Torah Weekly

For the week ending 25 June 2022 / 26 Sivan 5782

Parshat Korach

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Korach, Datan and Aviram, and 250 leaders of Israel rebel against the authority of Moshe and Aharon. The rebellion results in their being swallowed by the earth. Many resent their death and blame Moshe. G-d's "anger" is manifest by a plague that besets the nation, and many thousands perish. Moshe intercedes once again for the people. He instructs Aharon to atone for them and the plague stops. Then, G-d commands that staffs, each inscribed with the name of one of the tribes, be placed in the Mishkan. In the morning, the staff of Levi, bearing Aharon's name, sprouts, buds, blossoms and yields ripe almonds. This provides Divine confirmation that Levi's tribe is chosen for priesthood and verifies Aharon's position as Kohen Gadol, High Priest. The specific duties of the levi'im and kohanim are stated. The kohanim were not to be landowners, but were to receive their sustenance from the tithes and other mandated gifts brought by the people. Also taught in this week's Torah portion are the laws of the first fruits, redemption of the firstborn and various laws of offerings.


A Eulogy for Rabbi Uri Zohar, zatzal

“…as most holy it shall be yours (Aharon’s) and your sons” (18:9)

It is difficult for a non-Israeli to understand who Uri Zohar was, and the enormity of what he did. Uri Zohar was a combination of the leading actor of his generation, the leading film producer and the leading stage producer rolled up into one person. In 1976 he was awarded Israel’s highest civilian award, the Israel Prize for cinema, which he declined. In 2012, Cinémathèque Française in Paris held a retrospective of all his major films, where he was described as “one of Israel's most interesting film directors.”

The shock tremor that secular Israel felt when Uri Zohar became religiously observant was a mixture of disbelief and a sense of betrayal. His life-change was a beacon for many Israelis who followed his lead. Secular Israeli society never really forgave him. Even now, on the 10th of June, Haaretz, a leading left-wing Israeli newspaper, ran the following article: “Uri Zohar Didn't Die Now. He Passed in 1978, When He Began to Repent.”

“He (Moshe) said, (to Yitro), ‘Please do not leave us inasmuch as… you have been as eyes for us.’” (10:31)

In the Torah portion of Beha’alotcha, Yitro seeks to return to his home in Midian. Moshe doesn’t want to let him go. The reason? Yitro was “as eyes for us.” This is difficult to understand. Who had clearer sight into the workings of this world than Moshe, to whom Hashem spoke “mouth to mouth?” Who was more holy than Aharon? What could Yitro, the convert, contribute to the Jewish People in the desert, surrounded as they were by the Clouds of Glory, having the Shechina (Divine Presence) resting on them?

A person’s success in building himself comes in large part from the example and the encouragement of his teachers and mentors. The Jewish People had no better role models or teachers than Moshe, Aharon and the Seventy Elders, nor a more conducive environment for spirituality than the resting on them of the Divine Presence. But spiritual growth also needs the inspiration of someone who has taken hold of his own life, of his own destiny, and has shaped it with his own hands. Growth requires the inspiration of someone who has pulled himself out of a spiritual wasteland with the pure toil of the soul and with a burning desire for the truth to seek and become close to Hashem.

Such a man was Rabbi Uri Zohar, zatzal.

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