Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim Of PTI On Parsha Korach

Striving to Make Peace
Korach, Dasan and Aviram. Not exactly top tier names when a baby boy is born. Indeed, within the Chumash, these names are nothing short of synonymous with utter discord and defiance. In Sefer Bamidbar, we are introduced to many individuals and groups who act in extremely abhorrent ways, yet the Baalei Musar refer to Sefer Bamidbar as Sefer Hamidos, the Sefer that teaches us the proper rules of conduct.
We interact with people all day. Very often, we encounter individuals that we do not get along with. Yet, our lives are governed by the Torah, which demands a higher level of conduct, recognizing at each moment that all human beings are created in the image of Hashem.
The most enigmatic people in this week’s Parsha are surely Dasan and Aviram. They have a long history of causing trouble. Our first introduction to them is when Moshe encountered the pair in the midst of a quarrel. Moshe screams “Rasha, Lamah Sakeh as Rei’acha – Wicked man–why do you strike your friend?” (Shemos 2:13) Their response is even more shocking. “Hal’hargeini … Will you kill us like the Mitzri you murdered yesterday?” insinuating that they are going to report Moshe to the authorities. It is hard to imagine such a level of insolence. Moshe says, “Achen Noda Hadavar – Now the matter is known.” (Shemos 2:14) Rashi tells us Moshe was saying that he now knew why the Bnei Yisroel were in Galus – exile– since there were informers! And indeed, they did report Moshe to the authorities, causing Moshe to flee from Mitzrayim to Midyan to escape certain execution.
One would assume that this wicked duo perished during the plague of darkness when 4/5ths of the Jewish people who were not deserving of being taken out of Egypt died. Yet, much to our surprise, they survived. Why?
Rav Shimon Schwab explains the mystery. Because Dasan and Aviram believed in Hashem and stood at Har Sinai and said Na’aseh V’nishma- we will do and we will hear- they merited to be taken out of Mitzrayim. Nonetheless, they had a personal issue with Moshe Rabbeinu. They felt he was improperly usurping all the power, which should have been shared with others (including them, of course!). Rav Schwab suggests they were also angry with Moshe as a result of having been punished with poverty for informing on Moshe (Gemara Nedarim).
So here we have Dasan and Aviram, who have a personal vendetta against Moshe. Our normal inclination is to focus on the negative behaviors of Dasan and Aviram, so that when similar situations arise, we will know what conduct needs to be avoided.
However, doing this alone potentially has a great pitfall. Do you remember telling yourself that you definitely will not copy certain negative language or actions of your teachers and parents?  Yet, much to your surprise, you find yourself as an adult or parent doing and saying those exact things! Why is that?  Rav Wolbe zt”l tells us that when a challenging situation arises, most of the time, our brains cause us to react automatically based on past experiences, even if those experiences are negative. The only way to ensure a positive response is to affirmatively replace the bad reactions with the proper reactions. How? One excellent way is to watch talmidei chachamim; to be trained by their actions, rather than go on auto-pilot and be governed by negative experiences and environmental influences.
If we focus on how Moshe interacted with these instigators, we will be surprised to see the extent of how we are expected to treat and interact positively with those with whom we do not get along.
Despite the treachery of Dasan and Aviram in reporting Moshe to Pharoah and challenging his power, Moshe appointed them as Kri’ei Ha’ideh – leaders of assembly, who are seated in front at all public gatherings. Moshe, the leader of the Jewish people, also tried to dissuade them from taking part in the dispute regarding his power, even going to their tent.  Rashi tells us from here we learn that one needs to take positive action to put an end to any disagreement. Moshe did so even after Dasan and Aviram responded with unprecedented insolence, saying “even if you would poke out our eyes we will not come speak with you!” (Korach 16:14)
Moshe Rabbeinu is teaching us how one must treat the other party in a disagreement One must place his personal honor and pride aside and accord the other party honor and respect in trying to settle the dispute!
May Hashem help us train ourselves to act and treat all people with the honor they deserve and to learn from appropriate role models.
Practical Halacha: 
Halachos of Tzedakah – Maaser Part 4
by Rabbi Gershon West
Maggid Shiur
Maximum Amount of Tzedakah
Is there a maximum amount of money that one is permitted to give away each year to tzedakah? The Gemara in Kesubos[i] says Chazal stipulated one may not spend more than a fifth of one’s profits on tzedakah each year. The reason is because if one he exceeds this, he may then need to take tzedakah himself. Therefore, they made a takanah not to give away more than a chomesh to tzedakah.
The Rema in Shulchan Aruch[ii] brings this Halacha to not give away more than a chomesh of his profits to tzedakah.
Exceptions to the Chomesh Cap
Are there any exceptions to this rule? The Gemara in Kesubos[iii] tells the story of Mar Ukva. When Mar Ukva passed away, he left half of his assets for tzedakah. The Gemara explains that only during a person’s lifetime is he restricted to giving a chomesh. This is because he may give away so much tzedakah that he may need to take tzedakah himself. However, when a person passes away, there is no longer that issue. Therefore, Mar Ukva was permitted to give away more than a chomesh when he passed away.
Rema[iv] brings this Gemara and states the halacha that one may bequeath in his will as much money as he likes to tzedakah. This implies there are no limitations at all[v].

However, Rabbi Akiva Eiger[vi] quotes the Shiltos DeRav Achai Gaon that the gift to tzedakah at the time of one’s passing is limited to a third of one’s assets.  Apparently, the Rav Achai Gaon had a different girsah in the Gemara in Kesubos that said a third instead of a half.

Others[vii] state the halacha based on our girsah in the Gemara, which permits up to a half of one’s assets.
The Meiri[viii] writes that how much a person should give to tzedakah in his will depends on numerous factors.  How much did he miss the opportunity to give to tzedakah during his lifetime? How many assets does he have and how many children does he have who will inherit those assets? The amount he should leave to tzedakah depends on these questions. The Meiri seems to say that one may give as much tzedakah as one wishes, and he is not limited to a third or a half of his assets.[ix]

[i]דף נ ע”א.
[ii]סימן רמט ס”א.
[iii]כתובות דף סז ע”ב.
[iv]סימן רמט ס”א.
[v]עיין בפרי מגדים או”ח סימן תרנו ס”ק ב במ”ז.
[vi]בגליון השו”ע.
[vii]פרי מגדים או”ח סימן תרנו ס”ק ב במ”ז, וצוין ברעק”א.
[viii]כתובות סז ע”ב.
[ix]בדרך אמונה פ”ז ממתנ”ע ס”ק כו משמע דנקט דגם לפי המאירי השיעור הוא מחצה או שליש. אמנם עיין בשט”מ בדף נ ע”א בשם תר”י דמותר לבזבז כמה שירצה רק שישאיר קצת ליורשיו, עיי”ש.ועיין ערוה”ש סימן רמט ס”א וחכמ”א כלל קמד סי”ב.

Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim On Parsha Shelach

Learn Now.
Timely Torah Insights

by Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim

Associate Rosh Yeshiva
Truly Seeing What You See
While living in Eretz Yisroel, I was delayed many times due to a chefetz chashud – a suspicious package – but I never got to witness the procedure up close.  A friend of mine did.  The bomb squad pulled up in a special van. After the area was cordoned off, the back door of the van opened and a special robot was wheeled out.  The robot drove towards the suspicious package, pulled the package inside a cavity in its center and then detonated the package.  If this was a bomb, the explosion would have occurred inside the robot, thus shielding everyone around.  Baruch Hashem, the bag was not a bomb.  A half hour later, when the crowd disbursed, all that was left on the floor was the remains of a small pink school bag, which a little girl forgot at the bus stop on her way to school that morning.  (Better to err on the side of caution in these instances.)
When the meraglim -spies- which Moshe sent to scout out the land of Eretz Yisroel returned, they reported that “the land consumes its inhabitants.”  (13:32) To their credit, this report was based on real events they had witnessed. They saw that every town they entered was engaged in funeral processions and the townspeople were all distraught with grief.  So many people were dying. The meraglim came to the conclusion that the land itself must be deadly. Why else should there be so many deaths? (Gemara Sotah 35a) However, they failed to consider that these deaths were not caused by something inherent in Eretz Yisroel, but rather by the Hand of Hashem, Who arranged all these deaths to preoccupy the inhabitants with their losses, thereby keeping the meraglim undetected.
Harav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky zt”l (known as the Steipler) proves these deaths were uncommon from the fact that everyone was so distraught.  Had they been common, only the immediate families would be distraught.  So why did the spies not properly analyze what they were observing?
The answer is a pasuk we recite daily in the last paragraph of Shema.  “Do not stray after your heart and eyes” (15:39) There are two components in seeing.  The eyes physically view the image and then our brain processes the image.  Just how our brain interprets what it sees, depends on our hearts.  It seems the meraglim had ulterior motives.  They were all the heads of their tribes and knew they were going to lose their positions when the Bnei Yisroel moved into Eretz Yisroel.  This impending change in status predisposed them toward giving a negative report to prevent them from entering the land. Indeed, the Torah concludes with a warning that we not make the same mistake of explaining circumstances based on our own personal interests.
To see how an event can be viewed differently, in good faith, let’s look at a simple modern-day illustration: a policeman’s body camera.  The footage as shown from the body cam of the policeman shows him going toward someone standing in a parking lot looking suspicious. The policeman approaches closely and says, “Sir, what are you doing here?”  We then hear screaming and the view jostles violently for a few seconds. We next hear a thud and apparently the policeman is on the floor, as the view is now looking up.  We would naturally conclude the person attacked the policeman!
The same scene is then replayed from an outside camera, which shows the view of both the policeman and the individual. Again, the policeman approaches and says, “Sir, what are you doing here?”  We then see and hear a woman nearby screaming as her young child is about to step off the sidewalk into heavy traffic. The policeman turns to help and trips, landing on his back.   What a different story! The man did not attack the police officer. The view was jostling because the policeman tripped and fell!
It’s all in the eye of the beholder, who interprets that which he sees.
In fact, our human anatomy makes this all so clear! The image our eyes see is really upside down and the brain has to turn it right-side up. If our brain would not invert the image we see, we would literally see the world upside down.
So how do we know if we are interpreting what we see correctly? Rav Dessler points out that we are biased to our own self-interests.  However, our friend or neighbor viewing exactly what we see, can be objective when it doesn’t concern him.  As the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos implies, it’s crucial to have a Rav and a friend to keep us on the right path and help our eyes see that which is really there.

Rabbi Eli Gersten – Rabbinical Coordinator At The Orthodox Union – On Kashrus – Duchka D’Sakina- ‘The Pressure Of A Knife’

Although ordinarily heat is required to cause a transfer of ta’am from a food into a utensil or from a utensil into food, however one exception is in regards to a davar charif (a sharp or spicy food). If a spicy food is cut with a knife there will be a transfer of ta’am even thoug both the knife and the foods are cold. There are two Gemaras that explain extra stringencies that relate to cutting a davar charif with a knife.

The Gemara Chulin (111b) teaches that if a radish was cut with a fleishig knife, it may not be eaten with milk. But if a gourd was cut with a fleishig knife, one only needs to scrape away the edge where the cut was made. The Gemara explains the difference. A radish is a davar charif, so when it is cut with a knife it absorbs. However, a gourd is sweet. When one cuts a gourd, the only concern is the fat that was on the surface of the knife might wipe off on the gourd. Therefore, it is enough to scrape away the sides of the cut.

Why is the radish forbidden to be eaten with meat? The knife absorbed fleishig ta’am and that ta’am was then transferred to the radish. Isn’t this a standard case of nat bar nat? Rashi (Chulin 112a Kishus) offers two explainations as to why nat bar nat does not apply.

  • A knife is assumed to be greasy. The grease that is on the knife is absorbed into the radish.
  • Because a radish is a davar charif, it absorbs more taste. Therefore, it is considered like one nesinas ta’am.

Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 96:1) paskens l’chumra like both reasons of Rashi.

The Gemara (Avoda Zara 39a) teaches us another chumra that relates to davar charif. Ordinarily, an aino-ben-yomo utensil will not affect the kashrus of a food. Since the ta’am is pagum (bad tasting), it is always batel. However, the Gemara rules that if a chiltis (a certain extremely sharp vegetable) was cut with a non-kosher knife, even if the knife was aino ben yomo, the chiltis will become non-kosher. This is because the strong spicy taste of the chiltis has the ability to revive a ta’am pagum. While all agree that this halacha applies to a chiltis, Shulchan Aruch cites two opinions as to whether this halacha also applies to a radish, or other vegetables that are less spicy than a chiltis.

Rema (Y.D. 95:2 and 96:3) however paskens that even a radish has the ability to be mechalya l’shvach (to revive stale bliyos from an aino ben yomo). Shach (Y.D. 96:6) writes that the accepted ruling is to extend this halacha to all d’varim charifim (e.g. even onions).

It should therefore follow that if a milchig aino-ben-yomo knife was used to cut an onion and the onion was subsequently cooked with meat, the food should be assur even bidi’eved. However, the Beis Meir argues that the Rema was only machmir regarding radishes (or items that are more charif than a radish). However, regarding onions or items that are less charif, we could be maikel bidi’eved. This is because there are several doubts.

  • Perhaps only a radish is charif enough to prevent it from becoming a nat bar nat, but not an onion.
  • Perhaps only a chiltis is charif enough to be michalya l’shvach and not an onion.
  • It is uncommon to use a milchig knife with hot milchig foods (kli rishon). Rov tashmisho of such a knife is b’tzonen.

Since this case is a machlokes Shach and Beis Meir, one should only be lenient if it is a hefsed mirubah or there are other mitigating factors (see Darchei Teshuva 96:62).

How much of the radish becomes fleishig?

Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 96:1)  rules that if one cut a radish with a fleishig or a non-kosher knife, the bliya enters the radish the thickness of a k’dei netila. The Mishnah Berurah (462:25) writes that this is the thickness of one’s thumb (approx. one inch). Rema writes that lichatchila we are machmir that the bliya will spread b’kulo. However, bidieved if the piece was already cooked with other foods, then we are maikel to evaluate b’kdei netila.

How much ta’am is absorbed into the radish?

Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 120:6) rules that a non-kosher knife cannot be used to cut a davar charif, until it undergoes ne’itza. Ne’itza involves scraping the sides of the blade by pushing it into the ground ten times. This process is considered an affective method for kashering the outer k’dei klipa (thinnest layer) of the knife. After ne’itza the “non-kosher” knife may be used to cut a davar charif. Rebbi Akiva Eiger (96:8) initially suggests that since we only require kashering the outer layer of the knife, this should prove that a davar charif is only mavliya from the k’dei klipa of the knife. However, if so, Rebbi Akiva Eiger asks that since this is a tiny amount, it should be enough to just rinse off the piece. How can such a small bliya give ta’am into the entire k’dei netila? Yet we know that the knife gives ta’am into a k’dei netila of the food. This should prove that it is maflit from the entire thickness of the blade. Rebbi Akiva Eiger leaves this question unresolved. However, the Pri Migadim M.Z. (Y.D. 10:6) explains that the blade does indeed give ta’am from the entire thickness. Still ne’itza helps, since it is mivalbel (mixes around) the ta’am that remains in the knife and prevents it from exiting. Therefore, if ne’itza was done, the knife may be used to cut a davar charif. But if ne’itza was not done, then the entire thickness of the blade will be absorbed into the davar charif.

Although we see that the entire thickness of the blade gives ta’am, however the Pri Migadim M.Z. (Y.D. 94:12 ) writes that regarding duchka d’sakina on a davar charif, we do not need to be concerned with the section of the knife that did not cut through the radish. Although when food is cooked in a pot, we must cheshbon all the bliyos in the pot, even from the top of the pot that is not touching the food that is because we say cham miktzaso cham kulo (the entire pot is hot). Pri Migadim explains that this obviously does not apply to a cold knife. Although the pressure of the knife can combine with a davar charif to draw out a bliya, but that is only where there is pressure. It certainly does not warm up the blade and cause ta’am to emit from the part of the blade that was not used. Therefore, if only part of the blade cuts through a davar charif, we only need to cheshbon the bliya that was in that part of the blade.

This is why Shulchan Aruch writes that the amount of bliya in the radish cannot be more than the volume of the part of the blade that came in contact with the radish. So for example even if the blade is 8 inches long, but if only half the blade was used to cut the radish, only ta’am from 4 inches of the blade potentially entered the radish. Similarly, if the height of the blade is 3 inches, yet only two inches of the blade were needed to slice through the radish (i.e. the radish was only 2 inches tall and 1 inch of blade remains above the radish) then we only need to deal with the two inches of blade that actually cut through the radish. However, as noted above, we need to cheshbon the entire thickness of the blade. So if in this example, the blade was 1/8th of an inch thick, we would have 4*2*(1/8th) which equals one cubic inch of ta’am. Even if 20 radishes were cut with this knife, and cooked in a soup with meat, so long as there is 60 cubic inches among all the water, vegetables and meat in the pot, the dairy from the knife would be batel and the soup would be mutar. In this case, even the radishes may be eaten.

If one shaved a block of salt with a milchig knife, the salt is considered milchig. This is because salt is a davar charif and will draw out ta’am from the blade. Still, since only the edge of the blade is used to shave the salt, the amount of milchig bliya in the salt is very small. Therefore, the Maharsham (2:180) writes that if bidieved, the salt was used for melicha, we can assume that the bliya of milchigs was batel. See also Har Tzvi (Y.D. 90) who writes similarly.

Taken with permission from the OU’s Daf HaKashrus.