July 25, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 25, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Making Sure That Your Actions Are Based on Your Yetzer HaTov

Last week’s presidential debate to help decide who would be the best leader for America reminded me of Parshas Korach. Two esteemed individuals with dissimilar views vying for power. Korach openly challenged the leadership of Moshe, as well as Aharon’s position as Kohen Gadol.

The events in Parshas Korach, like the actions of the meraglim (spies) in the previous parsha, provide examples of how the Torah teaches us hard lessons. Here, it’s how to discern if an action is deriving from a good source… or a bad one; the yetzer hatov (good inclination), or the yetzer hara (bad inclination).

Rav Dessler says it’s simple to discern the source. Anytime we hear a voice inside us saying, “I want…,” it’s the yetzer hara talking; the yetzer hara’s voice is one that seeks to take over. The yetzer hatov has a different voice. It’s saying, “You should…” or “You should not…”

Parshas Korach is a deep dive into the human psyche, exploring the origins of our actions. Korach came with a claim, “Kol ha’eidah kulam kedoshim—The entire nation is holy. Hashem rests inside each Jew, so why are you (Moshe and Aharon) taking leadership over the nation of Hashem?” Korach offered some proofs of the correctness of his approach. He came before Moshe with a four-cornered garment made entirely of techeiles (a blue color specified for one strand of each grouping of tzitzis) and asked, “Does this garment require tzitzis with techeiles?” Moshe responded, “Yes,” prompting Korach to mock Moshe: “Why would a garment entirely fashioned from techeiles require techeiles strings?”

Korach also asked Moshe, “Does a house full of seforim need a mezuzah?” Moshe replied affirmatively. Korach again scoffed, saying, “The purpose of a mezuzah is to remind a person of Hashem. A house full of seforim certainly reminds one of Hashem, so why the need for a mezuzah?” Korach presented these two issues to prove his point: The entire Jewish nation is holy; why the need for a leader?

The problem is that there was a basic hypocrisy in Korach’s argument. His claim that no leader was needed contradicts Korach’s blatant desire to be the leader himself, and to have someone other than Aharon become the Kohen Gadol. Rav Hirsch points out that the 250 people who joined Korach were leaders in their own right.

The part of Korach’s claim that every Jew is holy was correct. So, what was wrong with his claim that a leader wasn’t necessary? The Izbetzer Rebbe says that although Korach was correct that every Jew is holy, he was wrong in questioning Moshe’s special role as leader. Moshe was appointed by Hashem; he served the nation in his leadership role and did not lord it over them.

All those who joined Korach’s rebellion also felt that they were slighted in not being appointed to the Kehunah. Dasan, Aviram and On ben Peles were from the tribe of Reuven. Reuven was the firstborn of Yaakov and was originally supposed to be a Kohen, but the Kehunah was taken away from Reuven by Yaakov (due to a negative action by Reuven) and given to the firstborn of the families of every tribe. After the sin of the Golden Calf, the Kehunah was taken from the firstborn and given to the tribe of Levi. The 250 leaders who joined Korach were a combination of the sons of Reuven and the firstborn of the families of other tribes, all of whom had their Kehunah removed from them and felt that it was done unjustly.

Why did Korach think he was deserving of leadership? Korach had a prophecy that he was going to have a descendant named Shmuel HaNavi, who the Gemara says was equal to Moshe and Aharon, as the pasuk says, “Moshe veAharon bechohanav, u’Shmuel bekorei shemo—Moshe and Aharon were among His priests, and Shmuel was among those who invoke His Name.” This convinced Korach that he was at least on an equal level with Moshe and Aharon and was deserving of leadership. Rav Wolbe explains that the Torah is clearly demonstrating the deep psyche of a person and what can cause a person’s actions.

Everyone has their hot buttons, such as jealousy, lust or honor. External situations can awaken these bad traits. However, in order for a good person to act on a bad trait, the Yetzer HaRa masks the bad trait as being for “a good cause.”

How do we know if our driving force is based on a bad trait? A simple method is to take counsel from an impartial person, preferably a rebbe, but also a family member or friend, and ask for their advice. An impartial trusted outsider is not driven by emotion and can see the situation objectively and guide us properly.

Getting da’as Torah, direction from a Torah authority, is a priceless investment to keep us on the right path in achieving the worthwhile goals in our lives.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch, where he leads a multi-level Gemara learning program. PTI has attracted adult Jews of all ages from all over northern New Jersey for its learning programs. Fees are not charged, but contributions are always welcome. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles