Rabbi Reisman – Parshas Korach 5782
1 – Topic – A Lesson from the GR”A about your mistakes from a Rashi in the Parsha
As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Korach and the first Shabbos of Chodesh Tammuz, a month in which we feel a special longing for Eretz Yisrael and the Beis Hamikdash. May we be Zoche to be there very soon. Let me start with a not well known Vilna Gaon that actually comes from the GR”A on the Hagaddah.
Let me begin with the Parsha. Rashi in 16:4 says that after the incident of Korach, Moshe Rabbeinu had a sense of Yiush. He said (שכבר זה בידם סרחון רביעי). This is already the fourth time that there has been a major event of rebellion against HKB”H. At the Eigel it says (Shemos 32:11) (ויחל משה) that Moshe Davened. By the Misoninim it says (Bamidbar 11:12) (ויתפלל משה) that Moshe Davened. By the Miraglim which is the third instance, it says (Bamidbar 14:13) (ויאמר משה אל ר' ושמעו מצרים). By the (במחלוקתו של קרח) says Rashi (נתרשלו ידיו). He felt weak and said this is the fourth time and that is a problem.
What is the Segulah of a fourth time? Why is the fourth time in particular a problem? There is no doubt that Chazal got this from the Nevua of Amos. Amos’ Nevua part of which is in Parshas Vayeishev’s Haftorah, is a Nevua of 2:1 (עַל-שְׁלֹשָׁה פִּשְׁעֵי מוֹאָב, וְעַל-אַרְבָּעָה לֹא אֲשִׁיבֶנּוּ) and then 2:4 (עַל-שְׁלֹשָׁה פִּשְׁעֵי יְהוּדָה, וְעַל-אַרְבָּעָה לֹא אֲשִׁיבֶנּוּ). HKB”H says for three Aveiros I can sometimes look the other way and not be so strict, but the fourth one that is very serious. What is the seriousness of the fourth one Davka?
The GR”A in the Hagaddah of the GR”A, in Dibbur Hamaschil (דִּי אֲכָלוּ אַבְהָתָנָא) near the beginning of the Hagaddah, says a fascinating Klal. He says Bechol Makom HaShlishi Kolel Ha’rivii. It says the fourth is always connected to the first three. Three and four are always connected. The words are somewhat mysterious as is the Derech of the GR”A. When the GR”A says things like that, that when you have a number four you will notice that the third is Kolel the fourth, we don’t know what it means. The Derech of the GR”A is that the more you think about it, the more you see that of course he is right. When I first saw his words that the fourth is always connected to the third I wondered what it meant. Then I started thinking (אַרְבַּע מִי יוֹדֵעַ) who knows four? (אַרְבַּע אִמָּהוֹת). Sara is by herself as Eishes Avraham. Rivka is by herself as Eishes Yitzchok. The third and the fourth, Rachel and Leah are intertwined. So three and four are intertwined.
There are four Tannaisim in the year, beginning with Tzom Gedalya which stands by itself, Asara B’teves which stands by itself, then Shiva Asar B’tzammuz and Tisha B’av go together. They are the beginning and end of what we call Bein Hametzarim, of the three weeks. So there is some sort of connection from the third to the fourth.
We have four Yomim Tovim in the year. Pesach stands by itself. Shavuos stands by itself. Sukkos and Shmini Atzeres are somehow intertwined. Again, we find as the GR”A says Bechol Makom HaShlishi Kolel Ha’rivii. The third and fourth are connected one to the other.
There are (ארבעה אבות נזיקין). Mammon Hamazik. Bor is for itself. Aish is for itself. Shein and Regel are actually intertwined. They are two of the same type, the same Dinim, the same Halachos.
The same thing is true about the Arba Kosos at the Pesach Seder. The first is by itself. The second is by itself. The third and the fourth have a Halacha that you are not allowed to be Mafsik between the third and the fourth Kos. Again, three and four are intertwined. Now, still we see that three and four are intertwined but the depth of the meaning I think is somehow lost on us.
However, there is a deeper understanding. A Muad is when an animal gores three times. The third is connected to the fourth in the sense that the animal becomes a Muad at the third but doesn’t pay Nezek Sholeim until the fourth. So that the third is sort of a preparation for the fourth. The third makes it a Muad and the fourth pays Nezek Sholeim.
The same thing, if you buy land you get a Chazaka after three years. What does that do? The three is a preparation for the fourth and in the fourth year you don’t have to keep your Shtar anymore. So that the fourth feeds off the first three.
Coming back to Parshas Korach. The Gemara says in Yoma 86b (22 lines from the bottom) (אדם עובר עבירה פעם ראשונה מוחלין לו שניה מוחלין לו שלישית מוחלין לו רביעית אין מוחלין לו). Hashem says (שנאמר כה אמר ר' על שלשה פשעי ישראל ועל ארבעה לא אשיבנו ). The idea being that if someone does an Aveira three times he has to break off from his bad habit. He can’t let it become the accepted practice the way he is. It is sort of a warning. The Muad is a warning if you kick three times, the fourth time it is going to happen automatically. The same thing, three times you talk during Chazaras Hashatz you better stop otherwise it is going to happen automatically and you are going to be a Muad to it. It is a whole different animal when it was a Tam and it was in a bad mood and it kicked as opposed to a Muad. An animal that is already a kicker so to speak. It becomes the person himself.
So that, if a person does something wrong once, twice and a third time, you have to catch yourself, you have to cut it off. Because the one, two and three make the fourth. They make that G-d forbid the fourth time a person becomes an Avaryon, a person who does Aveiros. The warning is, catch it early, catch it quickly. When the three leads to the four, the connection of the three and the four makes it something of significance, of permanence. (שכבר זה בידם סרחון רביעי). The fourth time that is Tzaros. And so, this is a lesson in understanding from the GR”A regarding this Rashi in this week’s Parsha.
2 – Topic – Our Desire for Greatness
I would like to talk about a Davar Klali, a general idea about the Aveira of Korach. Chassidim say, Unzere Heilige Zaida Korach. Korach his sin was in wanting more, in wanting a higher level. To be Kohen Gadol, to be Kohanim, wanting more Kedusha. It was a Bitul Mechitzos, a breaking down of boundaries. It is very dangerous in life to ignore boundaries. But there are two types of people that ignore boundaries. There are people who are Baalei Taiva, there are people like Amaleik that have personal desires, and therefore, they sort of stand at the edge of the roof, they don’t look at the boundary and they are likely to fall off. That is the Avaryon who ignores boundaries.
However, there are people who with good intention, who want more Kedusha, and they are striving to be higher, and they break boundaries. Moshe Rabbeinu is told by Har Sinai in Shemos 19:23 (הַגְבֵּל אֶת-הָהָר) put a boundary around the mountain. Jews are going to want to push and break the boundary and go up.
Rav Pam said that he never raised his voice to a Talmid as a Rebbi except once. Once there was a Talmid who was learning well, who said to Rav Pam I think when the Chofetz Chaim was my age he was greater than me. Rav Pam said that he got upset at the boy. He said the Chofetz Chaim? HKB”H gives the Chofetz Chaim to Klal Yisrael once in many generations. Who are you comparing yourself to?
Part of the curse of Yemos Hamoshiach is as it says in Maseches Sotah 49b (9 lines from the top) (נערים פני זקנים ילבינו). Literally that means that young people will not be respectful of their elders. Taken in a different way, part of (נערים פני זקנים ילבינו) is when people who should be striving to serve HKB”H on their level are pressed by the Yeitzer Hora to want more. To want to be Zekainim, they feel themselves as great as the Zekainim. It is a very dangerous thing.
Remember there was once a star basketball player here in our country. He was the best basketball player in basketball. He decided that he would become a professional baseball player for the Chicago White Sox. He was on one Chicago team for basketball and decided to be a baseball player. He thought that he is a great athlete that he will be a star baseball player too. What a flop! What an embarrassment. They came, they filled the stands to see him – to see him strikeout. A flop! What was his mistake? He ignored the boundaries. He had certain abilities and he convinced himself that he could get greater abilities. All right, not much harm done. He stroke out. At least he got the fans into the stadium which is what matters in baseball.
However, by us we have people who have a big Teshuka, a big desire to be closer to Hashem. So what does the Yeitzer Hora do? The Yeitzer Hora tells them learn Kabbalah. He takes the drive, breaks down boundaries and wants them to do more. That is a mistake. A person has to know where he is at. A person has to know where he is holding. You can’t fool yourself. Can’t sacrifice excellence in learning because you say I am not there. However, the Yeitzer Hora if he can’t tell you to stop learning he will tell you to learn, learn, learn, learn until you drop from exhaustion. That was Korach. Korach had a desire, a Teshuka for greatness, but what did he do? He pushed too much. From pushing too much he failed forever and he brought down many in Klal Yisrael with him.
And so, we have here two lessons. One lesson regarding your mistakes. If it happens once, twice, a third time catch yourself before you become a Shor Hamuad. And one regarding our desire for greatness. There are boundaries, stick with your boundaries. Know your boundaries. Grow one step at a time. You don’t go up a ladder by jumping, you go up a ladder by going up one step at a time and that is our job.
With that wonderful piece of advice, I urge you all to go into the summer with extra Sedorim on Shabbos. Shabbos afternoon is made for learning. Remember once upon a time when 4:30 was Shkiya and you went to Shul for Mincha at 4:30. Go by 4:30 now as well when Shkiya is 8:30 and that gives you four hours. It is a wonderful four hours to be using for good things. Make use of your Shabbos afternoons, make use of your summer. Let it be a summer of Aliya for all of us. A Gutten Shabbos to one and all!