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Friday, July 8, 2016

Insight 5776-38: BUT REALITY CHANGES

For Korach
Not yet available on the Nishma website

I would like to point out that it is also an acceptance of changing reality that could have been a factor in Korach's mistake. Korach challenged Moshe in that he declared that Moshe promised to bring the people to Israel yet the desert generation was now under a Divine edict that they would perish in the desert without entering the land. Was Korach really arguing that Moshe intentionally lied? Another possibility may be that Korach was using this fact as support for a contention that reality had changed and that Moshe's previous status was no longer applicable.

Study Question



  1. Rav,

    And a מחלוקת לשם שמים will endure. Korach's wasn't.

    Also, the further removed from the miracle, the more we attribute it to nature.

    Nothing in human behaviour should surprise us. Because we are just that -- human. Rather than focus on the reason for the behaviour we should spend our energy on understanding how Korach's behaviour should help us shape our own, and that is much harder. We are taught to do that with the mistakes we see others make.

    Korach's errors tell me how and when to challenge authority. That Korach did it so publicly shows it wasn't לשם שמים.

  2. One more brief idea. God could show a person a miracle and say "Now be a good person." And God made our will so strong and independent that the person would still be a crook if he so willed it.

    A classic: Joe is really late for a meeting. He asks God to find a parking spot for him. Ten seconds later he sees a guy vacating a spot. He says "It's OK God, I just found one."

  3. See, further, http://www.aishdas.org/asp/my-life-as-pendulum

    I like using the mashal of a Foucault Pendulum. (In fact, my daughter bought me one for father's day.)

    A Foucault Pendulum looks like the axis it swings on changes as time goes on. But the truth is the reverse -- the axis stays the same, but the world rotates beneath it. Which is why the pendulum's swing ends will make a full circle once a day at the (geographic) poles, and slower and slower as you get closer to the equator.

    So too halakhah -- the values stay the same, but the practice changes as the world does.

    Or for that matter, personal integrity. And so:

    His students asked Rabbi Zakai, “For what [were you granted] long life?” He said to them, “In all my days, I never urinated within a distance of four amos from where I prayed, I never gave another person a nickname, and I never failed to recite qiddush; I had an elderly mother, and once she sold her hat in order to obtain the means to bring me wine for qiddush.” …
    His students asked Rabbi Elazar bar Shamua’, “For what [were you granted] long life?” He said to them, “In all my days, I never made a shortcut out of the beis medrash; I never tread on the heads of the sacred people; and I never lifted my hands [to bless the people as a kohein] without making the blessing first.”

    His students asked Rabbi Pereidah, “For what [were you granted] long life?” He said to them, “In all my days, no one ever preceded me into the beis medrash; I never blessed ahead of a kohein; and I never ate from an animal after the gifts [to the kohanim] were given.” …
    His students asked Rabbi Nechunia ben haQanah, “For what [were you granted] long life?” He said to them, “In all my days, I never obtained honor for myself through my colleague’s disgrace; a colleague’s curse never went into my bed with me [I forgave the one who cursed me first]; I was open with my money.” …

    Rabbi Aqiva asked Rabbi Nechunia haGadol, “For what [were you granted] long life?” … He said to him, “In all my days, I never accepted gifts; I never stood for my rights; I was open with my money.”

    Rebbe asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Qorchah [“Qorchah”, the bald, refers to Rabbi Aqiva from the previous paragraph], “For what [were you granted] long life?” … He said to him, “In all my days, I never looked at the image of an evil person.”

    The common theme -- consistency in sticking to a cherished value.