Monday, August 31, 2015

485 - Pinchos

Bnei Yisrael's improper behavior in Shittim triggered a plague which claimed the lives of twenty- four thousand people. Immediately thereafter, Hashem requested that Moshe count Bnei Yisrael to determine how many people survived. Starting with the shevatim, the Torah goes on to list the various families. When enumerating the families of sheivet Reuvein, the Torah tells us that Dasan and Aviram were amongst Reuvein's progeny but they were not counted since they were swallowed alive along with Korach. Yet regarding Korach's children, the following pasuk informs us, "And the sons of Korach did not die" (Bamidbar 26:11). 

So what happened to Korach's sons? Rashi explains that although they were the ones who advised Korach to take his stance, nevertheless, they were spared from the terrible punishment which was meted out to their father, because when the quarrel began "thoughts of teshuva passed through their minds." It's amazing to think, says Rav Wolbe, that while Korach was swallowed alive and ended up in the depths of Gehinom, his sons were saved from such a death and they were given a special compartment in the heights of Gehinom. A single thought of teshuva had the ability to change their status for all of eternity. Moreover, Chazal (Megillah 14a, Sanhedrin 110a) tell us that they are sitting in "the highest heights" and singing songs [of Hashem's praise]. 

Indeed, the sons of Korach could have fared better. They could have done a proper teshuva and possibly been spared entirely. Yet, we have to appreciate what they did accomplish. Where do they stand and where does their father stand? They merited all this because of a simple solitary thought of teshuva: "We were wrong. We should have never argued with Moshe." Spirituality is a reality, and the effects of a good deed change the way the world is run. They should have perished alongside their father but their thoughts saved them. It is a lesson for us all. Even if things look bleak, a single thought of teshuva has the ability to change things forever. 

In the beginning of the parsha the Torah relates another scenario where a single positive action in a fleeting moment of a person's life had an enduring effect. Pinchos and his offspring were granted a covenant of eternal priesthood in reward for Pinchos's act of heroism. He saw what was transpiring and he took action. The Medrash tells us that he was not the only one who saw the sinful behavior that was taking place; everyone saw. However, he was the only one who took action. It was a single action and he received eternal reward. Moreover, his offspring for all generations benefited from this good deed. 

Every person has their moment. It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity and it might be an opportunity that presents itself frequently. We must seize that moment. When we hear something inspiring, it should arouse us to at least a thought of teshuva. The problem is that we are too busy to think and too busy to do. "I have other things on my mind" and "Someone else will take care of the spiritual deficiency in our community." It's true. We do have other things on our mind and someone else will take care of the issue. However, if you put your brains or brawn toward avodas Hashem, then even if the outcome is only a single thought or deed, it can tip the scale favorably for all of eternity!

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