The previous Torah portion, Shelach, discussed how the spies and Jewish people rebelled against G‑d. This week's portion, Korach, speaks about a rebellion against their leader, Moses. Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsh writes that these portions are juxtaposed because both entail unmitigated heresy. Rebbe Bunim of P'shischa writes that Korach's terrible mistake was in trying to forcefully seize the leadership and its glory.

Everyone agrees that Korach had great talents. Nevertheless, leadership is determined by Heaven. This is what the Torah emphasizes in the first verse "And Korach took" (16:1). Rebbe Bunim is describing a systemic form of anarchy, where each person deals with his, and only his, portion of reality. Usurping leadership only leads to a person's downfall. Having Jewish books at home does not guarantee that we will behave properly…

The Lubavitcher Rebbe sees Korach's core flaw in a very different way. Korach claimed that a house filled with Torah scrolls is exempted from a mezuzah on the door, saying that if a mezuzah has but two Torah paragraphs ("Shema" and "V'haya"), why is it required on a house containing hundreds more? Moses answered that we are always commanded to affix a mezuzah at the entrance of our homes. Having Jewish books at home does not guarantee that we will behave properly. On the other hand, when entering or exiting our home, the mezuzah reminds us to perform G‑d's commandments. This understanding was lacking in Korach.

From his mistake not only do we learn the importance and necessity of a mezuzah, but also we learn that we must each have our own personal spiritual mezuzah. We must affix it upon our hearts and minds, as a constant reminder that our every action must be in accord with G‑d's will. As the physical mezuzah is fixed outside for all passersby to see, the spiritual mezuzah, the consciousness that G‑d is watching us, must be apparent in all of our actions. The "Shema" in the mezuzah promises plentiful rain and harvests for observing the mitzvot; so too, the person who fixes the "Shema" in his heart will be blessed with all manner of good things. Passivity, in Judaism, is the antithesis of our purpose…

Similarly, one of the Rebbe's key messages to us is that "action is the main thing!" Passivity, in Judaism, is the antithesis of our purpose. Let us examine and affix our personal spiritual mezuzahs, reminding ourselves to actively fulfill more Torah and mitzvot.

The Seer of Lublin asks why Korach's lineage was specified "...Korach, son of Yitzhar, son of Kehoth, son of Levi..." (Num. 16:1) We learn that often a person's parentage is what causes someone to expect to be honored. Therefore, the Seer of Lublin says that a person should be careful not to be mislead by this idea. To be sure, no one is discounting the great benefit a child has from unique parental status or lineage. There is an old saying: "How can you guarantee that your daughter will marry the son of a wise person? By making her the daughter of a wise person...." Nevertheless, this is one of the lessons we are required to teach our young: not to assume superiority based on who their parents may be.

The Baal Shem Tov once told Rebbe Michil of Zlotshuv that his father, Rebbe Yitzchak of Drovitch, was given one of the lowliest souls of his entire generation. Despite this, Rebbe Yitzchak's continued efforts elevated him to the level of the great Talmudic scholar and mystic, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Hearing this, Rebbe Michil said that he now understood the statement that a person is required to ask himself, 'When will my deeds reach the level of those of my forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?' (Eliyahu Rabba). While this may appear presumptuous, we see from Rebbe Yitzchak that a person does have the potential to elevate his soul to incomparably higher levels.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

For an additional presentation on the subject of the Mezuzah see our article Mezuzah - the Arrow of Life.

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