תשע”ט פ’ קרח
Volume 29, Issue 5
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ןיקח קרח…ודתן ואבירם…ואון בן פלת
“Korach took…and Datan and Aviram…and On, the son of Pelet…” (16:1)
Many sages wonder at the grammar in the beginning of this verse. It says “Vayikach Korach – Korach took”, in the singular. Since four people are mentioned, it should have written “Vayikchu Korach”, in the plural. It was intentionally written in the singular to allude to the fact that the people of Korach’s assembly were not united in their dispute against Moshe and Aharon. Each one had an individual, selfish, and personal stand for which he partook in the dispute. (R’ Kalisher)
ויבא משה אל אהל העדות והנה פרח מטה אהרן לבית לוי ויצא פרח ויצא ציץ ויגמל שקדים
“And Moshe came inside the Tent of Testimony and behold the staff of Aharon blossomed for the house of Levi, a blossom came forth and blossomed buds and bore ripe almonds…” (17:23)
Rav Simchah HaKohen Sheps tz”l explains that the buds on the rod of Aharon allude to the Torah, which is referred to as Eitz Chaim. Unlike other intellectual pursuits where the many equations and steps only serve the purpose of determining the final answer, in the case of Torah learning, every moment of Torah study is an end unto itself. Each question, answer, proof and contradiction is, in itself, Torah study and pure, unadulterated avodas Hashem. Thus, with Torah study, the “bud” – the process of study is equally as important as the “ripened almond” – the final conclusion. For this reason, the rod of Aharon was covered with blossoms and almonds.
Rav Meir Premishlan zt”l comments on the verse: Those who seek Hashem have a happy heart (Divrei Hayamim 1:3). Only with learning Torah does simchah come from the act of seeking. May the fruits of our labor and the flowering of our avodah bring about the true simcha that comes only through the process of learning Torah and avodas Hashem. (Something to Say)
אך פדה תפדה את בכור האדם ואת בכור הבהמה הטמאה תפדה
“However, you shall surely redeem the first born of man and you shall also redeem the firstling of unclean beasts…” (18:15)
From this verse we learn that it is a mitzvah to redeem a firstborn son from the Kohen. We further learn vital details pertaining to this command. The redemption takes place on the thirty-first day of the infant’s life, the father of the child gives the Kohen the equivalent of five silver coins, the weight of which must be at least 96 grams of pure silver,not just five new silver dollars. The Torah commands to redeem the mother’s firstborn son. Thus, it is possible that a father can redeem his firstborn son two or even three times, if he remarries after being widowed or divorced.
In contrast to a brit milah which can take place on Shabbat or Yom Tov, a pidyon haben cannot. If the 31st day is Shabbat, then the pidyon haben takes place the next day. And in a case where the child was not yet circumcised due to health reasons or a low birth weight, he is still redeemed by the Kohen on the 31st day. (The Call of the Torah)
ופדויו מבן חדש תפדה בערכך כסף חמשת שקלים
“Those that are to be redeemed, from one month shall you redeem them according to your valuation, five silver shekels…” (18:16)
QUESTION: According to the Torah, a day begins with the preceding night. Why is it customary to make a pidyon haben on the thirty-first day and not the night before? (Yorah Deah, 305: 12, Shach) Moreover, the Torah states the reason for pidyon haben is because “on the day I struck down every firstborn in the land of of Egypt . I sanctified every firstborn of Israel for Myself” (3:13) and the slaying of the firstborn was at midnight?
ANSWER: Since the firstborn were slain at midnight, instead of saying “beyom hakoti kol bechor” – “on the day when I struck every firstborn”, it should say “b’leil – “on the night.” The use of the term “beyom” – “the day” – can be explained with the Zohar’s statement (Shemot 38a) that the night Hashem revealed Himself in Egypt was as bright as broad daylight, as Dovid HaMelech says, “And night is luminous as day” (Psalms 139:12). To commemorate the slaying of the Egyptian and the saving of the Jewish firstborn, which brought about the concept of pidyon haben, and which took place when it was light, we perform the pidyon haben during the day.
Rabbi Yaakov Emden writes in his siddur, “if necessary a pidyon haben may be done after chatzot – midnight.” The reason for this may be that since the pidyon haben commemorates the miracle of the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn and the saving of the Jewish firstborn, which took place at midnight, it stands to reason that a pidyon haben may be performed after midnight. (Haderush V’haiyun)
כל תרומת הקדשים…נתתי לך ולבניך…ברית מלח עולם הוא
“Everything that is separated form the holy things…have I given to you and your sons…it is an eternal covenant of salt…” (18:19)
QUESTION: What is the connection between salt and the priestly gifts?
ANSWER: Some people, unfortunately, do not give tzedakah because they are reluctant to give away part of their wealth. The Torah, therefore, is telling us that tzedakah is like salt: it causes meat to shrink somewhat, but the preservative effect far outweighs the loss. Similarly, though on the surface it appears that one’s net value is shrinking, in reality, thanks to the tzedakah, one’s earnings are preserved.