1. This Shabbos has a two-fold connection with the arrest and liberation of the Previous Rebbe. Today is the thirtieth day of Sivan, a day which has a special connection with the fifteenth of Sivan (when “the moon is full”) and when the incarceration began. Simultaneously it is Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, a day which has a special connection with the twelfth of Tammuz when the Rebbe was liberated.
Some months have thirty days — they are full months — while others have only twenty-nine days — they are deficient months. The thirtieth day of a month creates its ‘fullness’ and completes the other days; thus it is uniquely related to the other twenty-nine days.
Rosh Chodesh Tammuz is also uniquely related to the other days of Tammuz. Chassidus explains that the reason Rosh Chodesh is called Rosh Chodesh, the head of the month and not the beginning of the month, is because it is related to the other days of the month as the head is related to the rest of the body. The head not only contains the vitality for the limbs, it also guides their actions after they receive that vitality. Similarly, the head of the month contains within it the other days of the month and guides them after it has passed.
These two aspects, coinciding on the same day, cause a duality in the day. This day is attached to the month of Sivan — it is the thirtieth day of that month. At the same time it is the head of the month of Tammuz — Rosh Chodesh Tammuz.
The connection between the Rebbe’s arrest and liberation (which are both connected with this Shabbos), is more readily discernible when we examine the events as they occurred. The incarceration began on the day when “the moon is complete,” the 15th of the “third month.” This was to have been the “completion” of the resolutions undertaken by the Previous Rebbe to spread the “three-fold Torah (Chumash), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Kesuvim (Writings) undaunted by any obstacles, even to the point of self-sacrifice. However, because it was the time of Golus, the Rebbe was arrested on that day.
If we look deeper into the matter, we can see that the purpose of the incarceration was actually the consequent liberation. This was a “descent for the purpose of ascent,” enabling the “superiority of light from darkness” and the “superiority of wisdom from folly” to emerge. It was so that an abundance of light and wisdom superior to that which existed before, should be the result of the arrest. This deeper purpose became evident when the actual liberation occurred, on the 12th-13th of Tammuz.
These events are similar to those connected with the giving of the Torah. The Torah could not be given until “Yisro heard... all that G-d had done,” and “he came” and said: “Now I know that the L-rd is greater than all other gods.” Similarly with regard to the liberation of 12th-13th of Tammuz, the self-same people who had arrested the Previous Rebbe later said, “Now I know” that he must be freed. Their words affected the liberation as well as the subsequent increase in the spreading of Torah of Mitzvos.
The beginning of the liberation was the 3rd of Tammuz. The government had already decided on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz to free the Previous Rebbe. On Friday, the second day of Rosh Chodesh, the Rebbe was told that after a few hours given to him to go to his home, he must travel directly to his place of exile in Kostroma. Because of the possibility that his observance of Shabbos would be effected, the Rebbe delayed his departure from prison until Sunday, the 3rd of Tammuz. This delay resulted in an increase in the Rebbe’s self-sacrifice for the sake of Shabbos.
A lesson we can learn from the liberation is that we should work, undeterred by any obstacles, in spreading Torah in accordance with the Rebbe’s desire. That is, we should spread the learning of Torah, and since “great is learning that brings one to action,” we must also fulfill Mitzvos.
In the Maamar “Ten who sit and occupy themselves in Torah,” there are two directives which are stressed: learning Torah and love of a fellow Jew. Wherever one goes, one should gather together “ten Jews and sit and learn Torah,” including in the group all ten categories of Jews. These range from “your heads” and “your tribal chiefs,” to “your hewers of wood” and “your water carriers.” These categories are similar to those enumerated in the Previous Rebbe’s letter of 5688. These range from “me alone (the Previous Rebbe),” to “all those who are called by the name Israel.” In order that all ten categories should be able to “sit and learn Torah” together, without any arguments or differences between them, there must be true love of a fellow Jew.
Each person must “occupy himself in Torah.” This means that his approach to Torah should not be that of a paid employee; it should be as if learning Torah is his business and occupation. An employee works exactly the amount of hours for which he is obligated. However, when it is his own business he works in, then even when he goes home he thinks about it. So, too, should it be with the “business” of Torah learning. In his business, he does not wait until someone comes and asks him if he has merchandise (Torah) to sell; rather he goes and looks for customers. As we find by G-d, (and “righteous people are comparable to their Creator”) that He searched the whole world over to find a buyer for his “concealed treasure,” the Torah.
The above encouragement which we draw from Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Tammuz should inspire us to do more the nearer we get to the l2th-13th of Tammuz, especially in this, the hundredth anniversary of the birthday of the Previous Rebbe.
2. There is a perplexing question about this week’s Parshah. Why is it called Parshas Korach when Korach was the one who quarreled with “Moshe who is true, and his Torah which is true?” Instead of having his name perpetuated, shouldn’t it be counted among “the names of the wicked should rot?” The Gemara (Yoma 38b) comments on the names of the wicked saying, “their names should rot by not mentioning them.” This would be especially true in this case since there is a commandment “do not be like Korach and his company.”
This question is compounded by the fact that most Parshiyos are named after the first word in the Parshah (e.g. Vayeira, Vayeitze, Vayishlach etc.). In this Parshah, however, the procedure is changed. Instead of the first word in the Parshah, Vayikach, the second word, Korach, was chosen!
The puzzle becomes more complex when we consider the following: In Parshas “Vayeitze” the second word, “Yaakov,” is not included in the Parshah’s name. Why then is this week’s Parshah given the name Korach when Korach was a wicked person who rebelled against Moshe? Although the name Korach is mentioned in the Torah, Korach is nowhere found as the name of the Parshah given in the Mishnah, the Gemara, or in the Bereisah. It is first mentioned in the works of the Geonim, and then by the Rambam, and it has now become the custom of Jews to call the name of this Parshah Korach. Why was the name Korach chosen for the name of this Parshah?
To understand the explanation we must make a distinction between the individual Korach and the rebellion of Korach.
Due to his illustrious ancestors, Korach’s spiritual level was very high. Korach descended from Yaakov Avinu, as it is stated in Chronicles (1, 6:22-23), “Korach the son of Yitzhor, the son of Kehos, the son of Levi, the son of Yisrael (Yaakov).” As a child Korach’s “breath was pure, without sin, “ and still later he was one of the “bearers of the ark.” It was only later in his life, when he was forced to choose between good and evil in this world that he sinned by rebelling against Moshe. However, this was not his essence. In essence he was the “son of Yisrael,” and the command, “Do not be like Korach and his company,” came about only after he had sinned.
This explanation helps clarify the Rashi on the first verse in the Parshah. On the verse “the son of Yitzhor, the son of Kehos, the son of Levi” Rashi comments: “It does not mention ‘the son of Yaakov,’ for (the latter) sought mercy for himself that his name should not be mentioned in their rebellion, as it is stated: “Unto their assembly let my glory not be united.” And where is his name mentioned with Korach? When their genealogy is recorded for the services [in the Temple] in Chronicles, as it is stated, ‘the sons of Eviasof, the son of Korach, the son of Yitzhor, the son of Kehos, the son of Levi, the son of Yisrael.’” In explaining why Yaakov is not mentioned, why is the second half of Rashi’s commentary, “and where is his name mentioned,...” necessary?
The reason is as follows: When a young child learns about Korach’s rebellion against Moshe, he will immediately ask: If Korach was such a bad person, why is the Parshah named after him? The second part of Rashi’s commentary answers this question. Rashi directs us to look at Korach as a person, thus making a distinction between the person and the rebellion which bears his name. We see that Korach’s lineage goes back to Yaakov and, that the genealogy of his descendants, who serve in the Temple (this includes the first, the second, and the future Temple) is traced back to Yaakov through him. If Korach would be from another lineage, for example Israelites, then all his descendants would not be Levi’im.
From the above we must conclude that Korach was in essence good; that the sins he committed were caused by an external factor. The phrase, “even though he sins, he remains a Jew,” indicates that a sin is an external thing to a Jew. The Rambam states that a Jew does not wish to sin, but that “his inclination forces him.” It is never to late for a Jew to do repentance, since “none shall be banished from Him.”
We find examples of other Jews who, like Korach, sinned grievously, but were of a very lofty nature. Yerobam, the son of Nevot, was the opposite of one who is “himself meritorious, and caused the many to attain merit.” Nevertheless, he is the only person of whom it is said that G-d wished to link His name with him in his life, as He said to him, “Return, and I, you, and the son of Yishai will walk in the Garden of Eden.” Similarly, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 102b) relates the following regarding King Menashe who committed the sins of placing an idol in the Temple and idol-worship: After Rav Ashi had said an undesirable thing about him, he appeared to Rav Ashi in a dream and rebuked him. The reason being that since he repented he may have attained great heights, and therefore one may not speak against him.
The same concept applies to Korach. The fact that he sinned grievously has no reflection on the great personal level he attained. He sinned because “his inclination forced him.”
We learn two things from the above. First of all, we understand why the Parshah can be called Korach. Secondly, and more importantly, there is a lesson here for every person. We learn that while at the same time guarding against adverse influences, we should endeavor to bring every Jew closer to Torah. Although externally he seems to be a “Korach,” in reality that Jew can be reached by communicating with him in his own idiom. We know that if we “train a child in his own way, when he is old he will not depart from it.”
We shall surely be successful in our task, for “none shall be banished from Him,” thus helping to hurry the realization of the promise, “I will hurry it (the redemption),” with the coming of our righteous Mashiach.
3. on the verse (16:25) “And Moshe rose up and went to Doson and Avirom; and the elders of Israel followed him,” Rashi comments that “Moshe rose up” because “He thought that they would respect him; but they did not do so.” There are the following difficulties with Rashi’s explanation:
1) In the previous verses (21) G-d told Moshe and Aharon to “separate yourselves from among this congregation,” and then (24) to “speak unto the congregation, saying: Get you up from about the dwelling of Korach, Doson and Avirom.” That which immediately follows — “And Moshe rose up and went to Doson and Avirom” — seems to be Moshe fulfilling G-d’s injunction to separate the people from Korach, Doson and Avirom. What has compelled Rashi to give an explanation on a verse which seems to be self-explanatory?
2) According to Rashi’s interpretation Moshe postponed fulfilling G-d’s command to “speak unto the congregation, saying: get you up from about the dwelling of Korach,” and instead went to Doson and Avirom. How could he have done this?
3) Rashi’s explanation says that Moshe wanted Doson and Avirom to give him respect. Why does he base his commentary on the words “And Moshe rose up” rather than on the words “and he went to Doson and Avirom?”
The explanation is as follows:
In relating how Moshe fulfilled G-d’s command to tell the people to separate from Korach the Torah could simply have said “And Moshe went” omitting the words “rose up.” However, since Torah contains the words “And Moshe rose up and went...” Rashi deduces that Moshe did something in addition to carrying out G-d’s command. That additional action was to go to Doson and Avirom, hoping that they would give him respect and thereby be moved to do Teshuvah (repent). That this was the something extra which Moshe did, Rashi learns from the words “And he rose.” The verb in this verse is the same as that found in the verse, “the field of Ephron rose up,” which Rashi explains to mean, “it had a rise in importance, for it went out of the hands of an ordinary person (Ephron) and into the hands of a king (Avraham). It is also similar to the verb found in the verse (Vayikra 19:32) “before the hoary head you shall rise up.” Just as these verses communicate the idea of respect and honor, our verse, “and Moshe rose up,” is connected with respect.
Moshe postponed fulfilling G-d’s command and instead went on his own mission. This was Moshe’s habit: Whenever the Jews sinned, he would go to G-d to intercede for them, and he would go to the Jews to awaken them to repent. So too here — “Moshe rose up” — he first went to Doson and Avirom hoping that by showing respect for him they would be moved to repent.
Furthermore, we see that when G-d said previously that He would destroy the entire congregation, Moshe cried out “0 G-d, the G-d of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will You be angry with all the congregation” (16:22)? Surely when G-d commanded him to separate the congregation from Korach, Doson, and Avirom, as a prelude to destroying them, Moshe would do something to avert the threatened punishment and not run immediately to fulfill the command. Thus we must say that he did something first — he went to Doson and Avirom with the one remaining hope that their show of respect for him would inspire in them regret and a return to G-d.
4. The first Mishnah in this week’s chapter (4) of Pirkei Avos says: Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? He who learns from every person as it is stated: From all those who have taught me I have gained wisdom; indeed, Your testimonies are my conversation. Who is strong? He who subdues his [evil] inclination, as it is stated: He who is slow to anger is better than the strong man, and he who masters his passions is better than one who conquers a city. Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot, as it is said: When you eat of the labor of your hands, happy are you and it shall be well with you. “Happy are you” — in this world; “and it shall be well with you” — in the World to Come. Who is honored? He who honors others, as it is stated: Indeed, those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be degraded.
In Chassidus, the above four categories correspond to the four Sefiros which depict the entire order of descent. The “wise person” corresponds to the Sefirah of Chochmah (wisdom) or the Sefirah of Chesed (kindness); the “mighty person” to the sphere of Binah (understanding), or Gevurah (might); the “rich person” to that of Da’as (knowledge), or Tiferes (beauty); and the honored person to that of Malchus (sovereignty).
The “wise person” the Mishnah speaks of is not necessarily one who is wise in Torah. The Mishnah means, generally, anyone who is wise — even a non-Jew “who learns from every person.”
There is a “Mili D’Chassidusa (teaching on how to be pious) contained in the phrase “Who is wise? He who learns from every person.” This cannot be referring to learning Torah, for if it were it would not be just advice on how to be pious; it would be an integral part of the obligation to learn Torah. Everyone has the obligation to learn as much Torah, both quantitatively and qualitatively, as possible. If someone can teach you Torah, it is mandatory that you learn from him. But since the Mishnah refers to wisdom in general and speaks from the perspective of how to be a pious person in this context, the one who is truly wise is he who “learns from every person.”
The Mishnah gives us a directive: There are those who think that their work lies in only one of the above areas — in the area of “he who is wise,” or in the area of “he who is strong,” etc. — because they belong to Yissocher, who was primarily concerned with the Torah, or because they belong to Zevulen who primarily concerned themselves with good deeds. Thus, they refuse to concern themselves with any area which they do not consider to be in their line of work.
The Mishnah instructs such a person that in order for him to be truly pious, he must be occupied in all the areas of work, in Torah and good deeds, as previously mentioned. And more particularly, he must strive to attain the four qualities mentioned in the Mishnah — these four areas depict the entire order of descent — to be wise, strong, rich and honored.
The above Mishnah has the following preface which serves as a preparatory remark when learning the Mishnah: “All Israel have a share in the World to Come, as it is stated: And your people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever; they are the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, in which to take pride.”
Although “All Israel have a share in the World to Come” means that they each have a “share” and not the entire thing, nevertheless, it is true that they also have the entire World to Come. The World to Come is connected with the Essence (of G-d). “When one has a share of the Essence one has the entire Essence.” Therefore a Jew who has a share in the World to Come actually has the entire World to Come — the Sefiros of wisdom, understanding, knowledge and sovereignty.
The verse continues with the reason for this: “They are the branch of My planting, the work of My hands.” G-d’s work cannot be divided into different parts; it is all ‘one.’ Thus a Jew, himself G-d’s work, automatically possesses the entire “work of My hands.”
The verse continues with, “in which I take pride.” G-d prides Himself with the Jews. This is because the service of a Jew reaches and affects the very Essence of G-d.
5. Free Choice and ResponsibilitySince the Rebbe has recently spoken out against the practice of family planning and birth prevention, some critics, claiming that such statements are an unjustified invasion of privacy, go so far as to declare them to be “against the Constitution” and even tinged with a touch of dictatorship. The Rebbe gave the following response to such criticisms.
In the United States, a great deal of money is being spent to maintain a Federal agency known as the Food and Drug Administration, which tests products to ensure that they are fit for human consumption. A product which is proven to be dangerous is not permitted on the public market; if the possibility of harmful side-effects exists, the product must be accompanied by a warning on the label. One might question the right of the government to limit the products its citizenry is permitted to consume. It is obvious that government is needed for social legislation; for as it says in Pirkei Avos, if not for government “men would swallow one another alive.” But isn’t one’s ingestion of food and drugs a personal matter?
Granted that this might be something which affects only the individual, and is a matter of his own health and welfare. However, a government that is truly concerned about its citizens will do everything it possibly can to keep them from harm, even harm which they choose to inflict upon themselves. Even if somebody wishes to acquire a known harmful substance, he is thwarted and the manufacturers are legally prosecuted if they persist in its distribution.
This is demonstrated most graphically in society’s response to an attempted suicide. If someone wishes to throw himself from a bridge, police and coast guard are mobilized to prevent his death. The individual may be 119 years and 364 days old and in the last hours of his life, but society will expend resources of time, money, and equipment to prevent that life from being cut one hour short. It is not only an individual’s desire to harm another which society finds intolerable, but the desire to damage oneself as well.
Family planning, proclaimed by many to be an individual right, causes serious harm to the people who practice it. Medical doctors have concluded that there is a direct relationship between nervous disorders and birth prevention. Psychologists also attribute mental and emotional breakdowns to this practice and marriage counselors trace numerous marital problems to the unbearable tensions which family planning places upon the husband, the wife, and their relationship.
Those who speak in favor of birth prevention do so under the illusion that they are working for “humanitarian” purposes. They feel they are furthering the cause of personal “freedom of choice.” When, however, the utilization of personal freedom causes direct personal damage, as in the case of consumption of harmful substances or attempted suicide, society realizes its obligation to step in and prevent such harmful actions. Therefore, society should act against family planning, not as an attack on personal freedom but in order to prevent the abuse of it. The so-called humanitarians who speak in favor of family planning “act like Zimri while asking for the reward of Pinchas;” they come as destroyers and expect to be praised as saviors.
The damage done has been documented in numerous cases by doctors; the statistics are there to be compiled. This compilation would not be an invasion of privacy as no personal information would be sought, only the statistics. The researcher should be scrupulously honest in compiling his data and then release his findings to the public. The evidence will be so clear that all who publicly encourage family planning will be forced to reverse their position; once the advocates of family planning become its opponents, the campaign for a return to a normal way of life will be immeasurably strengthened. As the truth becomes evident to all, the awards previously given to the advocates of birth prevention will be awarded to those who research and expose the truth about it, for they are the true humanitarians.
The way this education campaign is to be conducted should be according to the example of the Previous Rebbe. Despite all the forces which opposed him, he publicly announced that “the Jewish soul never went into Golus,” that a Jew should not be swayed from the path of truth. Despite all lies and slander contrived against him, he knew that the only true way was Torah. Similarly, we must not be affected by the proponents of family planning who claim the right of privacy and protest against interference.
We learn this from the example of Korach, who led a rebellion against Moshe. Korach spoke with only “half a mouth,” he could not go against Moshe with full strength. Even while he was rebelling, he accepted Moshe’s instructions as to the manner in which their dispute was to be decided. Korach’s weapons consisted of lies and slander; therefore he could not match the strength of Moshe which sprang from the Torah of truth. Thus we learn that falsehood is automatically weakened when confronted by truth and should not affect or worry those who speak for Torah — the Torah of truth.
This is especially true in these times when “there is no such thing as an apikoras — there is only the am ha’aretz.” Today, the opposition to Torah regarding Taharas HaMishpachah as well as family planning, is rooted in ignorance, based on the misconception that the way of Torah is contrary to the natural way of life. Through educating people to the truth, that Torah commands us to lead a normal life, they will cease to act out of ignorance.
Torah commands us to lead a normal life. A normal marriage is followed by children, not a million-dollar bank account. A child does not need a million dollars at birth to see him through his entire life. The parents should realize that just as their parents had enough for them, so will they have enough for the children who will be born to them. All wealth comes from G-d and He will provide for all the children He gives to a couple. We should not worry about His accounting system, but realize that each one will receive what he needs.
It is even apparent in a natural way that no one can say he is totally established through “the strength of his ‘ own hand.” A young couple marries and establishes their home with the assistance of parents, friends, and relatives who provide them with a wedding celebration and gifts. If a young couple is dependent upon others in this obvious manner, how much more should they depend upon G-d of Whom it is said, “The silver is Mine, the gold is Mine;” and who provides sustenance for all.
This is not for the Jew, but for the non-Jew as well. All people are created so that the world will be fully inhabited and not left barren. It is our responsibility to teach the non-Jew that he must lead a normal life, not one contrary to nature. All this must be explained in a way that the non-Jew can understand, regardless of the strength of the opposition.
We must convince the leaders of the country to fight against family planning and birth prevention through lobbying in Congress. The lobbying should be done by speaking simply and with common sense, without dramatization and hysteria. The elected officials are normal people who will understand a normal explanation, and the situation will be corrected.
The Gemara states: “When you go to a city you follow its customs.” Here, when somebody is seeking an elected post we say he is “running” for office. We must learn from this and also “run” — to learn Torah and bring its light to the entire world.
- (Back to text) on the 3rd of Tammuz the Previous Rebbe was told that his sentence was commuted to exile in Kostroma. On the 12th of Tammuz he was completely freed.
- (Back to text) This phrase refers to those whose only identification with Judaism is that they are called Jews. And even when that identification is only in the way of a nick-name — not a full-fledged name.
- (Back to text) This dichotomy is also applicable to the Meraglim (spies) who were sent out by Moshe. These spies were the princes of the people, and were personally chosen by Moshe. It was their sin which was grievous, not they themselves. (Chassidus explains that their sin was actually of a lofty nature, that they didn’t want to descend from their high spiritual level to go into Eretz Yisrael where they would have to deal with the physical world.)
- (Back to text) Normally “G-d does not link His name with Tzaddikim in their lifetime, but only after their death,” because they may yet sin.
- (Back to text) This is especially true according to the way Chassidus explains Korach’s arguments: It wasn’t simply that he was rebelling against Moshe; rather Korach wished to begin right away to do things the way they would be done in the times of Mashiach. His mistake (and his sin) was that, in order to reach such a level of conduct, he must first go through go the intermediate mode of conduct.
- (Back to text) Moshe thought that if he went to them they would accord him the respect due to him, and thus be moved to repent.
- (Back to text) This refers to Avraham’s purchase of the field of Ephron as a burial place for his wife Sarah.
- (Back to text) 3:2
- (Back to text) Sotah 22b
- (Back to text) Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. IV, p. 692a
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 16:6
- (Back to text) Devarim 8:17
- (Back to text) Chaggai 2:8