BS”D Parashat Korach 5775
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Is this the Redemption? Is this the Mashiach?
At the present time we number over 6,250,000 Jews in Eretz Yisrael, more than at any time in Jewish history. We have returned from all parts of the globe, as testified to by our complexions – white, brown and dark. For many, our mother tongues are a cacophony of gentile languages, dialects and accents, yet we all speak the language of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov; the language that HaShem Himself uses when communicating with His Tzadikim.
Millions of Jews, returning to our holy roots; toiling, struggling and succeeding remarkably in rebuilding the land and lives which were destroyed 2000 years ago by the Romans.
Is this the redemption we so long prayed for? Is this the Mashiach?
The prophet Hoshea (3,4-5) declared:
(ד) כי ימים רבים ישבו בני ישראל אין מלך ואין שר ואין זבח ואין מצבה ואין אפוד ותרפים:
(ה) אחר ישבו בני ישראל ובקשו את ה’ אלהיהם ואת דוד מלכם ופחדו אל ה’ ואל טובו באחרית הימים:
4) For the Jews will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or memorials… Afterward, the Jews will return and seek the Lord their God and David their King. They will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.
Rashi quotes the Tana Rabbi Shimon ben Menasia who explains that this verse refers to the end of days after the long galut, when HaShem will present to the Jewish people signs of the forthcoming salvation; but only after the Jewish nation will request from Him three things as stated by the prophet: The Kingdom of Heaven (restoration of HaShem’s presence within the nation), restoration of the Davidic dynasty and the Bet HaMikdash.
However, the reality of our lives has faced us with a problem with the teachings of Rabbi Shimon ben Menasia. It is obvious that HaShem has begun the salvation process by our return to Eretz Yisrael. However, we have not fulfilled the three prior requirements set down by Rabbi Shimon: that we request HaShem’s presence in our personal and national lives; the restoration of the Davidic dynasty and the Bet HaMikdash.
The solution to this anomaly can be understood from parshat Korach.
Korach opposed Aharon’s appointment as Kohen Gadol for justifiable reasons, as cited by the various commentators.
At the end of the day, Moshe was unable to refute Korach’s claims, and as a last resort declared the absolute incontestable claim that it was the will of the Almighty that Aharon be the Kohen Gadol. Couldn’t Moshe have thought of a less dogmatic and more empiric claim to contest Korach?
Moshe Rabbeinu established the rules by which the controversy would be resolved. Each individual would bring a Ketoret sacrifice and HaShem would accept the sacrifice of the one who would serve as the Kohen Gadol. Why just the Ketoret?
I submit… Indelible covenant of blood.
Moshe was in fact rejecting all the arguments put forward by Korach; but because of the sensitivity of the issue he was elusive and subtle. By determining the outcome of the conflict by the ketoret sacrifice, Moshe was saying to Korach and his group that Aharon was chosen by HaShem to be the Kohen Gadol, but for reasons we cannot know HaShem exacted from Aharon and his family a heavy price – the death of his two sons Nadav and Avihu when they brought the ketoret sacrifice to the Mishkan.
Moshe was informing the rebels that they sacrificed nothing for the kehuna, whereas Aharon paid the price in silence while hiding his great pain to exhibit the kohanic quality that the service of HaShem is above our human feelings and emotions.
And that quality, you, Korach, do not have.
To return to the question that HaShem has begun the salvation process by our return to Eretz Yisrael, but we have not fulfilled the three cardinal requirements set down by R. Shimon ben Menasia that we must display our desire for HaShem’s presence in our lives; the restoration of the Davidic dynasty and the Bet HaMikdash?
The answer is that just like the self-sacrifice and pain of Aharon, whose two sons died for the kehuna, obviated all the logical claims of Korach, so too has the pain and self-sacrifice of our generation for the sake of Jewish continuity and Eretz Yisrael obviated the conditions for salvation as established by Rabbi Shimon.
From the episode of Korach, we learn that ultimate covenants are created by ultimate acts of sacrifice.
This we see from the earliest revelation of HaShem to Avraham (Bereishiet 17,8-11)
(ח) ונתתי לך ולזרעך אחריך את ארץ מגריך את כל ארץ כנען לאחזת עולם והייתי להם לאלהים:
(ט) ויאמר אלהים אל אברהם ואתה את בריתי תשמר אתה וזרעך אחריך לדרתם:
(י) זאת בריתי אשר תשמרו ביני וביניכם ובין זרעך אחריך המול לכם כל זכר:
(יא) ונמלתם את בשר ערלתכם והיה לאות ברית ביני וביניכם:
8, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you The whole land of Canaan; and I will be their God.”
9 Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. 10 This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.
Jewish survival and our everlasting bond with Eretz Yisrael began in blood, when the Land was given to Avraham and his children in the merit of brit mila. And to this very day, we have had to battle for our possession of the land.
This is the way the Almighty has chosen to test those who are prepared to pay the price for being His chosen people, as apart from those who wish to be “sons” but not ‘builders”.
US Military Build Up
The Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries. This has given rise to concern about Russia’s reaction to a buildup of this sort.
If approved, it would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the US has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence.
The amount of equipment included in the planning is small compared with what Russia could bring to bear against the NATO nations on or near its borders, but it would serve as a credible sign of American commitment, acting as a deterrent the way that the Berlin Brigade did after the Berlin Wall crisis in 1961.
I have written in the past, more than once, that the US will by necessity reintroduce the military draft.
The following is an excerpt from “With All Your Might” to illustrate the point that when it comes, you and your children can forget about coming to Eretz Yisrael.
“The phone rang in the nearly empty, topsy-turvy home of the Levines as they prepared for their aliya to Eretz Yisrael.
Mrs. Beth Levine nervously let the wrapping cord fall from her hand as she ran to answer the phone. Too late. The light on the phone’s base signaled that there was a recorded message.
She pushed the “play” button and a familiar voice spoke: “Hello, this is Miri from Nefesh B’Nefesh. I have two messages for you; a happy one and another, a bit disappointing. The movers will be coming to your home tomorrow morning, Monday, at exactly 7:00 AM, so please be ready. And the not so happy news… I know how much you wanted the three ABC seats by the window, because of your names Al, Beth and Carol, plus the adjoining D seat of the middle section for David, on this Thursday’s flight. But because you are a family of four you were assigned the four DEFG seats in the middle section. In any event, the thrill of going on aliya will certainly overshadow such minor irritations. Aliya tova!”
Miri was so right, Mrs. Levine thought to herself. The thrill of a dream-come-true leaves no room for such mundane issues as seating on a plane; although it would have been nice to see the coastline of Israel drawing closer as the “wings of eagles” brought them home.
Al and Beth Levine had decided to come on aliya five years ago, when Carol was ten and David had his bar-mitzva. However, it took five years for Al to find a suitable replacement in his law firm; in addition, selling the house for the right price was a protracted process. But thank God, the local shul bought it to serve as the community home for whichever rabbi would be serving at the time.
In the interim, the Levines kept up with current events in Israel, as well as developments in the Middle East, and kept their dream alive.
Tensions were high. Iran, patron of the murderous Hezbollah and Hamas gangs, continued to develop a nuclear capacity. The United Nations Security Council passed a limited economic boycott resolution against Iran, and in an angry knee-jerk response, the Iranians decreased their sale of oil, causing the world price to jump to $100 a barrel! As if this was not bad enough, Venezuela’s leftist president signed a ten-year agreement to sell its oil exclusively to China, which brought the price of gas at the pump to $7 a gallon, with no sign that this would be the final price.
But none of this could detract from their decision to come on aliya.
David is to begin Bar Ilan University right after the holidays and Carol is registered in the Ulpan in Kiryat Arba. David was the crisis person in the decision. Youngsters of his age in Israel are drafted into the IDF, but David was promised that he would be permitted to finish his BA uninterrupted by army service.
With this issue behind them, there was really nothing to prevent the Levines from taking the step of a lifetime.
The one annoying factor in their aliya was the attitude of some relatives and friends, who, perhaps for reasons of jealousy or personal weakness, were very critical of their plans. “What’s the rush? Wait until the children finish school. You’re now at your peak earning power. Is this the time to leave?”
On the other hand, the Rabbi was wonderful. On Shabbat, he spoke from the pulpit on the mitzva of living in Eretz Yisrael. He praised the Levines, saying how they would be missed in the many areas of their community involvement. Al for giving up his Sundays in order to coach the shul’s little league team; Beth for being the Shabbat kiddish coordinator; Carol for helping her mother with the kiddishes and David for managing the shul’s teen activities.
But, of course, the Rabbi was careful to point out that the mitzva of living in Eretz Yisrael was in the category of a four-cornered garment, which although not mandatory to wear, if one should do so he would be required to attach to it tzitzit and merit a mitzva. So too, one is not required to “go up to the land” until the Mashiach comes, but if one should do so he merits a great mitzva.
To their skeptical friends and relatives, Al would respond that there have been so many warnings of late that the time has come to go home. So if not now, — when?
The tensions in various areas of the world forced Congress to upgrade the military.
The following day, on Monday, true to Miri’s message, the movers arrived at 7:00 AM sharp to take all the worldly possessions of the Levine family to the packing company, and from there to Israel.
Packing was an unforgettable experience.
Beth Levine stood wondering how they “succeeded” in 20 years of marriage to accumulate so much “stuff”. They began in the attic, which served as a nostalgic trip into the past. Many memories were evoked as they rummaged through their possessions. The less-than-modest wedding gown which Mrs. Levine did not want her Carol to see. A 78 RPM record player, Al’s catcher’s mitt, which he could not part with. Old photographs from the Pineview and Pioneer Hotels and summer camps. How these experiences have sweetened with time.
But life goes on. And with a mental scissors, they will be severed in the light of the new life in the Promised Land.
Eventually, much was given away, more was thrown out, and the necessary articles were now packed in cartons to be shipped off.
In the packing process, the Levines concluded that Moshe Rabbeinu was so right in ordering the Jews to leave with only a few matzot, because if they would have been permitted to bring their possessions we would still be in Mitzrayim.
Ten in the morning and the movers had finished about half the work. A Western Union messenger suddenly arrived with a telegram for Mr. David Levine.
Al signed for it, opened the envelope and read aloud.
“Greetings. You are hereby informed that The President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and Congress in emergency session, have passed the Selective Service Act of 2013, to be enforced immediately. You are hereby ordered to report on May 14, 2013 to the Induction Center at 1948 Independence Ave. for induction into the armed services for a period of not less than three years. You will be sent to Paris Island, Georgia, to commence basic training as a proud United States Marine. Your passport will be on hold until the completion of your military service. Good luck and God’s speed to you in the service of your country.”
Al handed the telegram to Beth as the phone suddenly rang. He got there too late to answer, but the light on the phone’s base signaled that there was a recorded message.
Al pushed the “play” button and a familiar voice sounded.
“Hello, this is Miri again from Nefesh B’Nefesh. Good news. Due to several unexpected last minute cancellations we have been able to get for you the three ABC seats near the window and the D in the middle. Derech Tze’lei’cha.””
It will happen sooner than we think.