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Friday, June 23

The Weekly Shtikle - Korach

We are taught in Pirkei Avos (5:17) "Every controversy which is for the sake of Heaven will ultimately endure, but any controversy that is not for the sake of Heaven will ultimately not endure." The mishnah then proceeds to give examples. The example of a machlokes l'sheim Shamayim, the controversy for the sake of Heaven, is that of Hillel and Shamai. The example of the controversy that was not for the sake of Heaven is Korach and his entourage.

There is a glaring incongruity between the two examples given by the mishnah. The first, Hillel and Shamai, deals with the two sides of the controversy or dispute. The second, Korach and his entourage, strangely, deals with only one side of the dispute. The dispute was in fact between Korach, his entourage and Moshe. HaRav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l, gives the following answer in the name of the Nachlas David: The mishnah is zeroing in on a specific attribute in each dispute. Hillel and Shamai argued l'sheim Shamayim. That is, that although they constantly took contrary views, they always had a common goal - to establish the proper halachah. It was never a showdown of man vs. man, or school vs. school. Rather, it was a matter of what was the proper way. Thus, a common objective endured throughout and indeed, whenever Beis Hillel and Beis Shamai disagree in the mishnah, even though we follow Beis Hillel primarily, we are always given both sides. Indeed, the Mishna (Yevamos 1:4) also recounts that although Beis Hillel and Beis Shamai disagreed on matters directly relating to the validity of marriages and the status of tum'ah and taharah, they still trusted each other in practical applications.

Korach, on the other hand, lacked this very commonality of purpose within his own group. Although they appeared to be on the same side, they really did not share a common goal. Each member of the rebellion had his own selfish motives for joining the cause. It was each man for himself, not for each other. In the end, they were not fighting for what they felt was right but rather for what they felt they had coming to them. This was the argument of the righteous wife of On ben Peles who persuaded her husband to withdraw himself from the foolish uprising because there was simply nothing he would get out of it, as recounted by the gemara. The mishnah teaches us that due to this lack of unity and sincerity of cause, not only did the dispute itself disintegrate, but Korach's entire company disintegrated as well.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Just do it!
Dikdukian: Flee Market
Dikdukian: Vayikach Korach

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