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Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat we bless the month of Tammuz and read the portion of Korach. Korach was a Levi, Moshe Rabbeinu’s cousin. He led a rebellion against Moshe and Aharon, challenging Aharon’s right as the Kohen Gadol (High Priest). Hashem quelled the rebellion, and the rebels were either swallowed by the ground or consumed by flames from heaven. Last week, we read the narrative of the spies, who rebelled against Moshe and didn’t want to go to Israel. Hashem punished them with miraculous deaths. Seemingly, why didn’t Korach learn his lesson from the spies?

Chassidic teaching gives a deeper understanding to the narrative of the spies. The spies were great men, leaders, personally picked by Moshe. Having witnessed the miracles of the exodus, why did they fear the inhabitants of the land? Chassidut explains that their fear was not of the inhabitants, but of the living in the land itself. In the desert, the Jews lived a purely spiritual lifestyle, unhindered by agriculture and business. They studied Torah all day, constantly witnessing the miracles of Hashem. Upon entering Israel, this would cease. They would till the land, harvest the fruits, and fulfill the commandments in their physical sense, but lack the focus to feel spirituality. This was hinted in their complaint “the land swallows its inhabitants.” Thus they preferred the desert. Their error was that Hashem’s will is in the physical Mitzvah, a person living actively in this world and subjugating the physical by doing Mitzvot.

Upon hearing this, Korach was inspired to rebel. If the main thing is the physical acts, he reckoned, I am the same as Moshe and Aharon. In spirituality, Moshe outdistances me: Hashem spoke directly to him and he knows the depth of each Mitzvah. In action, however, we are equal.

He erred, however. Just as a person is a composite of a body and a soul, a Mitzvah is a composite of a deed and its depth and meaning. The Zohar teaches that a Mitzvah without intent (kavana) is like a body without a soul. The intent serves like wings, raising the deeds to heaven. The deeds of Moshe were the same as those of Korach, but they were imbued with the fervor of one who had spoken to G-d. By connecting ourselves to Moshe, Moshe’s light illuminates our Mitzvot. By separation from Moshe, the actions lose their soul. This is also the significance of Tzaddikim throughout all generations. The Tanya explains that the spiritual and physical blessings of the generation come through the soul of the Tzaddik.

Korach was the epitome of divisiveness. Divisiveness brought the destruction of the Temple and unity will bring its rebuilding. May we merit the coming of Moshiach speedily and to the universal peace he will bring.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs

In merit of Dinah Bat Tamar for a full and immediate recovery

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