Home Seniors Programs Special Needs Mommy and Me Join a Study Group Bat Mitzvah Program for Women of All Ages One on One Learning Giving
Opportunities
Parsha Points About Us Contact Us

Korach
Make B’nai Yisrael Great Again Print E-mail
Monday, 26 June 2017

In Memory of Linda Basch z”l, on her third yahrzeit* 

Korach, a member of the tribe of Levi took a group of 250 important people to rebel against Moshe and Aharon. Why would these intelligent leaders agree to follow Korach?

According to Ibn Ezra, B’nei Yisrael believed that it was Moshe’s decision (not God’s) to take the job of working in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) away from the bechorim (first born sons of every tribe) and transfer it to the Kohanim (priests) immediately after the sin of the golden calf. They were under the false impression that Moshe did this on purpose in order to give preference to his own family members. The Leviim (members of the tribe of Levi) were upset that they were chosen to be subservient to the Kohanim (Aharon, Moshe’s brother and his children). The tribe of Reuven felt that they were deprived of their birthright which was transferred to Joseph’s descendents. They suspected that Yehoshua favored his own tribe (Ephraim) over the other tribes.

Ramban explains that Korach did not yet have enough fuel for his fire after the sin of the golden calf so he did not start his rebellion at that time. Rather, he waited until after B’nai Yisrael were punished in Taverah (where they complained for no apparent reason), Kivrot HaTeavah (where they lusted for meat) and the sin of the meraglim (spies) where they were condemned to death in the wilderness.

According to Ramban this was the perfect moment for Korach to start his mutiny. When the nation felt at their worst, Korach blamed all of their troubles on Moshe and Aharon even though ultimately all of these decisions were made by God.

Korach can be looked at as the first politician, blaming all of the nation’s problems on the current leadership, a tactic that is still used today. The politician gives an impression that if they are elected they will be able to correct all of the nations problems which were created by the former government.

For Korach to blame Moshe and Aharon for the problems that B’nai Yisrael brought upon themselves was simply not fair.

Good politicians do not need to rip apart the governments that came before them, they just need to prove that they are the best candidates for the job.

Unfortunately for Korach, he was not destined to have a career in politics and he and his followers were swallowed up by the earth.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov from Yerushalayim,

Sharona Margolin Halickman

*Linda Basch z”l was a teacher, mentor and friend who was the director of programming for senior citizens and those with special needs at The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Torat Reva Yerushalayim’s Women in Judaism class at Neve Amit senior residence in Jerusalem has been sponsored in memory of Linda for the past three years. Please help us continue to sponsor the class in memory of Linda z”l by dedicating one class, one month, one semester or  a full year. Please see the dedication opportunities below. Thank you for your support and may Linda continue to be remembered each week in Jerusalem.

 

 
The Invisible Women of Parshat Korach Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 June 2016

Parshat Korach begins with the story of Korach’s rebellion (Bamidbar 16:1-3): “Korach, son of Yitzhar, son of Kehat, son of  Levi separated himself, with Datan and Aviram, sons of Eliav and On the son of Pelet, the offspring of Reuven. They stood before Moshe with 250 men from B’nai Yisrael, leaders of the assembly, those summoned for meeting, men of renown. They gathered together against Moshe and Aharon and said to them, “It is too much for you! For the entire assembly-all of them- are holy and God is among them; why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of God?”

 

The only time that we hear about the families of the rebels is in Bamidbar 16:27: “And Datan and Aviram went out and stood at the door of their tents with their wives, their children and their infants.”

 

The Talmud, Sanhedrin 109b-110a chooses to focus on the wives who are not mentioned at all, On, the son of Pelets’s wife and Korach’s wife, to try to fill in what may have gone on behind the scenes.

 

On, the son of Pelet ceases to be part of the rebellion. Why did he drop out?

 

The Talmud explains that On’s wife saved him. She said to him: “Why are you joining Korach’s rebellion? What will you gain from it? If Moshe is victorious, you will be a disciple and if Korach is victorious, you will be a disciple! Why then would you join Korach against Moshe?”

 

On answered: “You are correct. But what shall I do? I took part in their deliberations and swore to them that I would join the rebellion when called.”

 

She said to her husband: “I know the entire assembly, Korach and his followers included are holy people as it says ‘for the entire assembly-all of them-are holy.’ Turn back from this dangerous course and I will save you!” She gave him wine and when he was drunk she put him to bed inside their tent. She then sat at the entrance of the tent with her hair uncovered. Every member of Korach’s group who came to summon On saw her sitting at the entrance with her hair uncovered and left as they weren’t comfortable seeing an immodest woman. While On was sleeping off his intoxication, Korach’s assembly were swallowed up by the earth.

 

We see from here that On’s wife’s prevented him from joining Korach’s rebellion and suffering the conspirator’s horrible fate.

 

In contrast, the Talmud explains that Korach’s wife incited her husband to rebel against Moshe.

 

Korach’s wife said to him: “See what Moshe is doing! He has arrogated power and wealth for himself and his immediate family. He himself is king, he appointed his brother Aharon as Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and he appointed his brother’s sons deputies of the High Priest…”

 

The Talmud concludes with a quote from Proverbs 13:1: “She who is wise among women builds her house”, that is a reference to the wife of On the son of Pelet, “But the foolish one destroys it with her own hands”, this is a reference to the wife of Korach. 

 
Did Korach Introduce BDS? Print E-mail
Friday, 26 June 2015

In Memory of Linda Basch z”l on her First Yahrzeit*

*Follow the link to sponsor a shiur for the elderly in Jerusalem in memory of Linda

http://toratreva.org/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=509&Itemid=509

 

Parshat Korach begins with the words “Vayikach Korach”, “Korach took” yet the text never tells us what he took.

 

Rashi explains that Korach won over the heads of the Sanhedrin with flattering words.

 

Gur Aryeh, a commentary on Rashi says that the essence of the person is the mind which can’t be taken physically but may be taken figuratively when submitting to another persuasion.

 

Korach tried convincing the important people that Moshe and Aharon were not good leaders and that they take advantage of the Jewish people.

 

Midrash Shocher Tov on Tehilim 1 elaborates:

 

Korach gathered the community together (Bamidbar 16:19) “Korach congregated against them the entire congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting” and he began to tell a story about a widow that had two daughters. The widow owned a field and when she wanted to plow, Moshe told her that she can’t plow with an ox and donkey together. When she went to plant he told her that she can’t plant kilayim (mixed seeds). When she went to harvest, he told her that she has to leave “leket”, gleanings “shichecha”, forgotten sheaf and “peah” the corner of the field for the poor. When she went to thresh he told her to give “terumah”, “maser rishon” and “maser sheni”, tithes.

 

The midrash continues:

 

The widow sold her field and bought two lambs. When they gave birth Aharon told her to give him the firstborn. When it was time for shearing, he told her to give him the first shearing. At this point she decided to slaughter them and eat them. As soon as she slaughtered them Aharon asked her to give him some of the meat…

 

Korach was trying to make it look like Moshe and Aharon were taking advantage of the widow and making up rules to drive her crazy when in fact those are Gods rules from the Torah.

 

Although she had to give up parts of her possessions to the Kohanim, Leviim and those less fortunate, there would have still been plenty left for her and her family.

 

Korach doesn’t bring up the fact that the Torah protects those who may have less such as the stranger, the widow and the orphan.

 

This reminds me of the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) smear campaign against Israel, working to convince people from around the world to stop buying Israeli products. BDS is also pushing for products from the “settlements” to be labeled as such so that people can especially boycott products from over the “green line.”

 

What is the problem with BDS beyond trying to hurt Israel’s economy?

 

If Israel ends up closing factories, especially over the “green line” it will be a bigger problem for the Arabs as it is mostly Arabs who work in those factories. Most of the Arabs that work in those factories just want to earn an honest living and bring home a paycheck at the end of the month. If they are no longer working for Israelis, they will not be paid nearly as well (if they are able to get jobs at all). Those in charge of the BDS campaign are actually hurting the people who they think that they are helping.

 

In Jerusalem, where Israeli-Arabs are free to shop wherever they like, I don’t see Arabs boycotting Israeli stores or products. The malls and supermarkets are full of Israeli-Arabs who are looking for a good deal just like the rest of us!

 

Korach started a rebellion against Moshe and Aharon and in the end Korach and his followers were swallowed up by the earth to show that Korach would never be a leader and his spreading of lies and stretching the truth would never work.

 

Those who are running the BDS campaign will not win either. Many quality products come out of Israel and those looking for quality will not compromise. Those who choose to go along with it will be taken down the wrong path like Korach’s followers.

 

Wherever you are in the world, help support Israel by buying Israeli products and show the world that you are on Moshe’s side, not Korachs!

 

 

 
Bring Back Our Boys! Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 June 2014

In the Haftara for Parshat Korach we read about different times in history when the Jewish people were in danger:

 

Shmuel I 12:8-11: “When Yaakov came to Egypt and your forefathers cried out to God (Vayizaku), God sent Moshe and Aharon and they brought your forefathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place. But they forgot HaShem their God, so he delivered them into the hand of Sisera, general of the army of Hatzor and into the hand of the Plishtim and into the hand of the king of Moav and they battled them. Then they cried out to God (Vayizaku) and said ‘We have sinned! For we have forsaken God and we have worshipped the Baalim and the Ashtarot, but now rescue us from the hand of our enemies and we will worship you.’ So God sent Yerubaal and Bedan and Yiftach and Shmuel and He rescued you from the hand of your enemies from all around and you dwelt in security.”

 

According to Metzudat David, Vayizaku refers to crying out to God in prayer.

 

When we are in a dangerous situation our first reaction is to call out to God in prayer.

 

Last Thursday, three Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped by terrorists.

 

The first response after the initial shock was to pray for the boys. Special communal prayer services were set up all over Israel and throughout the world in order to pray for their safe return.

 

Special chapters of Tehilim (Psalms) are being recited. Prayers for the captives are being included in our daily services.

 

The army is doing everything that they can to find the boys.

 

What more can be done?

 

Social media campaigns are raising awareness of the kidnappings throughout the world.

 

Donations of food and treats for the soldiers are being collected and distributed.

 

Classes on the topic of the mitzvah of releasing captives are being taught.

 

Women are baking challot and praying for the boys while they observe the mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah.

 

There are people learning Mishnayot and dividing up Pirkei Avot to be studied.

 

Letters of support for the families and the soldiers are pouring in.

 

Residents of Chevron are doing laundry for the soldiers who are stationed near them.

 

Donated pizzas are being delivered to the army bases.

 

There are songs being written about bringing the boys home safely and famous singers visiting the families including Tony Orlando.

 

The families of the boys as well as the soldiers feel strengthened by the outpouring of support as they continue to pray for the safe return of the boys.

 

Just as God heard our prayers and rescued us from the hands of the Egyptians, Sisera, the Plishtim and Moav may He hear our prayers and through the merit of all of the special mitzvoth that are being observed bring the boys home safely to their families and may we dwell safely and securely in the Land of Israel.

 Photo: Parsha Points- Korach- Bring Back Our Boys!

In the Haftara for Parshat Korach we read about different times in history when the Jewish people were in danger:

Shmuel I 12:8-11: “When Yaakov came to Egypt and your forefathers cried out to God (Vayizaku), God sent Moshe and Aharon and they brought your forefathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place. But they forgot HaShem their God, so he delivered them into the hand of Sisera, general of the army of Hatzor and into the hand of the Plishtim and into the hand of the king of Moav and they battled them. Then they cried out to God (Vayizaku) and said ‘We have sinned! For we have forsaken God and we have worshipped the Baalim and the Ashtarot, but now rescue us from the hand of our enemies and we will worship you.’ So God sent Yerubaal and Bedan and Yiftach and Shmuel and He rescued you from the hand of your enemies from all around and you dwelt in security.”

According to Metzudat David, Vayizaku refers to crying out to God in prayer.

When we are in a dangerous situation our first reaction is to call out to God in prayer.

Last Thursday, three Israeli teenagers, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped by terrorists.

The first response after the initial shock was to pray for the boys. Special communal prayer services were set up all over Israel and throughout the world in order to pray for their safe return. 

Special chapters of Tehilim (Psalms) are being recited. Prayers for the captives are being included in our daily services.

The army is doing everything that they can to find the boys.

What more can be done?

Social media campaigns are raising awareness of the kidnappings throughout the world.

Donations of food and treats for the soldiers are being collected and distributed.

Classes on the topic of the mitzvah of releasing captives are being taught.

Women are baking challot and praying for the boys while they observe the mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah.

There are people learning Mishnayot and dividing up Pirkei Avot to be studied.

Letters of support for the families and the soldiers are pouring in.

Residents of Chevron are doing laundry for the soldiers who are stationed near them.

Donated pizzas are being delivered to the army bases.

There are songs being written about bringing the boys home safely and famous singers visiting the families including Tony Orlando.

The families of the boys as well as the soldiers feel strengthened by the outpouring of support as they continue to pray for the safe return of the boys.

Just as God heard our prayers and rescued us from the hands of the Egyptians, Sisera, the Plishtim and Moav may He hear our prayers and through the merit of all of the special mitzvoth that are being observed bring the boys home safely to their families and may we dwell safely and securely in the Land of Israel.

Shabbat Shalom from Yerushalayim!
Sharona Margolin Halickman 

 
Conflict for the Sake of Heaven Print E-mail
Friday, 14 June 2013
In Pirkei Avot, Chapter 5, Mishna 20 we read:

 

Every controversy which is for the sake of Heaven will endure in the end; and every one which is not for the sake of Heaven will not endure. Which is a controversy for the sake of Heaven? Such was the conflict of Hillel and Shammai. And which is not for the sake of Heaven? Such was the conflict of Korach and his entire assemblage.

 

What was special about the controversy of Hillel and Shammai?

 

For two and a half years the schools of Hillel and Shammai debated, each claiming “The Halacha is as we teach.” A heavenly echo then said “Both these and these are the words of the Living God; but the Halacha follows the school of Hillel.” Why did the school of Hillel have the law established the way that they taught? Because they were humble and taught both their views as well as the views of the house of Shammai.

 

Although we follow Halacha according to Beit Hillel, the teachings or Beit Shammai are alive as well since when we study the Halacha we respectfully mention what was taught by Beit Shammai as well.

 

A well known example would be the Halachot for lighting Chanukah candles. Beit Shammai says to light all of the candles on the first night of the holiday and remove one each night. Beit Hillel says to light one on the first night and add an additional one each night since we should always “go up in holiness”. Even though we follow Beit Hillel, we still study Beit Shammai’s teachings each year as well.

 

We can learn from the disputes of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai that if something is “for the sake of Heaven”, within the realm of Halacha, one has the right to voice his opinion and others have the right to respectfully disagree.

 

Korach on the other hand was looking to pick a fight. He came to rebel against Moshe and seek honor. What he was doing was for his own sake, not for the sake of Heaven.

 

According to Midrash Tanchuma, the reason that the mishna talks about the conflict between Korach and his assemblage and not the conflict between Korach and Moshe was because Korach couldn’t even get along with his own assemblage. There were 250 men in his group and they each were out for themselves, each of them wanted to be the Kohen Gadol (High Priest)!

 

We see from here that discussion is healthy as long as it is for the sake of Heaven.

 

 
How Can We Get the Majority of Jews Back to Israel? Print E-mail
Friday, 22 June 2012

The Parsha ends with a list of the gifts that God presented to the Kohanim as a reward for their service.

 

Teruma is a gift (from fruits and grains) that is mentioned in this section.

 

Those living in Israel are familiar with the laws of Teruma. When we shop for produce we have to make sure that there is a sign saying that Terumot have been taken out.

 

Is it still a Biblical commandment to observe the laws of Teruma in the Land of Israel today?

 

According to Rambam in Hilchot Trumot, today Teruma is a Rabbinic mitzvah. It only applies in the Land of Israel as a Biblical commandment when all of Israel dwells there.

 

In the days of Ezra (Second Temple), not all of the Jews came back to Israel. Today as well, although we have the State of Israel not all of the Jews are living in Israel.

 

What exactly does “all of Israel” mean? Does every Jew in the world need to move to Israel in order for the Mitzvah of Teruma to once again become a Biblical commandment?

 

If most of the Jews in the world move to Israel and the majority of the Jews in the world are living in Israel then the mitzvah of Teruma as well as the other mitzvoth HaTluyot BaAretz (mitzvoth that only take place in the Land of Israel) will once again become Biblical commandments.

 

The question now is how are we going to get the majority of Jews in the world to move to Israel?

 

One way that is slowly helping bring young families to Israel is the high cost of day school tuition. Many people who can no longer afford US day schools are realizing that in Israel their children can get an excellent Jewish education in the religious public schools.

 

The phenomenon of students coming to study in Israel for a year has also brought about a rise in aliya as many students become comfortable in Israel during their year abroad and feel that they can make Israel their home.

 

The rise in anti-semitism in many parts of the world has helped play a factor in aliya as well.

 

The most effective way for Rabbis to encourage aliya is by setting an example. The fact that Rabbi Riskin left Lincoln Square Synagogue to start a community in Efrat encouraged many members of his congregation to move to Israel as well. The same is true for Rabbi Shalom Rosner, a Rabbi from Woodmere, Long Island who built a community called Nofei HaShemesh and encouraged many of his congregants to follow in his footsteps.

 

If we can bring the majority of Jews in the world back to Israel, not only will they be able to observe the Mitzvoth HaTluyot Ba’aretz Rabinically, they will raise us to a level where we can perform these mitzvoth on a Biblical level.

 

 

 
A Land Flowing with Cottage Cheese and Honey? Print E-mail
Friday, 24 June 2011

Sponsored in Memory of Dr. Moshe Carmilly on his First Yahrzeit

It is known throughout the world that the Land of Israel is a land flowing with milk and honey. ElAl even runs trips called Milk and Honey tours!

We see the milk and honey theme throughout the Torah including in this week’s Parsha, Parshat Korach and last week’s Parsha, Parshat Shlach.

Datan and Aviram who join Korach in his rebellion against Moshe actually use the description of “a land flowing with milk and honey” in two different ways: (Parshat Korach, Devarim 16:13-14)

“It is but a pittance that you have brought us up from the land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that you must exercise power over us to make yourself powerful as well? Even into a land flowing with milk and honey you have not brought us, and not given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards if you put those people’s eyes out, even then we will not go up.”

Datan and Aviram claim that the Land of Egypt was a land flowing with milk and honey and now that they are in the desert they are worse off since they have not been brought into the promised Land of milk and honey (Israel) and were not given an inheritance of fields and vineyards.

Even though they claimed that Egypt was a land of milk and honey, they never said that Israel was not.

In the modern State of Israel there is no shortage of milk or honey. The dairy products are so good here that you rarely see milk products being brought into Israel from abroad.

The downside is that there is no competition and therefore the cost of milk products continues to rise. At this point, the cost of cottage cheese in Israel is double the price of cottage cheese in Europe.

This week there was a public campaign in Israel to ban cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is being used as a symbol for dairy products and basic food products. The idea of the boycott is to make sure that every family can buy these products at fair prices.

The problem with importing the products from overseas is that Israelis will end up losing jobs.

We have to do what we can to lower the prices on dairy products that are produced in Israel so that we can truly take advantage of the fact that we are in an “Ertez zavat chalav u’dvash”, a land flowing with milk and honey.

 
Korah: A Poor Example of a Leader Print E-mail
Friday, 11 June 2010

Sponsored in Honor of the Birth of a Baby Girl Born to Lt. Aharon Karov, an Israeli Soldier Who Was Critically Wounded in Gaza During Operation Cast Lead Just Days After His Wedding

     

Parshat Korach, Bamidbar 16:1-2 starts off with the incident about Korach’s rebellion: “Now Korach, the son of Itzhar, the son of Kehat, the son of Levi, and Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eliav, and On, the son of Pelet, sons of Reuven took men. And they rose up before Moshe, with 250 men from the children of Israel, leaders of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown.”

 

How did Korach, Datan and Aviram convince 250 important men to join their rebellion against Moshe?

 

Ibn Ezra explains that the group of rebels was made up of all kinds of grumblers and malcontents.

 

Korach’s rebellion took place right after the Leviim were separated and given the honors which were originally given to the Bechorim (first born sons).

 

B’nai Yisrael felt that Moshe took the honor away from the Bechorim because he wanted to give it to his own tribe.

 

The Leviim were upset because they would be subservient to the Kohanim.

 

Members of the tribe of Reuven felt that they were deprived of their birthright which was given to the tribe of Yosef. They may have felt that the birthright was given to Yosef because Yehoshua was a descendent of Yosef (from the tribe of Efraim).

 

Korach used the discontent of others for his own benefit.

 

Korach had strong leadership skills. He had the ability to gather people together and form a cohesive group. Unfortunately, instead of using these skills in a positive manner, he used them to promote negativity.

 

We must learn from Korach that if we are lucky enough to be blessed with leadership skills, it doesn’t pay to use them for the negative as in the end Korach and his followers were punished, as it says in Bamidbar16:31-32 “the ground that was under them split open. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households…”

 
Seize Every Opportunity to End a Dispute Print E-mail
Friday, 19 June 2009

Sponsored by Send A Sefer (www.sendasefer.com) where you can send Jewish Books (Hebrew, English or French), Talitot, Tzizit, P'til Techelet, Mezuzas, Megilot & Tefillin  to someone special in Israel! For a Bar- Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, Birthdays, Weddings, Anniversaries or Yeshiva/Seminary Students! All gifts are elegantly wrapped with a greeting card!

In Parshat Korach, Korach, Moshe and Aharon’s cousin, along with Datan and Aviram, leads an outright rebellion, attempting to overthrow Moshe and Aharon as the leaders of the nation.

 

Before calling for the destruction of Korach and his followers, Moshe went to the tents of Datan and Aviram to see if he could convince them to stop their rebellion.

 

“Moshe stood up and went to Datan and Aviram and the elders of Israel followed him. He spoke to them saying: ‘Turn away now from near the tents of the wicked men and do not touch anything of theirs, lest you pesrih because of their sins’” Bamidbar 16:25-26).

 

Tractate Sanhedrin 110a brings up the above pasuk 16:25: “ ‘Moshe stood up and went to the tents of Datan and Aviram’. Reish Lakish said: From here we learn that one should not persist in a quarrel. For Rav said: Whoever persists in a quarrel (machzik bemachloket) breaks a negative commandment, as it is written (Bamidbar 17:5), ‘and be not like Korach and his company’.”

 

We see from here that even if one feels he is right, he should not perpetuate a quarrel. Rather he should look for every opportunity to end it. Although Moshe had been slandered by Datan and Aviram, he didn’t wait for them to apologize to him. Rather, he went to them to try to persuade them to end their quarrel. Moshe’s reasoning was that one must seize every opportunity to end a dispute.

 

Unfortunately, Datan and Aviram did not listen and were therefore punished with Korach and the rest of his company.

 

We must do our best to resolve any quarrels that may arise and remain in the camp of Moshe and Aharon.

  
 
The Mitzvah of Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the First Born) Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 June 2008

Sponsored by Myrna and Mel Halickman in honour of their son Isaac, completing his Fellowship in Cardiology.

 

Right after the tenth plague, Makat Bechorot, the death of the first born Egyptians, God laid claim to all firstborn Jewish boys. In Parshat Bo, Shmot 13:2, God commanded Moshe “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, of man and beast, is mine.”

At the end of Parshat Korach, Bamidbar 18:15-16 God emphasizes to Aharon what makes the Kohanim different from the rest of the Jewish people including the details of the Pidyon Haben (redemption of the first born)  and the role of the Kohen in the ceremony. God commands Aharon: “Every first issue of a womb of any flesh that they offer to God, whether man or beast, shall be yours; but you shall surely redeem the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of an impure beast shall you redeem. Those that are to be redeemed- from one month shall you redeem according to the valuation, five silver shekels by the sacred shekel…”

Rabbi Saadya Gaon comments that the words “ach pado tifdeh”, “you shall surely redeem” implies that the child must be redeemed (the Kohen cannot try to keep the baby, he must return him to his father).

According to the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 305:24, if the firstborn was delivered by a caesarian section and therefore did not “open the womb”, then that baby is still considered firstborn, but he is not redeemed (there is no Pidyon HaBen for him).

The Gemara in Bechorot 48a explains that the Torah commands the Pidyon HaBen to be done at 30 days since that is when the baby is out of serious danger and is considered a person.

The Pidyon HaBen is celebrated with a festive meal. The baby is usually brought out on a silver tray and bedecked in jewelry.

The Gemara in Kiddushin 29a points out that if a father did not redeem his son at thirty days, the father would still be obligated to redeem his son even after he grows up. If the father never redeems his son, then the obligation lies on the son to redeem him self when he grows up (but by then he will be too big to be brought in on a silver tray!)

The Pidyon HaBen reminds us that our children are gifts from God and should not be taken for granted.

 

 

 
Holiness Through Unity Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Korach, Moshe and Aharon’s cousin and fellow Levi, as well as his disciples rose up in a rebellion against Moshe and Aharon and complained (Bamidbar 16:3): “You have taken too much for yourselves, for the entire assembly-all of them- are holy (kulam kedoshim)…”

What was so bad about what Korach said? God also said (Shmot 19:6) “You shall be to me a kingdom of Kohanim and a holy nation (goy kadosh)”.

According to Rabbi Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, the difference is that if there is unity among the Jewish people, if they are truly a “goy kadosh”, holy nation of one heart and one soul then the holiness will emanate throughout the nation. When God spoke the words “goy kadosh”, He spoke in the singular (kadosh rather than kedoshim).

However, when the Jewish people were in a state of disunity, as in the episode of Korach, Korach spoke in the plural “kulam kedoshim” each individual is holy in their own right. The problem was that the community aspect was missing.

Sforno comments that a holy nation is a nation that will never perish but will exist forever.

The Jewish people can only achieve this status if we become unified.

Unfortunately, again today, the Jewish people are divided. We have to work on getting the secular and religious, those on the left and those on the right to come together despite their differences so that we can truly become a “mamlechet kohanim vegoy kadosh”, a kingdom of kohanim and a holy nation that will endure forever.

 
Getting an Aliyah vs. Making Aliyah Print E-mail
Monday, 11 June 2007

When we think of the word “Aliyah”, one of the following two dictionary definitions probably comes to mind:

Aliyah: Literally "to go up", the word has acquired two common meanings: to be called up to the bimah during the Torah service when a portion of the Torah is being read; the act of immigrating to Israel is referred to as "making aliyah".

Practically, “Aliyah” refers to rising spiritually.

In Parshat Korach, Bamidbar Chapter 16, Korach and other members of the tribe of Levi including Datan and Aviram lead a rebellion against Moshe. When Moshe asks to speak to Datan and Aviram, their response is “Lo Naaleh”, “We will not go up”.

Eben Ezra (16:12) explains why Datan and Aviram used the terminology of “Lo Naaleh” as opposed to just saying “Lo”, “No”. The simple meaning of the text is that Ohel Moed, where Moshe wanted to meet with them was in the middle of the camp, on a raised surface and they didn’t want to go up there. Eben Ezra’s second meaning is that whoever goes to serve God or goes to a holy place is considered an “oleh”, “rising”.

In Parshat Shlach, when the spies complained about the Land of Israel. Calev said (Bamidbar 13:30) “Aloh Na’aleh Viyirashnu Otah”, “We can surely go up to the land and we can surely possess it”.  However, the other spies that were with him (excluding Yehoshua) said “lo Nuchal La’alot”, “We are not able to rise up”.

A group of modern orthodox rabbis who themselves made Aliyah, named their organization “Aloh Na'aleh”. Their mission is to motivate American Jews to come to Israel. The organization believes that the mitzvah of Yishuv Haaretz (returning to the Land) is of utmost importance and that Aliyah is an achievable goal. Their aim is to legitimize Aliyah and place it firmly on the agenda of the North American Jewish community. These Rabbis are in Calev’s camp as opposed to the camp of the spies and Dotan and Aviram.

Different people have different ways of spiritually rising and connecting with God. For some it is going to a synagogue, for others it is receiving an aliyah during Torah reading, for still others it is visiting Israel, praying at the Kotel or ultimately it may be making Aliyah, permanently residing in Israel.

We must continue to rise spiritually.

Question: If two people are standing on a ladder, one on the third rung and one on the second rung, who is higher? Answer: It depends on which direction they are going. Never stop climbing!