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And Moshe Saw - In Honor of 3 Tamuz 5775

Wednesday, 6 July, 2016 - 3:21 pm

From Weekly Email, Korach 5775 - Gimmel Tamuz Yartzeit of the Rebbe

Most of this was written while hunched over my iPhone at the edge of bench in a crowded marquee near the Rebbe's Ohel Friday before Shabbos

Doomed by a Self-diagnosed Prophecy 

Korach, a learned and prominent cousin of Moshe, rebels against Moshe’s leadership and choices of appointments in the sanctuary-including that of his brother Aaron as high priest. Korach brings along in his rebellion 250 prominent members of the tribe of Reuven and some other known rabble-rousers. 

This becomes more than just grumbling about nepotism—it turns into a dangerous, full-blown challenge against Moshe’s credibility as reliable conveyer of G-d’s word, regarding more than just appointments (which eventually leads into Divine, unnatural retribution for the rebels and their families--Korach swallowed up by the earth, and the others by fire). 

Moshe throughout the mutiny goes to extreme lengths to try and talk sense into them, make peace, and allow them to graciously back down. He offers a test to the 250 men: there is one service, the incense, that only one person may bring. Let them all offer the incense, together with Aaron, and “the man whom G-d will choose is the holy one.” Simply put, one man will remain standing and all others will perish (as indeed transpired). 

Rashi, the famous pre-medieval Torah commentator, comments, from the Midrash: What did Korach, who was a clever (and righteous) man, see in this whole foolishness? How could he not know that the end wouldn’t be good? 

Korach was a prophet of sorts. He saw the future, and acted upon it—but he misinterpreted what he saw. Korach saw that a great line would stem from him. He foresaw Shmuel the prophet, who was compared to Moshe and Aaron. He foresaw 24 units of Levites, all prophesying with divine inspiration. All this greatness will stem from me and I should be quiet? If only one person will survive for sure it will be me! 

Korach was right – this greatness was going to stem from him. But what he didn’t see is that the greatness would all come directly through his sons, who did teshuva at the last minute and pulled out of the rebellion (fascinating story how they were saved). He saw but didn’t see well. 

But, Rashi concludes, U’ Moshe Hoyo Roeh. Moshe saw. He knew what Korach didn’t, that the glory was destined to come from the children. 

And Moshe Saw – The interpreter makes all the difference 

These words seem extra: Why is it important to know that Moshe saw? Moshe knew he was acting directly on divine command, appointing exactly who he was told to appoint. Moshe knew that Aaron was meant to be the high-priest. So why is it important that he also had the same prophecy as Korach and also knew how to interpret it correctly? It’s hard to imagine that Moshe would have done anything different even if he didn’t see. 

One answer that came to me that I feel is directly related to the idea of a Rebbe, and the day we are marking this weekend: 

And Moshe saw. 

A leader, a Moshe, sees. Rashi is teaching us an important moral of the whole story that applies to us in every generation. 

According to the Torah we have to use our mind and hearts and all the resources we have been blessed with to try and do what is right in the eyes of G-d, as revealed to us in the Torah and our holy teachers and commentators authentic to its teachings. 

But we are not left alone, to have to navigate in the dark. We have a Moshe, in every generation, who helps make sure we know what we are seeing, that we make sense of it all and follow the right path. That we emphasize the right things, that we keep secondary things secondary and the primary thing primary. That we understand how to best approach the specific challenges and opportunities of each generation. That we don’t use our cleverness or emotions to justify approaches to life that go counter to what is good and healthy, productive and moral, Jewish and G-dly – even if it may seem like its coming from a good place, or even a personal vision or prophecy. 

A Moshe, who is humbly dedicated to the Torah and it’s precepts in the fullest way with no personal interest or motivation. And, especially, a Rebbe-Moshe, who lives his entire physical life on an entirely different plane, unhampered by personal materialistic desires, pleasures, or goals, infused with selflessness, holiness, fearlessness, and humbleness, a Moshe who cares and gives his whole life for the people—Moshe sees. 

When he speaks we can be comfortable to know that we are doing the right thing. We don’t have to worry that we are seeing distortedly. There is clear direction and purely objective, prophetic vision. 

And Moshe saw – and shared.

We were given the tremendous merit to have such a Moshe in our times. Post-holocaust Judaism and the challenges of secularism and assimilation, the age of modernity and rapid-speed advancements in technology, progressive thought and philosophy, personal freedom and rights, Israel in the face of oppression, and the list goes on--we merited to have the clear guidance through thousands of letters, talks, personal interactions--so many of which are available in English at and the learning section on

Whether it be how to reach and care for another individual - the simple power of love and harmony -or the power of one moment, of one additional mitzvah, of one person to make global change. Or how to harness technology for advancement of good, utilize the freedoms of a free society to stand up for what’s right, to stand firm on important principles of Judaism and G-d-given morality for America and all of mankind, to increase Jewish pride and unabashed self-identity and observance, to disseminate Torah in all languages--not to mention the phenomenal Jewish scholarship, depth, light and inspiration he brought to so many topics in Torah. 

There is so much more to write but my point is this: 

A Moshe's main life on earth is in the spiritual and this continues without interruption. 

And Moshe saw. And he still sees. And helps others see too. 

Here I come to pray. To be re-inspired. To get clarity. For physical needs or spiritual ones. 
People come to cry, people come to rejoice. But people come because they know that praying here to G-d, and asking the Rebbe to pray on our behalf--as the head of our one body of so many disparate but united parts of a whole--is the straightest way. 

There is more I want to say but I'll end with this parable I just heard from my Australian fifth-grade teacher that I met this week here in NY: 

Imagine young children in a car, traveling on a long and monotonous stretch highway. They can't read the signs yet, and the scenery doesn't change. After hours of driving the parent--who can read the signs exclaims happily: we're almost there. The kids don't get it - everything looks the same to them, how do you know we are any closer? Because the signs say so--and the driver can read the signs. 

And Moshe saw. The Rebbe saw and shared with us that Moshiach is coming imminently. All the signs say so. And even though we can't read as well as he, we don't and shouldn't take it on faith alone--we can read and recognize what he pointed out, the tremendous changes in the world for the good (another article for that :), the many signs discussed in our tradition. 

Let us take the commitment to open our eyes and live our lives on a plane a little higher then before, and ready ourselves for the coming of Moshiach, by doing more acts of kindness, morality, Jewish ritual; by speaking and even thinking better, kinder, in a more elevated refined way. 

And then, we will see and perceive a new world of peace, harmony, abundance, and G-dliness. 

Blessing and success and a good Shabbos to you and yours,  

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