PARSHAT KORACH 5777
‘EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON A PERSON’S WIFE’ – SECRETS OF THE TORAH WITH RAV ELIEZER BERLAND, SHLITA
(Translated and abridged from a shiur published in the Divrei Nachal Novea Newsletter, Number 11, Tammuz 5777)
1. In truth, everything depends on a person’s wife, when he has a wife who’s a tzaddeket, she will lead him on the right derech (path), and if he has a wife who is not a tzaddeket, she’ll pull him off the derech.
And this is what happened to Korach. Korach was a Tzaddik – a true Tzaddik. It’s written in Likutey Halachot, in Yoreh Deah Part 2, Shiloach HaKen (4, 8), that Korach was a true Tzaddik, but that his wife slowly, slowly succeeded in leading him astray. Because everything that happens to a person depends on what sort of wife he has, and each person can raise his wife up to the level of [being able to receive] prophecy, as it’s written Be Tanna DeVey Eliyahu (Raba chapter 9), where it’s written:
‘I take heaven and earth as my witnesses’ – that Eliyahu Hanavi ‘captured’ heaven and earth [to testify] that every wife could possess ruach hakodesh (the spirit of prophecy), that every wife could be a prophetess, and this depends solely on the husband.
If the husband raises up his wife, then she can be a prophetess – someone who has ruach hakodesh. All the spiritual levels that a wife achieves depend upon her husband. If Sarah was a greater prophet than Avraham (as brought in the Midrash Tanchuma, Shemot, 1:1, and also by Rashi on Bereishit, 21:12), it’s because Avraham prayed with kavana (intent), and when Avraham prayed with kavana, the spirit of prophecy was passed along to Sarah, even twice as much (as he himself possessed).
And it’s written Be Tanna DeVey Eliyahu:
“Devorah the prophetic woman, wife of Lapidot, she judged Israel at that time (Shoftim 4:4). And at that time, there was Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen, the Kohen HaGadol, and this was at the [same] time that Devorah was a prophetess. At that time, the Kohen HaGadol was in Shilo, and everyone left Pinchas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen, and went to Devorah, because Devorah had ruach hakodesh (the spirit of prophecy), and used to judge by way of her words, and prophesize about them. And Pinchas ben Elazar was also in those days.
MOSHE RABBENU CUT OFF EVERYONE’S PAYOT
2. Moshe Rabbenu cut off everyone’s payot (side curls). The man came home and suddenly, he doesn’t have a beard and payot. And this is what the wife of Korach always used to say to him: ‘You’ll see! One day he’ll get you to cut off your beards and payot! He’s crazy, he’s not normal. Now, he’s having some sort of fit, last time it was a different sort of fit – everything’s just one big fit of madness, by him!
‘Now, he’s having a big, mad fit to get out of Mitzrayim (Egypt), tomorrow he’ll have another big fit and take you back to Mitzrayim, now he’s having a mad fit to cut off your payot, tomorrow he’ll be telling you to grow your payot back – everything’s just a mad fit! It’s not like he’s really just got some Divine inspiration here, everything’s just madness!’
And this is how the wife of Korach used to talk to him, day and night: ‘Ok, he brought a few lice… he arranged for a few frogs to show up…you see, that’s the sort of thing he knows how to do.’
THE EGYPTIANS DIDN’T REALLY BELIEVE IN HASHEM
Even though [the Egyptians] said about the lice: ‘This is the finger of God’ the commentators explain that this didn’t mean that they believed that Hashem ruled the world. They didn’t believe that it came from Hashem, they said: ‘There is no Elokim (God)’ – this is Mother Nature.’ They said that there was just some higher force of nature, ‘The finger of God’. ‘We can go up to here, and Moshe has managed to reveal some other magical force, some other hidden force – but everything’s still just kishufim (dark side magical forces)!’
They didn’t think that ‘The finger of God’ meant that there was a Higher Power that could really take Am Yisrael out of Mitzrayim; or that could overturn Pharoah’s decrees; or that could fight against Pharoah.
[They said that]: ’Ok, there’s a few lice that he could bring here, but to get them out of Mitzrayim, out of [the Egyptian city of] Pithom? He can bring ‘The finger of God’, we see there’s some sort of more powerful force, we’ll publicize that, that Moshe Rabbenu has surpassed us, he’s overtaken us. Sooner or later, we’ll defeat him. If everything is kishufim, the day will come when we’ll discover more magic, we’ll learn a little more kishufim, we’ll find some genius who knows more than Moshe Rabbenu to teach us new kishufim – but ultimately, everything is just ‘The finger of God’!’
They never, ever mentioned Hashem’s ineffable name, YKVK, they never uttered the word YKVK. ‘Who is Hashem?! I’m not acquainted with YKVK…’
KORACH TOLD MOSHE: ‘THE SEA SPLIT IN MY MERIT!’
3. In Likutey Halachot, Shiloach HaKen, (halacha 4, 8]: ‘And this is the machloket (controversy) of Korach, and of all his community, etc’. He brings in section 8 how Korach was prepared to go against Hashem, and against His moshiach:
[Korach said]: ‘What, you can bring down Torah? You can split the sea? No way!’ he said to him. ‘I split the sea! The sea parted in my merit! If I’d been chosen, I could have also brought down the Torah! We should have voted on the person that Hashem would pick! It shouldn’t be that some guy shows up in an arbitrary fashion and starts to rule over everyone. They would have voted for me! We would have held an election, and then Hashem would have picked me.
‘I’d have heard a bat kol (voice from Heaven) ‘come up to see Elokim’, like Moshe got – except that Moshe is over-ruling the people! So, God is talking to him. But if they’d have been able to vote for me, I would have had the merit [instead]…’
FOUR WHO ENTERED THE PARDESS
[Korach] got into all sorts of terrible errors of judgment like this, and why did it all happen? Rav Natan explains that it’s from the aspect of the ‘Four who entered the pardess (orchard’, and that it all began because there was some sort of ‘concealment of da’at’ (knowledge). Because every person has strictures and judgements, every person is full of kooshiot (spiritual difficulties / questions), every person is full of the yetzer hara (evil inclination), every person is full of spiritually impure blood.
So, he doesn’t realize that all of his kooshiot are coming from his impure blood, the same as happened with Eliezer, Avraham’s servant, who had a million difficult questions about Avraham Avinu.
‘Why doesn’t he want my daughter? Why does he want the daughter of Saddam Hussein? Dafka, he’s sending me off to Baghdad?! ‘In Baghdad, go and stand next to the water, and whoever gives you a drink of water, you’ll know that’s your bride, that’s the bride of Yitzhak.’ Pure madness! He must be completely crazy to believe something like that…’
[Eliezer] had a billion kooshiot about Avraham Avinu. ‘What, I have here a daughter who is well-bred, and who was born here, and who grew up in Avraham’s school. And after that, she went to Avraham’s seminary, and she listened to all of Avraham’s cassettes.’ [But Avraham still said to him]:
‘No, dafka, go to Baghdad, and from there you’ll bring back home the daughter of Bethuel, the biggest rasha (evildoer) in the world…’
EVERYTHING IS PURE RACISM
How’s it possible to understand this? It’s really very simple: it’s clearly a case of racism. Everything is pure racism. He dafka wants his own family, dafka, someone from his own race, dafka, he wants his brother’s niece. What’s going on here?
Rabbi Natan explains that at the very moment that a person has his daat (understanding) diverted away from the Tzaddik, in whatever way…Then, even though Korach was such a big Tzaddik, and was responsible for the aron (holy ark of the covenant), and had his nose in the air, and had a holy angel incarnated inside of him…like all of those who heard the Ten Commandments ‘became pregnant’ with holy angels…
His error was to encompass the judgment that gave him the space to make mistakes, because at the moment that he had a diversion of his daat away from Moshe Rabbenu, so at that very moment he provoked against himself the midda of din (harsh judgment), and Hashem sent against him.
It’s written (in Iyov, 28:22): “And it will be sent against him, and he won’t be spared.” And Hashem sent everything against him. You’re starting to ponder, you’re starting to think [badly] about Moshe Rabbenu, and without having any reason to think [badly about Moshe Rabbenu?] Ok now then, so Moshe Rabbenu is exploiting him, fired him from some job, so now he has an unjustifiable grudge…
But Korah accompanied the aron, and had the job of carrying the aron, and solely because he was jealous, [he lost everything]. Because there is no apology or pardon you can make for jealousy. Hashem isn’t prepared to forgive jealousy, because never mind that a person will eat, they’ll eat another slice of cake, when it comes to jealousy that is no apology and no forgiveness.
A JEALOUS PERSON WON’T BE RESURRECTED AT TECHIYAT HAMEITIM
A jealous person won’t be resurrected at techiyat hameitim (the resurrection of the dead). When a person is jealous, they have no tikkun (spiritual rectification), they don’t have anything, because this is kafira (heresy), this is not believing in Hashem, and not believing in Hashem’s hashgacha (supervision), that all the tasks are decided from Heaven, and that everything is from Heaven.
Never mind, that a person took your slice of bread, that they took your parnassa (ability to earn a living), that they opened another store opposite yours, or whatever else is making you resent them – no-one did anything to you, here! You still have a part to play, you’re still flying by yourself anyway, you’re still flying with the aron! (See Tractate Sotah 35:72 which explains how the Ark used to ‘carry’ the people who were carrying it).
What Aharon didn’t merit to do, what Moshe didn’t merit to do, you merited to do it! What else do you want? You’ve been flying with the aron for the last 30 days! But in the instant that Korach had his daat diverted away [and went against Moshe]…
EVERY PERSON IS FULL OF JUDGMENTS EXCEPT FOR THE TRUE TZADDIK
Every person is still full of judgments, except for the true Tzaddik. A person is full of judgments, except for Aharon HaKohen who was only chessed (kindness), but everyone [else] is full of judgments. Judgments were at his [Koresh’s] root, as soon as they were ‘sweetened’ and he became jealous of Aharon, then immediately at the moment that Korach allowed the jealousy to ferment inside of him [he went against Moshe].
Because, everyone has jealousy, but a ‘normal’ person immediately silences it… it’s written in the Gemara (Tractate Yoma 38:71) ‘A person can’t touch that which is prepared for his friend’. What, they took something from you? All right then, someone came to your house and emptied all of the food out your fridge. So now, you can pedantically harp on about it until you ‘win’:
Now, no makolet (corner store) is open. Exactly now, at 7am in the morning, how are you meant to run to the makolet? ‘My children need to go to school, and they took all my dairy produce…Now I need it! My children come before your children, you’re all sorted out now…’
So now, you’re holding a grudge against him, ‘why did you take all the stuff, all the dairy produce, all the cheese, from my fridge?!’ But he didn’t do anything to you! Just all of a sudden you saw that the neighbor has a nicer hat [than you do] – but how is that really affecting you?
 It’s brought in the Gemara that four sages entered the pardess (orchard), a metaphor for entering the realm of the deepest kabbalistic wisdom. Ben Azzai died, Ben Zoma went mad, Ben Avuyah (later called ‘Acher’) became a heretic, and only Rabbi Akiva went in and came out again unscathed.
 See: Tractate Shabbat, 88 and the Zohar on Parshat Vayishlach 172 and the commentary of the Meshek Eliezer 49 and in the Zohar Chai Bereishit 157 and Bemidbar 176.