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Korach 5769

Korach (Numbers 16-18 )

by Kalman Packouz

I shared with you the Secret of Life according to my friend, Rabbi Pliskin. For those who missed it or don't remember: (1) Keep breathing. The longer you breathe, the longer you live. (2) Attitude. Likely, there are those who read the piece and said, "That's easy for you to say! If you've been through what I've been through, you wouldn't have written that." Therefore, this week I am sharing with you the "how" of keeping a positive attitude from a little booklet Aish produced called "The Secret of Happiness."

Ask anyone, "What would you rather be: happy or rich?" Almost everyone will answer "I'd rather be happy." However, most people work at being rich far more than they work at being happy.


Before I share with you the secret of happiness, we have to get rid of two misconceptions.

1. It is possible to know how to be happy, to be convinced that these tools will work, and not do a thing about it. This is because learning any new skill requires effort and some discomfort. There's no magic potion. So, don't mistakenly assume that just because you can't put something into action, this means that you don't believe it. You can think it'll work... and still be lazy.

2. People often think that the secret of happiness must be some hidden Kabbalistic mystery or exotic activity. The truth is that it's simple and easy to understand. It's something every person knows, but just doesn't focus that he knows it.


Imagine standing on the 70th floor of the Empire State building. Suddenly, a man opens a window and says, "I'm going to jump!" You call out, "Stop! Don't do it!" And he replies, "If you try to stop me, I'll take you with me!"

The guy is 6'5" and weighs 260 pounds, so you say, "OK ... but any last messages? Perhaps there's someone I should notify?" He says, "You seem like an intelligent, friendly person. I'll give you 15 minutes to try to dissuade me, but first let me tell you my troubles so you'll understand why I want to jump."

For hours you listen to him tell you about the most horrific misfortunes and tragedies. You've never heard stories like this. By the end, you're crying your eyes out. Finally, he turns to you and says, "I'm miserable. Why should I go on living?"

What can you possibly say? Suddenly, you get a flash of inspiration! "Sir, if on top of all your troubles you also happened to be blind, would you be more or less miserable?" He replies, "Certainly, more miserable!" You then continue, "So you would then definitely jump?" "Of course!" he replies.

"Now, imagine that you're leaning out the window about to jump and suddenly there's a miracle. You can see! You see people, the sun, clouds, birds flying in the sky! Would you jump ... or would you wait a week to look around?"

The man answers, "I suppose I'd stick around for a week." "What about all of your troubles and miseries?" you ask. "So, what? Now I can see!"

If a person really appreciates that he can see then all of his miseries are nothing. On the other hand, if you take everything you have for granted, nothing you'll ever receive in life will bring you lasting happiness. The secret of happiness is to really appreciate what you have.


Here's how it works. Everyone has a cousin or an aunt who loves to complain. Let's call her Aunt Sophie. The next time you visit your Aunt Sophie and she wants to tell you for 2 hours about her miseries, say to her very respectfully, "Auntie, I came to suffer with you. But, before we suffer, please tell me about five pleasures you had today."

"Pleasures? What pleasures?" Aunt Sophie responds. "Auntie, I'm going to leave right now if you don't share with me some of today's pleasures!" She's stuck. "Tell me, did you have a cup of coffee this morning?" "Yes, I had a coffee" says Aunt Sophie. Make her focus on the pleasure. "Did you close your eyes and take in the aroma? Was the coffee warm and sweet? Did it give you energy?" Relive the pleasure with her. She'll have to do it because she wants to satisfy your request so that she can start to complain.

"Okay. It was sweet and nice," she says. "Now can I complain?" "Not yet, Aunt Sophie. Tell me four more pleasures." "I didn't have any more," says she! "Did you wash your face? Did you have a warm shower? Did that feel good? Were you out in the sun today?" Relive it for her. After walking her through five pleasures, her complaints will be far less bitter.

Appreciating the pleasures we have is simple and effective. Every evening when you sit down with your family or a friend, discuss five pleasures each of you experienced that day. Incorporate this into your daily ritual - especially if you have children. Eventually, those around you will be focused throughout the day on what pleasures they had so that they can share them with you.

For more on "Happiness" go to!

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Torah Portion of the Week

There are two rebellions this week. First, Korach, a Levite who was passed over for the leadership of his tribe, challenges Moshe over the position of High Priest. No good rebellion can be "sold" as a means for personal gain, so Korach convinces 250 men of renown that they must stand up for a matter of principle - that each and every one of them has the right to the office of High Priest (which Moshe had already announced that God had designated his brother Aharon to serve as the High Priest).

Fascinatingly, all 250 followers of Korach accept Moshe's challenge to bring an offering of incense to see who God will choose to fill the one position. This meant that every man figured he would be the one out of 250 to not only be chosen, but to survive the ordeal. Moshe announces that if the earth splits and swallows up the rebels it is a sign that he (Moshe) is acting on God's authority. And thus it happened!

The next day the entire Israelite community rises in a second rebellion and complains to Moshe, "You have killed God's people!" The Almighty brings a plague which kills 14,700 people ... and only stops when Aharon offers an incense offering.

To settle the question once and for all, Moshe has the head of each tribe bring a staff with his name on it. The next morning only Aharon's staff had blossomed and brought forth almonds. The people were shown this sign. Aharon's staff was placed in front of the curtain of the ark as testimony for all time.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

When Moshe reprimands Korach for seeking the priesthood, he concludes:

"Therefore, you and your congregation who gather together are against the Almighty; and Aharon, who is he that you complain against him?" (Numbers 16:11)

What did Moshe mean when he said, "and Aharon, who is he"?

Rabbi Shlomo Kluger comments that when someone verbally abuses a very distinguished personage and then disparages a common person, the common person won't take great offense. This is what Moshe was saying to Korach. Since you are really complaining against the Almighty, how can your words hurt Aharon? He will easily remain oblivious to what you say since he sees that you also have complaints against the Almighty.

Our lesson: When we come in contact with a very critical person, we need not take offense at what he says. This is the way he speaks to all people so there is no reason to take it personally. Realize that the problem is his, not yours, and you free yourself from any possible hurt feelings from what he says.

(or go to

Jerusalem 7:14
Guatemala 6:17 - Hong Kong 6:52 - Honolulu 6:58
J'Burg 5:06 - London 9:03 - Los Angeles 7:50
Melbourne 4:51 - Mexico City 8:00 - Miami 7:58

New York 8:13 - Singapore 6:56 - Toronto 8:44


Happiness is the absence of
the striving for happiness.
--  Chuang-Tzu

With Deep Appreciation to

Michael and Judy Green

Hong Kong

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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