This past Thursday I commemorated the yahrtzeit of my father, Harav Yitzchak Aryeh Scheinerman z”l.
I learned many lessons from my father, both in terms of his relationships with his talmidim and all those he came in contact with. At one point, I recall my father being in a place where there was a large machlokes, argument, brewing. Many in the vicinity were stuck picking sides and trying to point to the person they felt was right. My father made it very clear from the onset that he had nothing to do with the machlokes. He refused to get involved and as the machlokes finally settled, both parties looked to my father as their best friend.
This week’s parshah describes the destructive power of machlokes that was ultimately decided by none other than Hashem Himself, as the ground opened its mouth and swallowed Korach and his followers.
Rabbi Yissocher Frand describes the danger of machlokes. Korach challenged the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu. He charged that Moshe was seeking personal honor. This is the most ludicrous charge that one could have leveled against Moshe Rabbeinu. Of all things, who could call the humble Moshe a seeker of honor? Just two parshios ago, the pasuk said: “For the man Moshe was the humblest man on the face of the earth.” (Bamidbar 12:3) Moshe had an amazing array of positive attributes. He was the master rabbi of the Jewish people. He was the master teacher. He was the master prophet. He had so many positive traits. But of all these traits, the one attribute the Torah singles out to praise Moshe was the fact that he was the most modest person to ever live. Humility was his greatest trait!
Now, if one wants to mount a rebellion against a leader and wants to be a rabble-rouser and incite the crowd against their leader, logic will dictate that one should seek out a character weakness of the leader and make an issue about it. No one is perfect. What would be a logical “complaint” against Moshe Rabbeinu? Let Korach complain that Moshe Rabbeinu was not a good speaker. We often hear that about rabbis – “He’s not a good speaker.” Certainly, there are other complaints they could have come up with. But the most ridiculous thing to complain about was to say that Moshe was an honor seeker! That is patently ludicrous.
The Talmud teaches about the nature of human beings and offers insight into Korach’s behavior (Kiddushin 70a). Kol haposel, b’mumo posel. When a person invalidates another, he invalidates him with his own shortcoming. A person who labels everyone as a slave or a mamzer must be suspected of having that very blemish in his own lineage.
Modern psychology has termed this behavior “projection.” Someone who always goes around complaining about a specific characteristic of other people most likely has that shortcoming himself. What Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than about Paul. L’havdil, what Korach says about Moshe says more about Korach than it does about Moshe.
This explains why, of all things, Korach chose the ludicrous charge that Moshe was an honor seeker. It is precisely because it was Korach himself who was seeking honor that he projected this personality fault onto his leader.
Rabbi Frand is sharing a profound insight into the psychology of man. Often, when we involve ourselves in arguments, we do so due to our personal shortcomings. In any school there will always be challenges and shortcomings, but it is important to focus as much as possible on the positive.
I want to take this opportunity to thank our teachers and staff for all that they do for the sake of their students and our children. I am always amazed at the tremendous degree of commitment and dedication that they give to the school on an ongoing basis. I extend our best wishes to them and to my colleagues on the administrative team for a wonderful and successful summer.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman