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Parshas Korach - Stopping Time, Living in the Moment & Preparing for the Future                29 (26) Sivan 5784

07/05/2024 11:09:06 AM

Jul5

What do the following have in common? 1. this week’s Parsha having been read forty-seven years ago, 2. a message in the Beth Jacob ”Voice” printed twenty-five years ago, and 3. the passing of 1,892,160,000 seconds? This coming week will be the forty-seventh anniversary of my Bar Mitzva which took place at the Washington Hotel in Belle Harbor, N.Y.  When it comes to the lifespan of a man, Chaza”l point out - through the words of Dovid Hamelech in Tehilim 90:10 ,,"ימי שנותינו בהם שבעים שנה..."  “The days of our years in them [total] seventy years…”. Basically, the average life span of a man is seventy years, and when I was thirty-five years old, I wrote about passing that mid-point in my life. And now, this past Tuesday, the twenty-sixth of Sivan, I recognized the mid-point of my life and have only another 1,892,160,000 seconds (and counting/ticking) left in my life. That is predicated upon the blessing that people have bestowed upon me (and everyone else) to liveעד מאה ועשרים שנה   - until one hundred and twenty years. This is based upon the verse in Bereishis 6:3 "ויאמר ה' לא ידון רוחי באדם לעלם בשגם הוא בשר, והיו ימיו מאה ועשרים שנה"  “ “God said, My spirit will not continue to judge man forever, since he is nothing but flesh. His days shall be 120 years.”

Why is it that as children grow, they want time to pass more quickly, while adults, after a certain age, want time to slow down? I will take this thought a step further by considering how some people, who are chronologically adults, yet still have the energy and zest of children, somehow want time to go faster? Ultimately, the greatest question of all time is how do we get to age and at the same time live longer? The answer to all these questions is found in the book of Mishlei, written by the wisest of all men - King Solomon. Shlomo HaMelech, writing in Mishlei 15:27, tells us “ושונא מתנות יחיה” “One who hates gifts shall live.” We can derive from this quote that one who loves gifts will not live. Sefer Arvei Nachal, states that a person does not come into this world merely to partake of what he calls ‘silver bread’, because in the supreme world the soul is sustained for free without need for any nourishment. Therefore, if this person loves presents and gifts, what is the purpose for which he is living in this world?  Are we are not concerned for ‘silver bread’?

It is with this in mind we recall the Gemara Brachos daf Yud amud beis, ”The Rabbis taught that whoever wants to benefit should do as Elisha did, and whoever does not want to benefit from this world should act as Shmuel HaNavi acted. The Gemara explains that there are two ways to understand why a Neshama/soul comes into olam hazeh - this world:   1. The soul does not want to partake of the silver bread, and 2. The Neshama also wants things for free. The problem with that is that once someone gets even something small or little for free, that person - by human nature - will want to receive a great deal more.  This is why when the soul comes into this world and tastes even a little Torah for free, it wants much more! Therefore, the soul comes into this world in order to receive reward for the Torah learned and for the mitzvos performed. That is the reason the Gemara used Elisha as the individual to emulate – Elisha, who had received a portion in the supreme world prior to his birth, wanted to benefit even more greatly in this world. Someone who does not benefit from or partake in anything from this world emulates Shmuel HaNavi who did not benefit at all from this world!  On the other hand, it’s important to note that someone who only takes a little from this world and is satisfied, is a person who is counter intuitive to the above explanation.  And yet, we see from the Kohanim something completely different, which brings us to a side question from the reading this week’s Parshas Korach regarding the Matnas Kehuna, the Priestly gifts!

In this week’s Parshas Korach the Torah states in Bamidbar 18:7 "ואתה ובניך אתך תשמרו את כהנתכם לכל דבר המזבח ולמבית לפרכת ועבדתם, עבודת מתנה אתן את כהונתכם והזר הקרב יומת"  “You and your sons will be entrusted with your priesthood, so that your service shall include everything that pertains to the altar and to anything inside the cloth partition (see Vayikra 21:23). This is the gift of service that I have given you as your priesthood. Any unauthorized person who participates shall die.” We see from here that the Kohanim did, indeed, receive gifts. Perhaps we should invoke the idea of those who despise gifts shall live? The  answer, within this context, is obvious. Here, the Kohanim are receiving a gift which is the Avoda, the service to Hashem. The Gemara Yoma 68 describes how the Kohanim ate and partook of the sacrifices; it is through their eating of the Korban that the one offering the sacrifice receives atonement. That is why the Torah specifically mentions עבודת מתנה “gift of service I will give to the Kohanim”. The gift itself is the Avoda, the work in the Beis HaMikdash itself. And it is precisely that kind of gift which a person wants – and needs - more of.

When each of us enters this world, we seek physical pleasures; it is the ongoing quest for overt physical pleasure which causes a person to never be satisfied, to crave move and never feel satisfied.  A child craves the independence to obtain more of the physical world and will accept anything and everything life offers, so long as it precisely satisfies that craving. Therefore, the young child and the growing adolescent yearns to grow up quickly, to find a way to speed up time to reach the next – and the ongoing ‘next’ levels of satisfaction for physical, worldly things. As we physically, mentally, and spiritually age and mature, we slowly grow to realize that the only deepening experiences which are truly worthwhile are the spiritual pleasures of the world.  These are the precious gifts of inner growth and awareness that we need to gain access to the next world. It is at this point of mature awareness when we try to screech the passing of time to a halt and start to gather the important spirituality of Torah and Mitzvos to take with us to the world to come.

As I begin the second half of my life (hopefully to its completion) I have at last come to the recognition of what is truly important for the next world.   And it is at this momentous point of awareness that helps me to fully understand the deep, profound meaning of ‘fulfillment’, of purpose and mission.

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Fri, July 19 2024 13 Tammuz 5784