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Shabbat Parashat Korach | 5769

Parashat Hashavuah: A Special Breed of Leader

Harav Yosef Carmel

Our parasha and haftara deal with leaders who are great role models: Moshe, Aharon, and Shmuel. The psalmist praises them as a threesome: “Moshe and Aharon with his priests and Shmuel with those who call out in His Name; they call out to Hashem, and He answers them” (Tehillim 99:6). Let’s focus on the siyata dishmaya (Divine Assistance) they received when calling out to Hashem, something that made them unique leaders.

The gemara (Makkot 23b) says that ruach hakodesh (Divine Spirit) appeared in three courts: that of Shem, Shmuel, and Shlomo. Tamar’s claim that she was pregnant from Yehuda, when she could have had other partners, was supported by a Heavenly voice. When Shmuel challenged all to attest to misappropriations he might have committed, such a voice said “I am a witness that you did no wrong.” When Shlomo proved psychologically who the live baby’s mother was, it was Divinely corroborated.

All three stories involve siyata dishmaya in national leadership. From Yehuda and Tamar came the dynasty of King David, our eternal leaders. Shmuel carried out Yaakov’s prophecy that the leadership comes from the tribe of Yehuda. Shlomo’s judgment cemented his hold on the throne, enabling the Davidic dynasty to be the first to establish a second generation of accepted leadership. How does one achieve that goal?

The midrash (Tanchuma, Korach 1) relates to Korach a pasuk in Mishlei (18:19) that talks of one who rebelled from kiryat oz and lost his honor. The Sefat Emet explains what kiryat oz is. He says that it is Bnei Yisrael’s wholeness and broadness in accepting the Torah. The Torah is called oz (strength), as it says, “Hashem, shall give oz to his nation; Hashem shall bless His nation with shalom” (Tehillim 29:11). He continues that, in general, in this world, there is a lack of completeness, and it is necessary to have siyata dishmaya. Let us explain what the Sefat Emet meant.

Korach saw himself as the height of completeness, and thus rebelled against Moshe, who championed the belief that one can reach completeness only through the Torah. When Korach said, “For the entire nation is holy,” he showed a lack of understanding that a group of people is always lacking without siyata dishmaya. Moshe’s combination of strong leadership and humility provided the proper lesson for generations. One always needs siyata dishmaya, although one cannot be assured how it will appear.

Let us conclude, along  the lines of the Sefat Emet, that shleimut, related to shalom, can come only when the Torah takes into consideration the spiritual needs of the nation as a whole. Sometimes, public needs justify stringent rulings and sometimes lenient ones. However, only when these needs are addressed does one use the Torah of shleimut and the leadership merits siyata dishmaya - in the community’s merit.


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga  Brachfeld


Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker

and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.

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