This weeks Parsha starts with Korach took. What did he take?
Everytime the Torah uses the word קיחה it’s referring to business. קיחה קיחה משדה עפרון.
So ויקח קרח Korach took his Yiddishkeit on the level of business... I do this, you give me that. We all do that with HaShem. I want a new car so I’ll do a few mitzvos in exchange so HaShem owes me a car etc. Korach was a perfect tzadik, he never did anything wrong. He looks at Aharon, sees he made the Golden Calf, how can he be the Kohen Gadol, the highest position. That should be me!!!
What was Korach’s mistake? He saw the spiritual world the same as the physical world. Why is the other guy president not me? He must be taking my place! So I have to knock him off, push him off his place. But in the spiritual world no one is taking anyone else’s place. Everyone is on their own ladder.
The Earth, the most humble of creations who makes room for everyone and allows everyone to step on it, says to Korach, if you don’t have room for others and think they are always taking your place, then I don’t have room for you! So the Earth opened up and swallowed him.
Brothers and Sisters, may we always have place for each other
(with thanks Dr. Moshe Rothkopf for sharing)
We have beautiful teaching from Mindy Ribner - on the month of Tammuz- the month of fixing of seeing.
We share teachings from Reb Sholom Brodt z'l on how to be careful about Machloket (Arguments) with wisdom for Shalom Habayit (Peace in the Home) and power of greeting people with Shalom.
Tammuz - Reuven - Month of Seeing
As shared by Mindy Ribner who was a close student of Reb Shlomo from 1977 to 1994. Mindy is a certified social worker in private practice incorporating meditation and Kabbalah as part of healing. She is the author of six books on meditation, healing and Biblical women and can be contacted me at Beitmiriam@msn.com to sign up for newsletter. www.Kabbalahoftheheart.com.
" From a secular perspective, many think of the summer as a carefree time, a time to travel, relax and have fun. According to Kabbalah, Tammuz is a hot and challenging month. The heat one experiences is not just physical but also emotional and spiritual. That is why we need to be mindful of the emotional intensity of this month and why it is important to be particularly sensitive to ourselves and others this month. Tammuz is still ultimately a good and wonderful month but only if we know how to use its intense energy constructively. When we do this we grow through challenges in ways that may not be possible at any other period of the year. " Kabbalah Month by Month( Page 247-8)
" The divine permutation for the month is reversed. Tammuz can be a time of reversals. We expect one thing to happen but something totally different happens. As much as we may like to think we are in control of our lives, we need to realize our limitations, let go and invite God into our lives. This is one of the deep teachings of this month.
"As hard as it may be, we must realize that whatever happens to us can be an opportunity for growth and healing. We grow the most when confronting our greatest challenges. Tammuz is a month of judgement, we need to accept that nothing is accidental or coincidental. Through we have free will, everything is also divine providence. ( Kabbalah Month byMonth, pg 251)
" The astrological sign for Tammuz is Cancer. The Hebrew word for cancer is sartan, which means ' Satan". a name that reveals the difficulty of the tests of this month. The ruling body of Cancer is the moon. The moon is always changing, making Tammuz an emotional time with many ups and downs. One has to learn to ride the emotional rollercoaster of Tammuz. " Kabbalah Month by Month)
How do we grow through our challenges and tests? How do we see God amidst all the turmoil? These are questions we must be mindful of during this month. According to this month, the fixing of this month is seeing. We often fail to see life as it is and not as we hope or fear. In last week's Torah portion we read about the spies. Upon seeing the inhabitants of the land of Israel, the spies, with the exception of two of them, report that " we were like grasshoppers in our eyes and so we were in the eyes of their eyes.' ( Numbers 13:33). The ten spies only saw their fear projected. They failed to see the opportunities for growth available in the challenge of entering the land. Most importantly, they forgot that the land had been promised to them by God. Ultimately, their fears were fulfilled. They never entered the land of Israel. They were punished for discouraging others from entering the land.
In this week's Torah portion we read the story of Korah. Korah, a cousin of Moses, along with members of the tribe of Rueven challenged the authority of Moses with words like " You take too much authority upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and the Lord is in their midst. Why do you raise yourselves about the Lord's assembly."
Even though these words may resonate with many freedom loving people today, this dispute with Moses was not considered to be for the sake of heaven, unlike the disputes of Hillel and Shammai. Behind these lofty words, it is said that Korah and the Ruevenites were really jealous of Moses's authority and angry that Moses did not elevate them for leadership roles. Moses tries to warn Korah and his followers to retreat in pursuing conflict with Moses, but they persisted and they died by either fire or were buried by the earth. This Torah portion reminds us that we need to see through externalities to see what the underlying truth we really is, especially in pursuing conflict. If we are honest with ourselves and find that jealousy is underneath our conflict, we need to purify our hearts and deepen our faith before we make accusations or judgments against others. These teachings seem to have particular resonance for today's heated political climate.
The month of Tammuz is about perfection of our seeing. What we see reflects our thinking. We must know that we are not limited or stuck in our thinking. We can change and transform our negative thinking. This month we need to breathe, meditate, and open to see life more clearly and calmly. During this month of Tammuz, we may be asked to see through appearances, and if it is necessary, internal and external structures will begin to break down to allow us true seeing to occur. During this month of reversals, we may find that what we held as true is now seen as false. It is confusing, not always easy or comfortable. But truth is most important. As it is said, the truth will set us free.
Many times people become upset about something that is not true. When we are upset or frustrated, we need to question our assumptions. Take a moment to review recent responses to events in your life. If you are upset about something or someone, might you be making assumptions that are not true?
What helps us to grow through challenge and difficulty? Faith and gratitude can help us to transform what seems bitter into something sweet. If we believe in God, if we talk to God, if we connect to God, if we meditate, we can find that place of peace and unconditional love within us even in the midst of chaos and strife. It is at those times that it becomes clear to us that we can grow through challenges and become happier and better people. Nevertheless, there may still be times when our vision is obstructed and we can not see our way forward. At those times we have to simply let go of our resistance to life as life is showing up for us and get down on our knees ( metaphorically, usually) to call out for divine assistance and faith. Try it literally sometimes. Get down on your knees and open yourself to God. It is one thing to stand before God, and another thing to be on your knees before God. I know that Jews do not usually do that. We Jews used to kneel before the Christians adopted this practice and then we stopped doing it so as to distinguish ourselves from them. If you have never gotten on your knees before God, either literally or metaphorically, you may not yet have opened yourself to receive divine love and compassion.
From either a kneeling, sitting or standing position, raise your arms up to the sky. Know that your hands and fingers are spiritual antennas. Focus on your breath, deepen your breath, and open your heart and body to receive God's love. Imagine that your hands reach into heaven. And the top of your head opens to receive blessings from above. Hold your hands upwards as long as you can. Then very slowing allow your arms to float downwards, pausing several times as you return your hands to your sides.
During this month of Tammuz, let's remember that meditation, prayer and doing good deeds opens gates of blessing no matter what is taking place around us. God is always present, even when life seems challenging. It is we who need to call out and open ourselves to receive and give.
Blessings for a transformational Tammuz. Blessings, Melinda Mindy Ribner.
Tammuz - Fixing of Our Eyes – By R’ Sholom Brodt z”l
We are at the beginning of the month of Tammuz- the month of fixing of seeing. It is the month of Reuven. When her first son was born Leah said "SEE that Hashem has given me a son." It is during this month that the spies were looking at the Land of Israel. We must learn to look with our right eyes, with our good eyes. It is during this month that the scouts first saw Eretz Yisrael.
May we all be blessed to continue fixing our eyes, until we will all see the holiness of Eretz Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Torat Yisrael b’simcha together with Moshiach, quickly Now!
How did the satan take Korach?
if you think that your 'tallit' is completely blue- that you are whole and complete in your G-d consciousness if you think that because your house is filled with all the holy scrolls- that you are completely filled with Torah knowledge and therefore you don't need the פתיל תכלת blue thread on your tallit, or a mezuzah on your doorposts and gateways
if you think that you achieved complete holiness by yourself beware - you are a ripe fruit ready to be picked by the satan who will use you with your victim consciousness and lead you to a tragic end ויקח he took, he, the 'satan', took קורח Korach
שלום בית Shalom Bayit - Peace in your Home
In parshat Korach we encounter our deepest national and personal challenges. We have experienced a continuous rise in divorces for well over 40 years. I used to wonder what will be with all the children who grew up in the midst of [sometimes even vicious] arguments and fights between their fathers and mothers, would they still trust that it is possible the have Shalom Bayit- peaceful homes; would they still have trust that מחלוקת 'machloket' - argument, confrontation can be overcome and that real unity can be achieved?
It is of utmost importance that we learn and know how to fix. Knowledge and understanding alone of the dangers of ‘machloket’ are not enough. The fact is that we have to deal with division and though it is dangerous, there is something holy in it, for Hashem created it.
The very creation of the ‘second day’ is Hashem’s Creation of division. Because of unresolved separation it does not say “and Elokim saw ‘ki tov’- that it was good” on the second day of Creation, since it is left up to us to use ‘machloket’ only in the holiest of ways. But on the third day when separation first produces growth and life, it says “and Elokim saw ‘ki tov’- that it was good” TWICE!
Reb Shlomo zt”l told us that when he was still a young boy he asked ‘why don’t we have a ‘messechtas Sholom Bayis’ – we have a Talmud volume on divorce- Gittin, and we have one on marriage- Kiddushin, and we have one on marriage contracts- Ketubot – so why don’t we have a volume on Shalom Bayit, replete with teachings on how to build a home of real peace?
I sincerely invite everyone to share your ideas on effective ways to build homes with real Shalom Bayit. Please do send these to us, so that we may learn them together. The following is just a ‘skeletal outline’ of a hopefully helpful process for turning around the energy of a heated argument; it is not the solution or resolution, it is meant to shift the people involved and the energy towards being allies instead of rivals. Try it and see if you like it.
1. Chattan and Kallah, husband and wife, parents and children, make a holy agreement that anyone has the right to call for “time-out”. It is useful to agree upon a simple signal e.g., a number or a word, which when called out will be respected to immediately stop arguing for at least 5-10 minutes.
2. During the time-out: -each side is to sit quietly, breathe slowly and deeply, and say a simple sincere prayer, such as, ‘Hashem please help me keep my heart open to making peace.’
3. -next, focus on a personal positive point – ‘nekudah tovah’ and express genuine gratitude that you have had the opportunity to actually do something good at least once in your life!
4. -next, focus on a nekudah tovah – positive point in the person you have been arguing with, appreciate their good point and ‘see’ them in that place
5. -give each other blessings of all kinds [and if you find that you are not yet ready to bless the one you were arguing with, start by giving blessings to others and to yourself; this will quickly put you into a better space and then you will be able to give an honest blessing to your challenger – this will allow you and your rival to become allies
6. -end the time out with a prayer to see with a ‘good eye’ and together resolve the conflict in a peaceful way: no one should feel that they weren’t heard- and if you need someone to help you do that then don’t be shy or too proud to get help
7. Repeat as often as necessary – b’simcha and with Hashem’s help you will grow to be the beautiful person you truly wish to be. Remember this is just a brief outline, try to use it well.
If I remember correctly one of the answers to Reb Shlomo’s question is that we are the ones who need to write Masseches Sholom Bayis. Another answer is that you don’t learn Shalom Bayit from a book, you have to engage yourself to work as hard as necessary towards achieving it. Let’s do it.
In the last Mishna in 'masechet Brachot' the first volume of the Talmud, we learn: "when the 'minim' [non-believers in the complete and total Oneness of Hashem] had caused distortions in the belief of Hashem, the Rabbis made a 'takkanah' [a fixing], that the verse in Psalms should read "Blessed is the name of Hashem from the (this) world unto (all) the world (s)"; and they further made another 'takkanah' that each person should greet his friend in the name of Hashem".
The 'minim' believed that there is a G-d in heaven, but He does not care to pay attention to what is going on here in this world.....as if this world is void of Hashem 'chas veshalom'. ... and so the Rabbis made 'takkanot' to fix the situation. The second 'takkanah' that we are to say hello to each other by using Hashem's name, is very interesting. This is the reason why we say Shalom to each other, for "Shalom" is [one of] the names of Hashem !
Now think about this. Why would saying "Shalom" to your neighbour instead of "Hello" make a difference? Would my friend's use of Hashem's name in saying hello to me make any difference if i wasn't a believer? Why is it that sometimes when you see a religious Jew you feel 'connected' and close, and sometimes you feel distant and estranged?
Reb Shlomo ztz"l explained that there are two ways in doing a mitzvah. You can do the mitzvah for yourself alone, because you want to do the right thing, but you aren't connected to your fellow Jews. Your religious practice is between you and yourself, and like minded people; the rest are 'non-practitioners' or 'non-believers'. Then there is doing a mitzvah "b'sheym kol Yisrael" in the name of all of Israel, in the name of every single Jew. You are connected to each Jew and you are serving Hashem on behalf of everyone. So Reb Shlomo explained that when you meet such a Jew, who acts 'b'shem kol Yisrael', in the name of all of Israel, even if you yourself are not practicing the mitzvot so much, you feel connected to them.
The Rabbis desired that when we meet each other, the presence of Hashem should be real and sincerely experienced. We are not allowed to utter Hashem's name in vain. When you say "Shalom" and you concentrate on Hashem's true Oneness, and holiness, and you realize that the person you are now greeting is one of Hashem's children, and you sincerely open your heart making space for Hashem and His creatures, then the 'neshama' of the "min" the one who says he doesn't believe in the presence of Hashem in this world, will also without a doubt truly sense the reality of Hashem in this world.
Reb Shlomo ztz"l said: "While you say hello to someone you have to make a little place for them in your heart. Maybe people's feet stand on the ground, but their hearts need another heart to have a place in". The Holy Beggar's Banquet. p118.
When you meet and say Shalom, in a friendly and loving manner such that Hashem will feel invited and will desire to be present in your encounter, nothing more needs to be said. Then Hashem is no longer a matter of philosophical discussion and proofs.
THE INGREDIENTS OF PEACE
The world would really like to have peace, but they don't know what it is, and they don't know how to get it. Imagine you go into a hardware store to buy ice cream. They won't have it, right? People would like to have peace, but they are always going to the wrong store. They talk to the wrong people about it.
Peace between people is not something you can work on. It's a gift, the highest gift there is from Heaven.
Peace is the greatest light which can shine from Heaven. I can ask G-d, "Please make me well, and healthy, and rich, and give me everything in the world," It is possible that one person should be sick, G-d forbid, and another one well, because health and riches come from a place where they can be given to an individual.
Peace comes from such a high place that is not given to one person. I can't say to G-d, "Please give me peace. The rest of the world I don't care about." Peace has to be between me and the world, and between me and people, and between me and somebody else.
Peace comes from the highest place there is, from that holy place where the whole world is one. There is a prayer for peace which we say three times a day, and it is very strong. We pray, "Please G-d, Sim Shalom, You put peace into the world. Only You can do it." SHALOM ALEICHEM MALACHEI HASHALOM – PEACE UNTO YOU ANGELS OF SHALOM
The Fixing of Machloket and Anger
[The following is a digest of parsha lessons that we learned in previous years; compiled and edited by Miriam Aziz. As Reb Shlomo used to say ‘bless me and I bless you back’ may these words of Torah reach us deeply and inspire us to truly move towards true unity.]*
The following lesson is based on the Sfas Emes Korach 5651:
Hebrew words used in this lesson: שלום 'shalom' – peace התקשרות 'hitkashrut' - connection אהבה 'ahavah' - love מחלוקת 'machloket' - argument, confrontation לשם שמים 'lesheim shamayim' - for the sake of heaven מנוחה ‘menucha’- rest and tranquility
Shalom שלום peace is a wonderful thing; it actually arises out of מחלוקת -machloket- argument.
Simply, you need two sides to make peace, you need two opinions to make peace. If the 'machloket' is 'lesheim shamayim' - for the sake of heaven then you merit to achieve 'shalom' at the end.
Shalom means התקשרות 'hitkashrut' – connection, not just coexistence. ( Shalom also means ‘whole’, ‘complete’) To have shalom, the two opposing sides must ultimately complement one another, so that together they both tell the larger truth. Together they create a deeper and more complete understanding of the truth. When both sides are arguing only because both sides are sincerely seeking the truth, then Hashem will enlighten their eyes, and peace will arise from within the מחלוקת, argument.
Shalom is the aspect of Yosef ha’tzaddik, who rose from the pit of snakes and scorpions to become the provider for his family and all of Egypt during the great famine. From within the confrontation, both Yosef and his brothers reached their higher selves and they attained שלום peace.
When opposites join together, there follows birth. Male and female are opposites in many ways. When they come together, there is birth and new life. But this can be only so long as both sides are sincerely seeking the truth. As both are seeking the same thing and they will clash and argue along the way, even fiercely. They might even hate each other in the process, but so long as their motivations are pure they will discover ,שלום peace and love in the end. They will both find their truths, and they will discover the larger truth that contains both of their clashing truths.
The same goes for the inner dimension of time. Though each of the six work days has a unique quality, they all come together through Shabbat. Shabbos brings them all together, as the Midrash says, the one thing that was missing at the end of the first six days of Creation was מנוחה ‘menucha’- rest and tranquility. The love that comes after an honest מחלוקת was provided by Shabbos. שבת קודש the holy Shabbos is the gift of Hashem’s love which elevates and unites the six individual days and brings them all back to their supernal source in the point of unity.
“These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.” (Bereishit 2:4) The generations, the births are mentioned right after the creation of שבת – the gift of Hashem’s love that brings opposites together and each contributes to one another in harmonious love that results in the holy miracle of birth and new life- the manifestation of אמת ושלום – truth and peace together.
It is only with the help of heaven that we can find truth and peace in this world that is inhabited by man. The Midrash tells us that אמת ושלום – truth and peace initially objected to the creation of man. Truth said that man is full of lies, and peace said that man is always fighting, arguing and warring. But Hashem created man anyway and brought truth and peace into the world; that is He did make it possible for man to find them.
But one who stays in ,מחלוקת argument cannot remain alive in this world. Man’s survival in this world is conditional upon our striving for truth and peace. And so, Hashem gave us the gift of the opportunity to find ,שלום from within the מחלוקת.
Nevertheless, arguments and confrontation remain extremely dangerous. They are productive only when they are conducted לשם שמים – for the sake of heaven.
מחלוקת - BEWARE OF ITS DANGERS
The word מחלוקת, pronounced machloket, means argument. The verb לחלק –lechalek is to divide into parts, to break apart. This is what almost always happens when people get into arguments their unity is broken apart. The Shel”a hakadosh teaches that the very letters of the word מחלוקת illustrate the process and dangerous development and progression of arguments: BEWARE OF ITS DANGERS
מחלוקת The letter ‘taf’ has two sturdy feet, resembling how as the ‘machloket’ continues it acquires permanence and is increasingly difficult to end. The letter ‘kuf’ has a long foot resembling how the fire of the ‘machloket’ burns deep all the way down into the abyss AND DESTROYS YOU INSIDE. The letter ‘vav’ resembles a support staff upon which one sustains the ‘machloket’ – and as the ‘machloket’ grows it turns into a venomous snake The letter ‘lammed’ resembles a flying tower and represents the flames and the heat of the ‘machloket’ rising way way up to heaven; the fires of machloket rises from the heart and consumes the consciousness of the intellect The ‘chet’ Notice that the opening here is expanded - far larger than in the ‘mem’ – the ‘machloket’ has expanded and the two sides are much further apart; it is now much more difficult to resolve the issues The letter ‘mem’ has but a small opening at the bottom, resembling how ‘machloket’ usually starts over a small matter, but if not resolved immediately, it will …..
Teachings from our holy Rabbis on anger. • Rav Brachyah taught: Beware of the severity and horrible dangers of מחלוקתfor it can bring death even to infants, may Hashem have compassion upon us and bless us with peace. This is what happened to Korach and his rebellious group, • Erev Shabbat. It is particularly important to be extra careful not to get into arguments with your spouse and the people in your home and family. The holy Chidah says that at this time the 'sitra achra - the 'other side' works extra hard to bring on arguments and strife, to prevent us from entering into the peace of Shabbat! We need to be extra careful to turn up our humility at this time. • מחלוקת on Shabbat - The holy Zohar teaches that having heated arguments on Shabbos, is like transgressing on the prohibition "Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day.' • When you reach a high place - be it in your service of Hashem or your study of Torah, or high levels of awareness and intelligence, it is so easy to become intolerant! Gifted people find it quite hard to be tolerant and humble. It takes a lot of work to achieve true honest humility. • If you are at the 'top of the mountain' and you look down on others, you will stop growing, because you are looking the wrong way. You are looking down instead of up! • מחלוקת starts with a discernable reason, an argument over 'something' - even something small. If it is not stopped right away it continues and gives rise to greater and more intense argument, even for no reason. It is comparable to a small break in a dam. At first the water seeps through slowly. If not repaired immediately, it will soon come gushing in raging torrents. • Anger creates a dangerous energy that feeds on itself and produces more and more anger. • Should someone arise in anger against you, it is best to be silent and think about why would Hashem bring this upon you. Think deeply about this and you will discern important information about how you can improve your service of Hashem.
FOR THE SAKE OF HEAVEN
Reb Berish of Biala zy"a, explained that Korach used his wisdom to seduce and convince two hundred and fifty great and holy leaders to join him in rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu. Apparently, they did not immediately accept Korach's arguments, but with much wisdom he convinced them to join him. How did he do this?
The Midrash tells us that he dressed each one of them in a garment that was 'kulo tchelet' – completely dyed in the 'tchelet' blue color, the dye used for the tzitzit strings on the tallis. Together they came to Moshe and asked him, "Is a garment that is entirely tchelet – 'kulo tchelet', required to have tzitzit?" Moshe Rabbeinu replied that these garments required tzitzit. At this Korach and his associates scoffed and laughed.
Korach's argument was that each one of them possessed their own truth, their own light and therefore there was no need to follow Moshe Rabbeinu's teachings. Indeed, Korach argued that Moshe Rabbeinu had no right to impose 'his' personal conception of truth and light over anyone else, for his truth was no more valid than anyone else's. The Biala Rebbe says that Korach's argument is alluded to in the fact that he gathered 250 followers. Two hundred and fifty is the numerical value of the word 'neir' [nun = 50 and reish = 200]. "neir Hashem nishamat adam," the candle of G-d is the soul of man; "Neir mitzvah" = each person has their own mitzvah light.
The entirely tchelet blue garments that each one of them donned, represented the notion that each one of them had achieved their own deep and holy connection with Hashem, that each one of them on their own had attained holiness and perfection, by virtue of their own light. Therefore, Korach argued that there was no need for anyone to raise himself above anyone else, and being that Moshe had done so, he had done so on his own and was unjustly imposing his own truth upon the rest of the community.
Korach's 'convincing' arguments undermined everyone's faith in Moshe, in the Torah that he taught, in his leadership and finally caused a split in the community. Ultimately they would undermine the concept of community altogether. Since we each have our own truths, our own lights – is there really any absolute truth for all to follow? Is there one light that shines for all and includes all? Is there any real objective truth?
Ultimately we come to the question: "What is Torah and what is its authority?" According to the Rambam – Maimonides, the eighth principle of the thirteen elemental principles of Jewish faith, is: "Ani maamin – I believe with complete faith that the entire Torah that is now in our hands, is the same one that was given to Moses our teacher, peace be upon him."
The 7th principle is that we believe that Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy was true and that he was the father of the prophets and the greatest of all prophets – both those that preceded him and those that followed him.
Yes! Each person should become a "tallit sh'kulo tchelet." Each person should find their personal mitzvah in which their personal light will shine ever so bright, permeating their inner selves and emanating outwardly. Each person should and is obligated to fulfil their personal purpose and mission in this world. We are not and we should not be and we are not allowed to be carbon copies, even of the great and holy tzadikkim. Each one of us has a unique purpose in being here, each one of us is obligated to discover [uncover] our own personal light and share it in our world. Yet we need to make sure that we also have tzitzit – fringes, at the corners of our tallit garments. The garment itself represents your own personal truth, the tzitzit represent the connections between your truth and the truth that Hashem has revealed in His Torah; between your truth and the truth of your neighbor.