Friday, June 24, 2011


Dispute That is Not for the Sake of Heaven


Sometimes, as we approach parashat Korach, we become so involved in lofty ideas and concepts that there is a danger of forgetting what Korach actually did, and the main lesson to be learned from the parasha. All kinds of explanations and reasons are offered for this episode, for the fact that this group rebelled against God, while the bottom line remains that there is no real explanation that can answer the question of why Korach acted as he did. This is the main message of the parasha: that a person who gets involved in conflict and argument acts illogically.

We look at great people who squabble with each other, and wonder: What got into that respectable, elderly man, who used to be so wise, to lead him into such foolishness? We forget that there is really no logic in a squabble.

In contrast to Korach's illogical behavior, Moshe and Aharon act with composure and equanimity. The Gemara, commenting on their demeanor, tells us:

The world exists only for the sake of Moshe and Aharon. There is it written, "What are we? (Va-anachnu ma – figuratively, we are ma)," while elsewhere it is written, "He hangs the world on nothingness" (belima).

Rabbi Ilaa said: The world exists only for the sake of one who holds himself back at a time of argument, as it is written: "He hangs the world on belima (figuratively, on restraint)." (Chullin 89a)

The world exists not by the merit of the pious, saintly ascetics of the world, but rather by the merit of someone who holds his mouth at a time of argument! It is specifically in this that a person's greatness is expressed.

We must remember that any person who gets into an argument has a "Kamtza" – a core of companions. He also has a "bar Kamtza" – people who dislike him. We should not think that if we enter into a dispute, we will be immune to the deterioration and illogic that always follows. We must elevate ourselves to the level upon which the world rests – the level of Moshe and Aharon, who held themselves back at a time of argument.

Adapted by Rami Yanai

Translated by Kaeren Fish

From the weekly Yeshivat Har Etzion Emails

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