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Parshas Korach - Have We Reached the New Norm?         4 Tammuz 5780

06/26/20 09:21:28


The days turned into weeks, and the weeks have turned into months. I am scared to even talk about the next stage if these months may possibly turn into years! Throughout history changes have taken place and still the world evolved from one set of circumstances to the next. It is almost twenty years since the world of travel and security changed, but acceptance of this need for security has become the norm for the older generation and a part of life for the younger generation. We do not know if the wearing of masks and social distancing is at its peak and will decline, reverting to the way life was before Covid-19 or if these changes are here to stay – at least for a long time. What we should know is God’s omniscient presence in the past, present and future. Unfortunately, we sometimes tend to see Hashem through our 20/20 hindsight, or look with expectation towards a bright and secure future by spitting out the words ‘Im Yirtzeh Hashem’, with God’s will. But it is the present that we either cannot see God, or we just are not looking hard enough for Him. We tend to forget the fact that Hashem is in control as we speak and write. I recently heard about this problem addressed head on.

It is written in the Zohar חיי עלמא מזוני “The one who gives life, gives sustenance”. Rav Elimelech Biderman asks, “What does that mean?” Rav Biderman explains this phrase with a few examples. One can be the wealthiest and most resourceful man in the world, but with all his power, influence, connections and protectzia, can he add even one day to his life span? Even with all the money in the world and networks available to him, can he extend his life? Certainly not, rather, he will receive whatever is predestined to him from the time he was created, not a day or even a penny more. Of course, a man must put forth his/her best effort to make a livelihood and seek out the best medical care, but at the end of the day, it is not in our control.

The Chovos HaLevavos in Shaar Daled writes negatively of someone who does not put in effort to make a living wage. Nevertheless, he must constantly remind himself that complacency is not a guarantee. It is a Mitzva to try and yet know that it is not in his control; it is in God’s hands. There is a story told of a bachur (unmarried Yeshiva student) who came to Reb Elya Lopian zt”l for permission to leave the Yeshiva and go to work. Reb Elya felt the boy still had time to learn before going off to work and asked him why he needed to leave now. The bachur replied: Why? So, I can get married and support children and a family. Reb Elya responded, “And how do you know that you will get married?” “Well, everybody gets married! “the bachur responded. “Ahh, but how do you know you will have children?” The student was growing irritated and responded, “ Is the Rebbi cursing me?” Reb Elya Lopian replied, ”No, I am not cursing you, but I see you put your trust in Hashem to get married and to be blessed with children, but you do not have trust in Him that He will provide sustenance for you and your family in the proper time. Reb Elya concluded, “Are you doing this (going to work) because you are placing a limit on Hashem’s abilities? “

In another episode, a bachur told the Chofetz Chaim that he was turning down a certain Shidduch (a proposed match). Not only was he turning it down, he continued to exclaim, he did not want to even consider or entertain such a suggestion. The Chofetz Chaim asked why he would not consider this shidduch (proposed match)? The young man answered that he is looking for a girl whose father would provide support of five years to be able to continue to learn. The boy added that if he did not receive this commitment he would not consider the shidduch. The Chofetz Chaim then asked the bachur how long he expected to live. The bachur responded he hopes to live at the very least to seventy or eighty years and hopefully more. this age range was just the minimum. The Chofetz Chaim continued, “And who will support you for the remaining sixty-five to seventy years? The bachur immediately jumped and exclaimed ,“Why should I worry about that now?” The Chofetz Chaim responded, ”So… you are guaranteed the 65-70 years, but it is only the first five years that you are worried about?” This attitude is not new, but like everything else there is precedent from the Torah.

In this week’s parshas Korach the Torah states in Bamidbar 16:1 "ויקח קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי, ודתן ואבירם בני אליאב ואון בן פלת בני ראובן" “ Korach the son of Yitzhar (a grandson of Kehas and a great-grandson of Levi) began a rebellion along with Dasan and Aviram (sons of Eliav) and On, son of Peles, descendants of Reuvain”. The Midrash Shocher Tov 49:3 states Dasan and Aviram had two traits;:brazenness and divisiveness. It was they who said to Moshe, “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us!” It was Dasan and Aviram who said, ”Let us appoint a captain and return to Egypt.” .It was Dasan and Aviram who rebelled at the Sea of Reeds. But one of the greatest direct challenges to Moshe and indirect challenges to Hashem was when they left over manna because they had a trust issue.

The characters in the stories earlier behaved and acted in the same way as Dasan and Aviram. They left over manna for the next day, they were only worried about tomorrow but not worried about the days after that. Seems if they were concerned for the future, they would have stored up a lot of manna. Apparently, down the road they would eventually have put their trust in Hashem but certainly not the very next day. How foolish it is to only be concerned with the immediate future and take matters into our own hands , claiming we/they are not concerned about the distant future. Dasan and Aviram were not of the highest moral caliber. The leftover manna bred worms and rotted. The Midrash Tanchuma Tzetzaveh 11, referring to Shmos 16:20, describes swarms of ants marched out of the tents of Dasan and Aviram and entered the tents of the B’Nei Yisrael. Ultimately, the Midrash Rabbah 18:5 relates on the words: “Woe is to the wicked man, woe to his neighbor! “ Because Dasan and Aviram were neighbors of Korach, they were smitten with him and perished from the world.

We are living in uncertain and challenging times. The only certainty we need to know is to do our Hishtadlus, to make a positive effort navigating the storm of today and to reach up Heavenward for signs, direction, and strength.

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky


Mon, January 25 2021 12 Shevat 5781