Category Archives: Parshas Korach

Parshas Korach: Women Are Better Than Men At this!

Parshas Korach

Women Are Better Than Men At this!

The entire congregation of Bnei Yisroel complained…against Moshe and Aharon, saying: “You have killed the people of Hashem” (Bamidbar 17:6)

A pregnant Temma was very excited as she headed to her doctor’s appointment. She was looking forward to hearing good news about her baby. The doctor listened to the heartbeat of the fetus and told Temma that she was going to give birth to twins. Now Temma was doubly excited! The doctor sent Temma for an ultrasound. The ultrasound confirmed that Temma was having twins. However, it showed that one baby would be born healthy while the other would be born physically and mentally deficient. Temma was devastated! She went for a second opinion which only confirmed the first one. When the Jewish, but irreligious, doctor saw Temma’s tears, he said to her, “You are lucky that you are religious because you know how to pray.” Temma and her husband spent the rest of the pregnancy davening intensely. Her tefillos did help. Although the second twin was born physically disabled, it was not mentally disabled. The author concludes,”As frum Jews who are brought up davening from a young age, we often don’t appreciate the concept of Tefillah enough. We often think of it as a burden. It took an irreligious doctor to make Temma realize what a powerful tool tefillah can be.” (Sparks of Majesty by Genendel Krohn)

Rav Yeshaya Bordecky was on a boat that capsized. He was thrown into the water with his two young children. He held onto his children and began swimming to a nearby shore. It was exhausting work. Soon Rav Yeshaya realized that he did not have the strength to continue. The only way he would be able to save himself and one of his children would be to let go of the second child, leaving her to drown. He pushed himself a little more, but then had no choice. He started letting go of one of his children. The child screamed and pleaded, ‘Tatty, don’t let go!” The painful cry pierced Rav Yeshaya’s soul. He grabbed his daughter and finding strength which he had not known that he had, swam to shore, saving both children. (In the Spirit of the Maggid by Rabbi Paysach Krohn)

The Talmud (Berachos 32B) says, “If one davens and is not answered, let him reinforce himself and daven again.” Prayer comes from the depths of our hearts. Often, we can “dig deeper and deeper”, more than we ever thought was possible. That type of prayer is much more powerful.

Korach was a very prestigious person. He instigated a terrible machlokes, quarrel, with Moshe Rabbeinu. He claimed that Moshe was making some things up on his own and pretending that Hashem had said them. He falsely said that Moshe had made certain leadership appointments on his own, and not by the direction of Hashem. Undermining Moshe Rabbeinu was a very serious action. It was undermining all the teachings that Hashem had instructed Moshe to teach. Korach persuaded many others to join his rebellion. In addition, 250 of Korach’s followers felt that they deserved to be the kohain gadol instead of Aharon HaKohain.  Moshe told them that there could only be one kohain gadol. As a test to see which one person Hashem already chose to be the kohain gadol, Moshe told the 250 men, as well as Korach and Aharon Hakohain, to offer the ketores sacrifice. He explained that only the kohain gadol was permitted to offer that sacrifice. Anyone else who offered that sacrifice would perish. They chose to offer the sacrifice. Korach and his followers were punished for their role in this terrible machlokes. They and all their possessions were swallowed by the earth. Then, a fire came from Hashem and burned the 250 men. The Jewish people understood why Korach and his other followers had to be punished. However, they were upset that the 250 men were burned since they brought the sacrifice with sincerity. “The entire congregation of Bnei Yisroel complained…against Moshe and Aharon, saying: “You have killed the people of Hashem” (Bamidbar 17:6). Targum Onkelos explains that the Jewish People complained that Moshe and Aharon had caused those deaths.


Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l asks, How could the Jewish People think that Moshe and Aharon caused the deaths of the 250 men? The men were warned numerous times what the consequences would be. The Riva explains that Moshe gave them ample warning. He clearly told them that only one person would survive this test. Only the individual whom Hashem had already chosen to be the kohain gadol would survive this test. Rashi (Bamidbar 17:2) says that these 250 men were negligent and careless about their lives. That is why the pasuk (Bamidbar 17:3) says that they “sinned with their lives”.

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Derash Moshe) answers that the Jewish People felt that the memory of this machlokes, this rebellion started by Korach would fade in time, by the next generation. The next generation would know about the miracles that Moshe had performed to quelch this rebellion. They would have total faith In Moshe and would realize that Korach’s position had no merit. Based on this thinking, the Jewish People felt that Moshe should have davened to Hashem to spare the 250 men. They said to Moshe, “You have killed the people of Hashem” because Moshe did not daven for their survival. The Jewish People’s evaluation was erroneous. Hashem knew the power and influence that machlokes could have. This is evidenced by the fact that we are still in galus from the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash which resulted from sinas chinam, baseless hatred, which stemmed from machlokes. Hashem knew that these men had to die to stop the influence of machlokes.

According to Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl”’s explanation, the Jewish People felt that Moshe had caused the deaths of the 250 men because he did not daven for them!! Wow! They felt that Moshe’s not davening was considered as if he had caused their deaths!

How many people do we know who need our tefillos? We must daven for them!


Women have a special power of tefillah, moreso than men. Rav Henach Leibowitz zt”l cited the following from our sages: King Yoshiyahu was a very big Tzadik. He encouraged and succeeded in bringing almost the entire Jewish People to teshuvah. He destroyed all the idols and evils done by his predecessor, King Menashe. King Yoshiyahu had hoped that his actions would avert the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. The only thing that was still needed was tefillah. King Yoshiyahu sent an emissary to one of the prophets at that time, to daven to avert the destruction. Yirmiyahu was the leading navi at that time. He dearly loved the Jewish People and would certainly have davened with totality of heart for them. Yet, he was not the prophet that King Yoshiyahu sent for. Rather, he sent the message to the prophetess Chulda. Why? The Rav Henach Leibowitz zt”l explained that a woman has more compassion and mercy in her heart than a man. Therefore King Yoshiyahu felt that her prayer would be more successful.

A woman’s heartfelt tefillah has greater depth and can accomplish more than that of a man.

We all have an obligation to daven for those in need!

Even moreso, women who have a greater power of prayer, should daven for those in need.


Parshas Korach: Be a Thinking Person!

Parshas Korach

Be a Thinking Person!


“And Moshe heard and fell on his face.” (Bamidbar 16:4)

Korach was exceedingly smart and was one of the richest men in history. He had the privilege of being from the family of Kehas, which was privileged to carry the holy Aron HaKodesh. He was also a prophet, seeing futuristically the great people who would be his descendants. Unfortunately, all this was not enough for him. Korach became jealous of an appointment which he felt that he should have received. As a result of his jealousy, Korach instigated a terrible dispute and questioned the legitimacy of Moshe and Aharon’s leadership. His dispute was actually against the validity of the Torah and Hashem. Korach and his followers were, therefore, punished by being burnt, by the earth swallowing them up, or a combination of both.

Korach falsely accused Moshe of having made up parts of the Torah. Korach approached Moshe in a very demeaning way. Korach said that it did not make sense that a garment made totally of techailes (blueish wool) still needed a string of techailes tzitzis. He claimed that a room full of Sifrei Torah should not need a mezuzah on the doorpost (Rashi on Bamidbar 16:1).  Korach then told Moshe and Aharon that the entire Jewish People were holy, and that Moshe and Aharon had taken too much of the leadership for themselves (Bamidbar 16:3). Moshe & Aharon were devastated by the serious dispute that Korach was promulgating. The Torah (Bamidbar 16:4) records Moshe’s reaction. “And Moshe heard and fell on his face.” Rashi explains that this was already the fourth major sin that the Jews were involved in. Moshe’s tefillos had saved them until now. Moshe felt that this was one time too many and he could not approach Hashem in prayer. Interestingly, what was Aharon’s reaction? Why didn’t he also fall on his face? Rabbeinu Bachya explains that Korach’s main complaint was directed at Aaron’s appointment as Kohain Gadol. It would have been unbecoming for the modest Aaron to remonstrate by displaying such a reaction. The Ramban explains that Aaron, in his modesty and holiness, did not utter a word throughout this whole controversy. He held his peace, seemingly admitting that Korach’s status was greater than his own, and that he had only become the Kohain Gadol because that was what Hashem had wanted.

Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Beifus in Yalkut Lekach Tov, quotes the Midrash Rabbah (Bamidbar 18:9) gives an example of Aharon’s extreme modesty at an earlier point in time. At the dedication of the Mishkan, Moshe anointed Aharon. When the oil was placed on Aharon’s head, he had trembled, feeling that perhaps he didn’t deserve the appointment as Kohain Gadol. If that was true, then benefitting from the holy anointing oil would have deserved the serious punishment of kares.

The great Aharon was always contemplating if he truly deserved such honors. Korach was different. The Midrash Rabbah continues, that Moshe had told Korach numerous things to try to appease him and to calm his wrath. Korach did not respond to any of Moshes’s entreaties. Korach did so intentionally. Korach said to himself that if he answered Moshe, Moshe would respond. Since Moshe was smarter than Korach, Korach was concerned that Moshe would counter all his arguments and win the debate. Korach was not interested in that, thus he remained silent.

Aristotle was similar in this way to Korach. Rabbi Yisroel Brog quotes the Rambam as saying that Aristotle was so brilliant, that he was on a level just below prophecy. Aristotle should have recognized the obvious fact that there is Creator who created Man for a purpose. Just like Korach, Aristotle wanted to block the obvious from his mind. Aristotle was extremely immoral. He wanted to push the idea of Hashem out of his mind, to enable himself to continue in his immoral ways.

Aharon was a thinking person. Korach and Aristotle chose not to be thinking people. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto, in the third perek of his sefer Mesilas Yesharim (Path of the Just) discusses the importance of being thinking people. Before we act, we should stop and think if the action is appropriate. If it is appropriate, we should think if there is any aspect of the act that can be improved. After we act, we should also stop and think. Was the action proper? Was there any aspect of it, in thought or deed, that could be improved for the future?

If we go through life as thinking people, we will be better people. That refers to actions we do to others, as well as actions that we do to/for Hashem. We won’t act in a rash manner, and we won’t act inappropriately. We will have better quality and happier interpersonal relationships and a closer and better relationship with Hashem.