(Numbers: 16:1-18:32)

(Haftara: Shmuel I, 11:14-12:22)

(Pirkay Avot Chapter 3)

1. [16:3] “All the people in the community are holy…” Rashi explains that “all the people” is referring to the whole nation, and this is the most common understanding of the story of Korach. Rabbenu Bachya, however, explains that this phrase is referring only to the first-born males. How is Rabbenu Bachya’s understanding of Korach’s motivation different from Rashi’s understanding? How is the whole story different according to Rabbenu Bachya?

2. [16:13] “Is it not enough that you brought us up from a land flowing with milk and honey…”   Did Dathan and Aviram really believe that Egypt is a land flowing with milk and honey? Why did they say this?

3. [Haftara: Shmuel I 12:3] “…whose ox have I taken; whose donkey have I taken; whom have I cheated…?” Shmuel is presenting his reliability as the religious leader to the people. Why does he mention his ethical behaviour rather than his prophecies or military success?

4. [Haftara: Shmuel I 12:17] “…your wickedness is great in asking for a king”. Why is wanting a king so bad? Why did God and Shmuel, nonetheless, appoint a king for the Israelites?

5. [Haftara: Shmuel I 12:11] “…God sent Yiftach and Shmuel and saved you…” Yiftach, a judge of Israel, was on a much lower moral level than Shmuel. Based on this pasuk, our tradition tells us that “Yiftach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation”. In other words, any religious authority should be respected in his generation, the way that greater authorities were respected in their generations. What are the positive and what are the negative aspects of this rule

Commentary

Whoever says that my soul is torn, has told the truth. Of course it’s torn. It is impossible to imagine in our minds, a person whose soul is not torn. Inanimate objects are whole, but man has within himself conflicting desires, and there is always an inner war. The whole spiritual work of man is to unite his torn soul

with a great, elevated and all-inclusive thought which brings everything to a state of harmony.

–Rabbi Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer