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Parshas Korach 5774
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June 20, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 31
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Dvar Torah

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts   


By Rabbi Yakir Schechter


            In this week's Parsha we read of Korach's complaint to Moshe: "For the entire assembly - all of them - are holy and Hashem is among them; why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of Hashem?" According to Rashi, Korach's complaint to Moshe was if you, Moshe, were chosen to lead B'nei Yisrael then it is not fair to choose your brother, Aharon, for the Kehuna. In response to Korach's audacity, Moshe castigates: is it not enough that you were chosen above the other tribes as a member of the tribe of Levi?! How dare you demand to be part of the Kohanim!


            Moshe's response is difficult to understand. Was Korach's request to be part of the Kohanim not legitimate? What was wrong with desiring to be part of an elite, G-d chosen group?


             In his sefer Divrei Bina, Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Rabinowitz, the Rebbe of Biala, writes that we all know that the 248 positive commandments correspond to the 248 bones in the body and the 365 negative commandments correspond to the 365 sinews in the body. When a person fulfils all of the commandments his body becomes spiritually uplifted and complete in the eyes of Hashem. The problem with this is that no one person can possibly fulfil every mitzvah as some mitzvos are only relevant to Kohanim and others only to men while others only to women. How then can one achieve completion? The answer is through unity. When we are all one and stick together we are like one person. When the Kohanim fulfill their mitzvos, the men their mitzvos, and the women their mitzvos, each group complements the next, unifying the various mitzvos and Klal Yisrael as a whole.


          Hashem gives each and every person certain strengths that only they possess. Each person has special qualities that enable him/her to impact the world in a unique way, a way in which only he/she can accomplish. No one person is better than the next as each person is necessary for his/her purpose.


        This is what Korach failed to understand. He erroneously believed that a person in a position of power necessarily means that he/she is inherently superior to others, resulting in his complaining about the Kehuna. In truth, however, any position which a person holds is G-d given. Hashem ultimately deems who is fit for what, placing people where they need to be in in order to fulfill their role. Moshe was telling Korach that he has no right to complain. Hashem decreed that he remain a Levi and only Korach, as a Levi, could fulfil his unique role in that capacity.


          We must always remember this valuable lesson, that there is never a reason to envy a fellow Jew. The Jewish people are made up of individual parts, all equally necessary for its thriving. May Hashem aid us in internalizing this message so we can feel total unity, making way for the success of Klal Yisrael.





Dvar Halacha

 Halachos of Tachanun      Part 2



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



We discussed last week how careful one must be not to interrupt between davening Shemoneh Esrei and reciting tachanun (Shulchan Aruch 131:1).  It is important to note, that only talking is prohibited, but walking around is not a problem (Mishneh Berurah 131:2).  One is obligated to answer devarim shebikdushah (lit. holy phrases, e.g. Kaddish & Borchu) while reciting Tachanun (Mishneh Berurah 131:1).  Therefore, if one is in the middle of tachanun he must answer amen to Kaddish.  According to Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit"a, he should remain seated while answering (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 25: ftnt. 27).  One is not required to stop to recite Aleinu or V'yehee Binsoa Ha'aron etc. together with the tzibbur (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 25:13 & ftnt. 47- 48 quoting Harav Chaim Kaneivsky, shlit"a).


As mentioned last week, this prayer was instituted as an imitation of the various positions Moshe Rabbeinu davened inAlthough when Moshe "fell on his face" he was completely prostrated, we do not bow down completely, rather we lean our head downwards.  It is important to note, one should not put his forehead directly onto his own skin, rather he should have some sort of separation [e.g. an article of clothing or tissue].  The reason for this is because one's face is supposed to be covered, and since one's head and arm are all part of one body, it is not considered as if he has covered his body (Mishneh Berurah 131:3).  This halachah is especially relevant during the hot, summer months, for if one is wearing a short-sleeved shirt he should be conscious to have a separation.


There is a machlokes which arm to lean on.  The Rama rules that during Shacharis it is proper to lean on the right hand, since it is not kavod (repectful) to lean on the Tefillin [which are on the left hand].  However, any time that one is not wearing Tefillin [e.g. Mincha] one should lean on his left hand (Rama 131:1).  A left-handed person [who is wearing his Tefillin on his right hand], should lean on his left hand (Pri Megadim MZ 131:2).  Furthermore, a left-handed person who is not wearing Tefillin should lean on his left hand (Sefer Itur Yad pg. 23 quoting Shu"T Be'ur Moshe 2:3).


There is a Machlokes Rishonim whether Tachanun needs to be said while sitting down or not.  The Shulchan Aruch [131:2], based on Kabbalistic reasons, rules that one may only recite Tachanun while sitting.  The Poskim say that generally we say Tachanun while sitting, however, in a pressing situation one may rely on the other opinions.  For example, if the person standing behind you is still daveningShemoneh Esrei [and you are not permitted to sit down- see Shulchan Aruch 102:1] (Mishneh Berurah 131:10 & Aruch Hashulchan 131:5).


If someone is in a shul while the tzibbur is saying Tachanun, he is required to physically "fall down" although he does not need to say the actual text of Tachanun along with them.  This would apply whether he personally is davening with them or not (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 25:12).


If one whose custom is to recite Tachanun at Mincha, is davening with a minyan that does not say Tachanun, he too should not say Tachanun (Sefer Ishei Yisroel 25: ftnt. 46 quoting Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l).


One should not say Tachanun at night (Shulchan Aruch 131:3).  The Mishneh Berurah [131:17] explains this is referring to tzais hakochavim (nightfall), however, after shkeiyah (sunset), but before tzaitz, one may say Tachanun.  As an aside, the minhagYerushalayim is that Tachanun is not recited after shekiyah (Tefillah K'hilchasa 18: ftnt. 64).







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