Why Were the Children of Korach Saved?

Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Parshas Korach

“The children of Korach were in a dilemma. They were sitting with their father when Moshe and his entourage walked by. Who would not stand up for Moshe? On the other hand, they knew their father Korach’s feeling toward Moshe. They knew if they stood up for the leader of Klal Yisroel their father Korach would be shamed. They would be disloyal to their father. In their head, they heard Moshe’s own voice saying in the name of G-d, “Kabed es Avicho!” Honor your father! (Yalkut 4:2)

Can you feel the tension? Can you imagine the stress? No time for meetings or consultations. No time to look it up, no time to meditate. What should they do? What would you do?

Follow your heart! “At that moment their hearts screamed out, ‘Stand Up! The leader of the Jewish people is passing!’ Generations later King David commented (Tehilim 45): ‘Their hearts led them the right way.’

When your brain fails you and when your conscience confuses you, there is another way. Follow your heart! Your heart is probably telling the truth. When Pinchos stopped the plague attacking Israel, he was led by his heart. When Nachshon ben Aminodov walked into a sea, he followed his heart. When Jews through the generations gave up their lives rather than convert, they followed their heart. When communities returned to Israel during the time of Ezra, and again today, they followed their heart. Your heart tells the truth.

“I made man straight but he makes complicated calculations” (Tehilim). It’s great to think, to talk, to discuss, to opine and to criticize. But ultimately your heart says, ‘Do the right thing!’

I often think about crying. Babies always cry. Children cry easily. As we mature we don’t cry, and if we do we are embarrassed. We excuse ourselves for being emotional.

Yet Chazal attribute holiness to tears. We are taught that we should cry over the destruction of the Beis HaMikdosh, over innocent victims of terror, over the shame of Torah. We don’t cry over these things. We talk, we pray, we fast, we give money – but we don’t cry.

Sometimes our heart tells us to cry, but as our emotions travel through our cognitive system they are filtered by our brain. Feelings become opinions. Anguish becomes negativity, love becomes comfort. That is the way we are wired! But sometimes we can’t let our minds get in the way of our hearts. Sometimes we have to override our minds and feel. We can’t be made of stone! We need to be able to cry – and if we shed a tear, it comes straight from our heart and is holy.

So the children of Korach followed their heart. The Hebrew word for this is Teshuvah. Return to your heart!

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