Friday, June 28, 2019

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Korach

       Parshas Korach tells the well-known story of the rebellion of Korach against Moshe Rabbeinu. His issue is simple, in a nation like Bnei Yisrael where each person had experienced holiness and was considered to be on a high spiritual level, he and his followers felt that why should only one person be Kohen Gadol and represent the nation spiritually like Aharon did (and his sons to a lesser extent). Korach’s assumption was flawed; the holiness of the nation didn’t necessarily translate into full access to every spiritual portal, places such as the Kodesh Hakedoshim remained off-limits to everyone. And there were other reasons why Aharon and his children were picked to be the representatives in the Mishkan and later the Beis Hamikdash. (We have discussed some of these reasons in previous years.) Ultimately, regardless of his arguments, Korach was not pure of heart in his arguments, and he and his followers were killed.
       The remainder of the parsha spends time establishing Aharon as the proper Kohen, and discussing some remaining laws of Kehunah. As part of this, Hashem reviews with Moshe some of the gifts that go to the Kohanim, such as the Bikkurim, the firstborn of all animals, as well as the standard Terumos from the produce of the fields.
       The purpose of reviewing all these ideas is to solidify the role the Kohanim play in Jewish society. The pasuk uses an interesting way to show the eternal nature of this role. “כֹּ֣ל | תְּרוּמֹ֣ת הַקֳּדָשִׁ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָרִ֥ימוּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֘ לַֽיהֹוָה֒ נָתַ֣תִּי לְךָ֗ וּלְבָנֶ֧יךָ וְלִבְנֹתֶ֛יךָ אִתְּךָ֖ לְחָק־עוֹלָ֑ם בְּרִית֩ מֶ֨לַח עוֹלָ֥ם הִוא֙“All the gifts of the holy which are set aside by the children of Yisrael for Hashem I have given to you and to your sons and daughters with you, as an eternal portion; it is like an eternal covenant of salt…” (Bamidbar 18:19).
       Let’s focus on the end of our quoted pasuk; Hashem calls the promise of these gifts an eternal bris. It becomes a treaty, a promise, between Hashem and the Kohanim (really the entire nation) that lasts eternally with no conditions or revocability. But then, He calls it a bris of salt. What does salt have to do with anything? While we do find a treaty with salt elsewhere in the Torah, that is an actual treaty with salt, that it should always be brought with every korban on the mizbe’ach. That is not the reference here.
       Every commentary in our pasuk believes this is not meant to refer to actual salt, but rather, the treaty is similar to salt. Salt is the ultimate preservative. Especially in times not too long ago where there was no refrigeration, salt was one of, if not the most important item you could have. It kept everything fresh and healthy, it never spoils. And perhaps most importantly for our parabolic purposes, salt sinks into whatever it is applied to, becoming a part of the food and enhancing it in a way that brings out and preserves its finest taste.
       So too is the relationship between Hashem and the Kohanim. While every Jew has direct access to Hashem if they choose to make use of it, the direct conduit in this world between man and God is the Kohen. He is the salt between us and Hashem; the one who preserves the freshness, keeps us healthy, and eventually brings out our greatest taste in order that our connection to Hashem remains as strong as ever.

Shabbat Shalom!

Click here for last year's Dvar Torah  & Podcast for Parshas Korach

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts)

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