A gitten erev Shabbos! This week’s parsha is Parshas Korach, in which Korach and his congregation break away from Klal Yisroel and hence get cast into the earth, for doubting the authority of Moshe and Aharon.
On the surface level, this seems to be incredibly harsh. The truth is though, that this was really very reasonable. Some will say this is proof that democracy is bad, which is absolutely not what the point of this incident is. The truth is that Korach was wrong primarily due to how he was viewing the progress of time and reality.
It says in the Gemoro in Sotah that before the Chait HaEigel (Sin of the Golden Calf) the Shechinah dwelled among every member of Klal Yisroel, but we lost this after that dreadful error. Korach says, as his argument against the authority of Moshe Rabeinu “רב לכם כי כל העדה כלם קדושים ובתוכם ה’ ומדוע תתנשאו על קהל השם.” “You reign over the entire congregation, they are all holy and among them is Hashem, and you know that you are appointing one known to you (Aharon HaKohen) over the community of Hashem.” What we can see from here is that Korach refused to accept the current situation, which was the world of the Mishkan, and later Beis HaMikdash. Rather than realizing that Hashem changed the rules of the world, in which He chose a specific place for the Shechinah to dwell separate from the majority of Klal Yisroel, Korach chose to reject what was and believe that things still were exactly the same as they were before. He also insisted on a form of reality that will only be when Moshiach comes, that of the Shechinah entirely filling the world, obviously since he stated that the Shechinah rests among every individual member of Klal Yisroel. I heard from my chevrusa, a huge talmid chochom, that the Satmar Ruv, Reb Yoelish, zy’a is known to have said that when Moshiach comes, Korach will be made Kohen Gadol. This is said in the name of the Arizal.
This is not to say that change is good either, much of change is negative. There is after all a concept of Minhag Avos, the Customs of our Fathers, which should never change, though quite the opposite is common. The Chasam Sofer has a famous saying that all new things are forbidden from the Torah. This is absolutely not in line with Korach, because these things are in line with the current metzius (reality). However, in regards to internet at the very least, it says in the first perek of Mishlei that the Torah should be announced from the high places, which according to Rashi and the Metzuduos Dovid, means in the most public places where people will be able to listen to Torah; following this logic, the internet is a very good place to teach Torah, since there are millions of people online, including millions of Jews. Hence, through using internet as a vessel for Torah, we can recognize that Hashem has influenced reality to allow for the internet, since it has a painfully obvious use for kedusha (holiness).
We also learn of the story of the staves placed in the Ohel HaEdus (Tent of Witnessing), in order to demonstrate who will be the Kohanim/Priestly Caste. Aharon ends up having the proper stick, which sprouts almonds, called שקדים in Hebrew. שקד means “swift” in Hebrew. Rashi brings this refers to how swiftly troubles will start to rise among the Kohanim, however I believe there is another inyan we can learn from this. In order for us to be worthy of serving Hashem, we must be swift in His service: rather than pushing off learning something for “later,” we must do it as soon as possible. We have a whole concept of זרזין מקדמין למצוות, people who are swift hurry to mitzvos early. The Zidichoiver rebbe, the Baal Ateres Tzvi zy’a teaches that davening Shachris early in the morning is a segulah for parnossoh (livelihood). Other than this, we can see that rushing to fulfill Hashem’s will as early as possible is incredible good, especially when it comes to the idea of becoming Hashem’s chosen in the sense of having special avodos (services) to Him.
This parsha details the various gifts given to the Levi’im, which is granted greater immediate relevance, when we look in the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam. In the last perek of Shmittah, in the last seif, Rambam states that everyone who wishes to separate himself from normal life and serve and seek to know Hashem completely, he is then sanctified to Hashem forever, and is ultimately granted the same portion as the Kohanim and Levi’im in this world and the next. It says in Masechtes Avoda Zarah that Hashem personally takes care of those who are Osek B’Torah (Laboring in Torah). The Mesilas Yeshorim states that the point of Chassidus is the point of every action being devoted to Hashem and serving Him. We can even reconcile the rest of the Ramchal’s work with the Chassidus of the Baal Shem Tov through this perspective: when a person chooses to orient his focus entirely towards Torah and avodas Hashem, he first must start with certain work in limiting himself and working harder on mitzvos; after this is achieved, then one can begin existing in the state of constant Daas Hashem (Knowledge of Hashem). From the point of constantly knowing Hashem in the aspect of Daas, being the fusion of Chochma and Binah, then one can draw this knowledge to the practical levels, in the Middos (Chesed-Malchus). When this can be maintained, then every action done throughout the day can be truly considered avodas Hashem. This is not too difficult to do, it is relevant to every Yid, it only takes saying Krias Shma with full kavono and accepting Ohl Malchus Shomayim (Yoke of Heavenly Kingdom) upon yourself every day with sincerity and living with that true knowledge that Hashem ultimately is woven into all reality, as we say אין עוד מלבדו, there is no separation between us and Him. All separation is only an illusion and we must work on breaking this through performing mitzvos, learning Torah, davening as we need to, and meditating on His holy name of four letters whenever possible.
Hashem should bentsh us with the ability to serve Him in truth without any ulterior motives, we should lose the illusion of separation between us and Him, and we should merit to see the Moshiach swiftly in our days.