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Korach 5779

Korach (Numbers 16-18 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  What values and beliefs do you hold dear in life? What lessons would you want to share with your family to carry on in their lives? Have you ever thought about writing a letter to your children?

In Jewish tradition, it was/is common for parents to leave an ethical will or write a letter to their children synthesizing their insights into life and give their instructions on how to live one's life. One of the most famous letters is that of the Ramban, Nachmanides, who was born in Spain in 1194. The following excerpt is the latter part of a letter written to his son. It is adapted from the translation in A Letter for the Ages by Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Feuer (which includes the letter in its entirety along with commentary). The book is available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.

Ramban's Letter to His Son

Let your words be spoken gently; let your head be bowed. Cast your eyes downward, and your heart heavenward; and when speaking, do not stare at your listener. Let all men seem greater than you in your eyes: If another is more wise or wealthy than yourself, you must show him respect. And if he is poor, and you are richer or wiser than he, consider that he may be more righteous than yourself: If he sins it is the result of error, while your transgression is deliberate.

In all your words, actions and thoughts -- at all times -- imagine in your heart that you are standing in the presence of the Holy one, Blessed is He, and that His Presence rests upon you. Indeed, the glory of the Almighty fills the universe. Speak with reverence and awe, like a servant who stands in the presence of his master. Act with restraint in the company of others: If one should call out to you, do not answer with a loud voice, but respond gently -- in low tones, as one who stands before his mentor.

Take care to always study Torah diligently so that you will be able to fulfill its commands. When you rise from study, ponder carefully what you have learned; see what there is in it which you can put into practice.

Review your actions every morning and evening, and in this way live all your days in repentance.

Cast external matters from your mind when you stand to pray; carefully prepare your heart in the presence of the Holy One. Purify your thoughts, and ponder your words before you utter them.

Conduct yourself in these ways in all your endeavors for as long as you live. In this way you will surely avoid transgression; your words, actions and thoughts will be flawless. Your prayer will be pure and clear, sincere and pleasing to God, Blessed is He...

Read this letter one a week and neglect none of it. Fulfill it, and in so doing, walk with it forever in the ways of the Almighty, may He be Blessed, so that you may succeed in your ways and merit the World to Come that lies hidden for the righteous. Every day that you shall read this letter, heaven shall answer your heart's desires...


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Torah Portion of the Week

Korach, Numbers 16:1 - 18:32

There are two rebellions this week. First, Korach, a Levite, was passed over for the leadership of his tribe and then 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 announced that God had already designated his brother, Aharon, to serve).

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

The Torah states:

"And Korach, the son of Izhar, the son of Kehas, the son of Levi, took ..." (Num. 16:1).

Why does the Torah give us Korach's genealogy here?

Rashi explains that the key reason for Korach's rebellion against Moshe was his envy of a relative who received honor which Korach believed should have belonged to him.

Envy is destructive. It prevents a person from enjoying his own blessings. When you focus on the success of another person and feel pain because of it, you are likely to do things that are highly counterproductive. Envy is one of the three things that totally destroy a person (Pirke Avos 4:28). The downfall of Korach was because of this trait. Not only did he not get what he wanted, but he lost everything he already possessed.

How does one overcome envy? The key is to focus on what you have and on what you can accomplish in this world. Envy arises when a person looks at others and compares himself to them. The ultimate that anyone can have in this world is happiness. When you master this trait by focusing on those things conducive to happiness, you need never to envy another person.


Candle Lighting Times

July 5
(or go to

Jerusalem 7:07
Guatemala 6:15 - Hong Kong 6:51 - Honolulu 6:58
J'Burg 5:05 - London 9:03 - Los Angeles 7:50
Melbourne 4:50 - Mexico City 7:59 - Miami 7:57
New York 8:12 - Singapore 6:52 - Toronto 8:44

Quote of the Week

Kindness is a language the deaf can hear
and the blind can see.



With Deep Appreciation to

Dr. Amichay Meirovitz

With Special Thanks to

Yoel Markowitz
Moshe Fried
Moshe Goldberg
Reuven Braun


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