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Back in 1996, Rabbi Finman was asked to speak to the niece of one of his students. After spending many hours answering her questions, the woman gave Rabbi Finman her e-mail address. Rabbi Finman wrote the woman a note and included in it a short insight into that week's Parsha and a short Chasidic story.

Realizing that this was something no one was yet doing,, Rabbi Finman sent the missive to his mailing list of about 30 people. Requests from recipients friends came pouring in. The next week Rabbi Finman sent the e-Parsha to 100 people. Within a year more than 2000 people were receiving it. Today, more than 14,000 receive the e-Parsha weekly and the requests keep coming in.

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YouParsha Korach https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYCVwPNZr9k Throw Away That Iniquity


This week we read the Parsha of Korach, Numbers 16 - 18. In this Parsha, Moshe's first cousin, Korach, leads a rebellion against Moshe, challenging him for the right to be High Priest, an honor bestowed upon Moshe's brother, Aharon. Korach maintained that Aharon's choice as High Priest was a pure act of nepotism. He felt that if the merit system would have been employed, he, Korach, would easily merit the job. The choice for dueling with Aharon was to burn incense before Hashem. The accepted incense would be an indication as to whom the Almighty really wanted to be High Priest. The question: Why incense? Why not sacrifice a bull as Eliyahu the Prophet chose to compete with the prophets of the Baal? Why not just enter into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur and see which walked out alive (A person unworthy of being High Priest would die instantly in the Holy of Holies)?

The Hebrew word for incense is ketores. It is related to the word kittar, connected. The purpose of the incense was to create the greatest possible connection between G'd and the Jewish people. The most important facet of incense is the smoke created by burning it. The smoke created a "pleasant smell before the Almighty." Our sages tell us that smoke is nothing. If a piece of cheese sits next to a garlic salami and picks up the smell of the salami, it is still kosher as smell is nothing. The connection made by the burning of incense was beyond tangibility. A korbon, or sacrifice, brings a person close to Hashem. The incense brought him there.

Other differences between sacrifices and incense is that sacrifices were offered on the outer altar, made of stone, while incense was offered on the inner gold altar. Sacrifices were brought from kosher, unblemished animals, incense was a mixture of 11 ingredients, one that smelled bad and one was made from the blood of a non-kosher animal.

The outer Altar represents the external aspects of the heart. A person can arouse the natural love and fear of Hashem through meditating, using their intellect. The inner aspect of the heart, the quintessential connection is only reached through will and desire which are greater expressions of self than is intellect. Animals, and specifically the fat and blood of the animals, were offered on the outer altar. They represent an elevation of physical pleasures (fat makes everything taste good, just ask a person on a low fat diet). There is nothing more physical than stones. Hence, the outer altar was made of stone. Gold is analogous to the great, intense love expressed from the very recesses of the heart. The incense process is considered the final purification process. Sacrifices represent the tzadikim, the righteous, everything must be perfect for a proper sacrifice. Incense represent the bal tshuva. It starts out on the wrong foot, (bad smelling, unkosher ingredients) and is elevated to a level higher than that of the tzadik.

Korach realized that the only true way to prove the High Priesthood would be through incense. Sacrifices are only preparatory. Incense is the final purification.


Gary Torgow, a prominent Detroit businessman and community activist, had been contacted by a friend. The friend was experiencing business problems and wanted to go to Israel to get a brocha from a Rebbe or pray at a holy place. "Where was the best place to go?" he inquired. Gary called Rabbi Moshe Woolfson, mashgiach at the renowned Yeshiva, Torah Vodaas, who passed away last week at age 99.

When he heard Gary's question, he suggested that Gary's friend go to the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Woolfson explained that his son had been to Israel and asked a Rebbe there, "What will be with Lubavitch?" The Rebbe responded that the Ohel (grave) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe is the portal to prayer. There is no better place to pray. When Gary heard this, he himself got on a plane, davened at the Rebbe's Ohel and came right back.

The Rebbe's yahrtzeit is Tammuz 3, this year July 9. It is a very auspicious time to pray at the Rebbe's grave. It is best to go there, but if that is not possible, a letter can be e-mailed to ohel@ohelchabad.org.


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