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Shabbat Parashat Korach 5771

Parashat Hashavuah: Man is Beloved; Israel is Beloved

Harav Shaul Yisraeli - from Siach Shaul, pp. 396-398

Korach posited: “For the entire nation is holy” (Bamidbar 16:3). The Jewish outlook is that unity emanates from the fact that we all share one Father. However, the outlook is not complete if one does not recognize that there are levels of status that Hashem placed into the world. Without that, the world is a confused mixture of creations with different natures, and, instead of having unity, one disturbs the other.

The wiser a person is, the more he realizes distinctions, which unity does not preclude. Rabbi Akiva realized mankind’s greatness. He said: “Beloved is man, who was created in Hashem’s image” (Avot 3:14), stressing, before it was popular, that which mankind shares. However, Rabbi Akiva continued: “A special love was bestowed upon Israel, who are called sons to Hashem.” This does not contradict seeing what we share, but complements it.

Within Israel, there are distinctions in sanctity, as Kohanim having special sanctity (Divrei Hayamim I, 23:13). When people of such stature exist in the nation, the sanctity spills over to the nation. An example is the prophets, who were separated above the people, and thereby were able to rebuke them in a manner that inspired improved behavior.

In the beginning of the Christian period, some wanted to blur the distinctions and accuse us of chauvinism because of our thesis of “You chose us from among the nations.” Yet, we defended our position stubbornly, both regarding privileges and the obligation of “Be holy,” despite the resulting sacrifices.

Moshe told Korach, who tried to erase levels, “In the morning, it will be made known” (Bamidbar 16:5). Just as Hashem set boundaries between night and day, so did He make distinctions between nations and within them. Denying that reminds us of the disorder that existed before Hashem decreed “Let there be light.” In addition to the challenges from the outside, some members of our nation refused to accept our special status and calling. Some felt we had to choose between Rabbi Akiva’s two statements. When we denied our specialness, the nations of the world also viewed us in that way, paving the way for them to display cruelty toward us.

To this day, there are people in Israel who cling to the thesis of “Israel, like all other nations.” Leaders speak on our behalf, but while their best defense of our rights is the Tanach, they turn their backs on what is written in it. While we have succeeded in finding a basis in the Torah for our national status, there is still much confusion. The same people who say we are all equally holy say that this holiness does not demand us to serve Hashem. It is crucial to build and work the Land, but this must be done with an acceptance of the requirements of sanctity. People must realize that not all who can serve as leaders on social matters can speak with authority on Torah values. We can say metaphorically that there is a difference between true techelet and fake techelet, and only an expert can tell the difference.


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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim

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 to the memory of
R' Meir
 ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld



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