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Psalm 48 opens with the following verse:
שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר, לִבְנֵי-קֹרַח
גָּדוֹל יְהוָה וּמְהֻלָּל מְאֹד בְּעִיר אֱלֹהֵינוּ, הַר-קָדְשׁוֹ
A Song; a Psalm of the sons of Korah
Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, in the city of our God, His holy mountain
The question is:
How is it that there is s psalm composed by the sons of Korah, who were supposedly swallowed by the earth, when it opened its mouth as is stated in the Torah portion of Korah:
וַיְהִי, כְּכַלֹּתוֹ, לְדַבֵּר, אֵת כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה; וַתִּבָּקַע הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר תַּחְתֵּיהֶם
וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת-פִּיהָ, וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת-בָּתֵּיהֶם, וְאֵת כָּל-הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר לְקֹרַח, וְאֵת כָּל-הָרְכוּשׁ
וַיֵּרְדוּ הֵם וְכָל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, חַיִּים–שְׁאֹלָה; וַתְּכַס עֲלֵיהֶם הָאָרֶץ, וַיֹּאבְדוּ מִתּוֹךְ הַקָּהָל
And it came to pass, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground did cleave asunder that was under them.
And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
So they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit; and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the assembly. (Numbers 16: 31-33)
The answer appears in this week’s Torah portion Pinchas (as read in Israel):
וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת-פִּיהָ, וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת-קֹרַח–בְּמוֹת הָעֵדָה: בַּאֲכֹל הָאֵשׁ, אֵת חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם אִישׁ, וַיִּהְיוּ, לְנֵס
and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died; what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men, and they became a sign.
Notwithstanding the sons of Korah died not. (Numbers 26: 10-11)
So, it appears that after all Korah’s sons avoided the terrible death of being swallowed by the earth.
Our sages and commentators provide several explanations to that.
Let’s take a look what Rashi has to say:
The sons of Korah didn’t die [for] they were involved in the conspiracy at first, but during the dispute, they had thoughts of repentance – הרהורי תשובה “hirhurei teshuva” – in their hearts.
Therefore, an elevated area was secured for them in gehinom, where they remained.
Let’s pay attention to the words “thoughts of repentance”.
Rashi did not say ‘they had repentance’. He stated ‘they had thoughts of repentance in their hearts’.
So, for the sons of Korah it was enough to “just” have heartly thoughts think of repentance to be saved.
Nowadays, when navigating with the GPS, we often get a message such as: “RECALCULATING ROUTE” when we deviate form the original course.
Then we get suggestions to correct the course to still get to the original destination after we have deviated. And we do have to take certain action to change that course.
It is not enough to just think of changing the course.
However, what Rashi suggested contains a very powerful principle.
In spirituality, it might be enough to have profound thoughts of repentance in one’s HEART to be able to change the course of one’s life…
We are now in the midst of a hot summer in Israel.
The Hebrew name of the first of the hot summer months is “Tamuz” – תמוז.
During the history of Jewish people many tragic events occurred in Tamuz and specifically on the 17th of Tamuz:
1. The tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments were broken by Moses when he descended from Mt. Sinai and saw the People of Israel worshipping a golden calf.
2. The daily offering was discontinued in the first Temple because Jerusalem was under siege and it was impossible to obtain the animals needed.
3. The wall around the city of Jerusalem was breached by the enemy in the times of the second Temple.
4. Apostomos burnt the book of Torah.
5. An idol was placed in the Temple.
Rashi explains that this month is called Tamuz because in Aramaic it literally means “heat.”
He also notes that the Tamuz idol that was placed in or near the Holy Temple was fabricated with eyes made of lead. When heated up, the idol’s eyes would shed tears of lead, which would run down its face.
It seems, that our sages chose the false god of the Tamuz to provide us with a case study of the problem of idolatry and its solution. The month of Tamuz is thus the time of year best suited for understanding and practicing the process of transformation.
According to Kabbalah the sense of the month of Tamuz is: sight. This means that the month of Tamuz is the best month of the year to learn to exercise our sight in the most positive way possible. Rectified (good) sight involves both staying away from that which is negative and training ourselves to see things in a positive light, which means that we should seek to see only the good points in others.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, found this idea in the verse: “A bit more and the wicked will be no more; for you will gaze at his place, and he will be gone.” (Psalms 37, 10)
Rabbi Nachman explained that by these words, King David meant that by ignoring the wickedness in a person and by searching for the good in him or her, one’s gaze has the power to annul evil.
Recalculating route – ‘M’KHASHEV MASLUL MEKHADASH’
מחשב מסלול מחדש
Please pay attention that the English prefix Re… as in Recalculating is often expressed in Hebrew by the word מחדש, which literally means ‘anew’.
Thus, for instance:
Rewrite – לכתוב מחדש – ‘LIKHTOV MEKHADASH’
Rebuild – לבנות מחדש – ‘LIVNOT MEKHADASH’
Rethink – לחשוב מחדש – ‘LAKHSHOV MEKHADASH’
May this month of Tamuz be the month in which we have good thoughts (and sometimes we need to rethink/recalculate) in our hearts to rectify our sight and see the GOOD points in each other.
Yoel & Orly
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