,
his son, Shmuel Akiva, and his daughter, neared the port of Akko,
it was wrecked, and all the passengers were thrown into the sea.
R' Bardaky, however, was a powerful swimmer, and, with his two
children on his back, he swam ashore.
Upon reaching Yerushalayim, R' Bardaky was appointed head of
the Ashkenazic community. He also was appointed vice-consul of
the Austrian Empire as a result of the following incident: The
Austrian Emperor took ill and sent a message to Yerushalayim that
R' Bardaky, who was known as a holy man, should pray for the
Emperor at the kotel ha'maaravi. Until that time, R' Bardaky had
never visited the kotel because he was afraid that when he
touched the wall he might inadvertently put his finger into a
deep crevice in the wall, thus inadvertently trespassing on the
Temple grounds in a state of ritual impurity. However, to
fulfill the Emperor's request, R' Bardaky did pray at the kotel,
and the Emperor was cured.
A pauper once visited R' Bardaky, who was in charge of
distributing stipends, and asked for an advance on the following
month's payment. R' Bardaky responded that regrettably he had no
money to distribute at that moment. The pauper became agitated,
and when R' Bardaky continued to demur, the pauper slapped him.
"Wait here," R' Bardaky said in response, and he ran out of his
house. Returning a while later with money that he had just
collected, R' Bardaky apologized to the pauper: "I'm sorry, I did
not realize how great your need was."
The entry in Yerushalayim's Chevrah Kadishah journal recording
R' Bardaky's death states: "Zion will cry bitterly over the
destruction which G-d has wrought in Zion, how the ark of G-d was
taken . . . the famous rabbi and gaon whose name went from one
end of the world to the other." (Source: Gedolei Ha'dorot p.
the Kaplan family (Teaneck /Toronto)
on the yahrzeit of
Harav Moshe Raphael Hakohen Kaplan a"h