Korach 5775 – To Be a Giver

“ויקח קרח” – And Korach took

A lot of ink has been poured trying to explain the reasoning that led to this rebellion. What we must realize is that we are midgets in comparison to the people of that era, but nevertheless the Torah quotes these incidents because there is a lesson that even people on our level can take from these events.

Korach took – in life we need to be givers. The root of the rebellion was Korach’s desire for power. He felt that he was a legitimate candidate for leadership and it was not given to him. Ultimately he was trying to take something for himself, rather than finding his niche where he could contribute.

A human being by definition is born as a taker. We rely on our parents for nourishment, clothing and all our necessities throughout our childhood.

Our job in this world is to emulate Hashem, as the Posuk says והלכת בדרכיו. Hashem is a giver, Hashem never takes anything from anyone nor is the reason we fulfill his commandments to give to Him. That too is only for our good because Hashem is constantly only giving.

Likewise, we need to be givers – not takers. I recently heard that in the Cleveland Clinic, the staff is not called doctors or nurses; rather they are referred to as caregivers. While we can only hope that this is the true case in the Cleveland Clinic, the message behind this title is powerful; in order to truly help someone else you must be a giver.

The Posuk in Bereishis says על כן יעזוב איש את אביו ואת אמו. The Kli Yakar explains that of course the Torah is not instructing us to abandon or forsake our parents, who gave us all we needed while we lived by them. Rather, the Torah is instructing us to leave and abandon the habits we had while living the single life under our parents’ roof – being takers.

When one gets married there is a radical shift that needs to occur – to change from being a taker to becoming a giver. A person must change his thinking to “I want to give to my spouse, my child, my friend, my neighbor and all members of Klal Yisroel”. We were born as takers but our job is to become givers just like Hashem.

So how does one go about this change and what actions can help us bring about our transformation from inborn takers to givers?

The first thing is that a person should start giving even if his heart is not with him in the act of giving. The Sefer HaChinuch tells us that if one trains himself to be a giver, even if it’s only an outwardly motion, the actions of giving will eventually penetrate his heart and transform him into a natural and happy giver. We should always be on the lookout for opportunities to be a giver. Whether it’s by giving charity to the person knocking at our door, or by giving praise to Hashem, we need to be givers.

The second way involves deeper thinking but it will also help us internalize the importance of being givers and thus facilitate our giving. The Yerushalmi in Nedarim, explains the Torah prohibition of holding a grudge or taking revenge with a simple example. If a person’s right arm accidently hurt his left hand, it is inconceivable that the left hand will seek revenge on the right arm. A person is one unit and no part or member of that unit can possibly hold a grudge or seek revenge against another part or member of that same unit.

Klal Yisroel is also one big unit. We all originate from the same source, and the many bodies that host the many parts of Neshama are in reality akin to the right arm and left hand of a person’s body – they are one unit. This, the Yerushalmi explains, is the reason why it is forbidden to hold a grudge or seek revenge against someone – we are ALL one unit.  We must understand that by holding a grudge or seeking revenge against another member of Klal Yisroel, we are really holding a grudge or seeking revenge against a part of ourselves, and that of course is unacceptable.

If we were to internalize this message of the oneness of the entire Klal Yisroel, we would also understand that by giving to another member of the community, we are in reality giving to ourselves. When we help out the beggar at the door, the friend in Shul or the neighbor down the block, we are helping our unit of Klal Yisroel. The internalization of this reality should be a catalyst for us to become true givers in every way possible.

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