A Beautiful Interpretation

News on June 23rd, 2017 No Comments

Shalom aleichem!

“The parsha of Korach is beautifully interpreted in the Midrash of Rebbi Tanchuma.”

– Rashi’s first comment on this week’s parsha.

What am I supposed to make of that comment? Granted, in later comments, Rashi offers three explanations of what Korach did wrong in challenging Moses’ authority. Nevertheless, this stand-alone comment puzzles me.

Am I supposed to go look up the reference to Midrash Rebbi Tanchuma? And if it’s so important, couldn’t Rashi have just quoted the relevant portions, as he usually does? Furthermore, when Rashi quotes a Midrash, he often just says “Midrash” (as in a comment made a couple verses later), so why in this instance does he specifically tell me which Midrash?

And one last question: Why does Rashi tell me that the explanation in the Midrash is beautiful? If it indeed is beautiful, won’t I come to that conclusion on my own?

* * *
Korach never repented for his rebellion, and is considered a rasha(wicked person). Nevertheless, the entire parsha is named after him, for eternity. Why would the Torah memorialize a wicked person?

Korach wanted to be the Kohen Gadol (High Priest). In other words, he wanted to be on a higher spiritual level; that’s something that each and every one of us can emulate!

Not that he needs my accolade, but Rashi was beyond brilliant. Each and every comment of his is packed with meaning. Each word is pertinent.

Let’s take a look:

Beautifully interpreted:¬†Even though Korach’s actions were negative, Rashi suggests that they can be “interpreted” in a positive light. By focusing on the positive intent behind his actions, namely that he wanted to be on a higher spiritual level, we reveal the good within him. And not just good, but “beautiful.”

Midrash Rebbi Tanchuma: “Tanchuma” means consolation. Rashi is not telling me the specific source in order that I should go check the reference (although that is always a good thing), but in order to hint to me that there is a consolation to be found even within the actions of Korach.

The Torah thus memorializes the name of Korach in order to show me that even the darkest thing contains a beautiful light within. We can derive a life lesson even from Korach.

* * *
This Tuesday is Gimmel Tammuz, the 23rd yahrzeit of the Rebbe.

The Rebbe mastered the art of “beautifully interpreting.” No matter how bleak the situation, the Rebbe always found a way to reveal the inner light, offering a consolation to a generation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust.

The Rebbe inspired me, and so many others, to “beautifully interpret” every person we meet and every situation we encounter.

May we merit to join together in emulating the Rebbe in his Ahavas Yisroel (love of our fellow), which will in turn hasten the coming of Mashiach.

L’chaim and Shabbat Shalom!

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