Divrei Torah from Shaya Gross z'l
[Editor’s note: As a memory of my beloved brother Shaya, I would like to continue
sending out his pearls of wisdom that he has shared with all of you in the past. For some
of you this may ring a bell and for others it may appear to be totally new. May the learning
of Shaya’s Divrei Torah inspire us to change our ways and thereby give an Aliya to the
neshama of our dear beloved Shaya whom we miss so much.] The views and opinions
expressed in this article are those solely of its author(s).
Two of the greatest sins Klal Yisroel committed in the desert were creating the Golden
Calf and Korach's dispute. When Moshe rebuked them in Parshas Devarim, he hinted at
each sin by naming a place. 'וחצרות' refers to the dispute of Korach that is related in our
Parsha. The next words 'ודי זהב' refer to the sin of the Golden Calf. We know that the sin
of the Golden Calf was before the dispute of Korach. So why did Moshe switch around the
chronological order of events?
I saw a novel answer in the name of Rav Yosef of Puzna.
Chazal say that even if Klal Yisroel worships idols, as long as we stand united, Hashem
forgives us. R' Yosef therefore suggests, that since Klal Yisroel was united before the
dispute of Korach, Hashem forgave us for the sin of the Golden Calf. Hence, there was no
need for Moshe to rebuke us for it. It was only after the dispute of Korach, which brought
discord into Klal Yisroel, did we retroactively have to be punished for the Golden Calf.
Therefore, Moshe initially rebuked the sin of Korach, and only afterwards the sin of the
We see from the aforementioned Chazal how terrible argument, fights and disputes are.
They tear people apart, be it neighbors, friends, business partners, siblings, or spouses. It
is a lose-lose situation, and the effects are horrific and long lasting.
However the opposite, i.e. having peace, unity, and being Mevateir [giving in], are beautiful
Midos to acquire, and are tremendously rewarding both in this world and in the world to
Here's one story I heard from Rav Frand that illustrates this idea.
In Yeshivas Ponovez, there was a Chazan for the Yamim Noraim that was aging and could
no longer be heard by the Tzibbur, unless they turned off the air conditioning in the
sweltering Bnei Brak heat. The Tzibbur asked him to give up his position. He argued that it
had been his position for more than thirty years and he had the right to this privilege. They
went to Rav Shach, and both sides explained their reasonings. Rav Shach said, 'you are
both right'. And then he turned to the Chazan and said 'I'm an old man, and I have NEVER
seen in my life a person lose out by being mevateir'. The Chazan got the message and
gave up the position. Rav Frand said that he heard from reliable sources that that man had
five children, each one struggling with a particular issue, and within that year all the
problems were solved!
Let us all strengthen ourselves by learning from Korach's mistake to distance ourselves
from Machlokes, even when we think (and know!) we are right. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz
explains that only Korach's dispute with Moshe was one side 100 percent wrong and one
side 100 percent right. But every other dispute in history after that will never be like that, i.
e that both sides are partly to blame.
May we all do some soul searching to make sure we aren't at odds with anyone else. And
if there is anyone that we avoid or don't talk to, let us gather the strength to make up. We
will then G-d willing merit all the wonderful blessings that come when one is at peace with
Editor: Baruch Leib Gross
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