Korach: Passive Parenting

My wife and I took 36 hours off from life.  We shipped off the kids to friends, rented a car, and did a tour of the North.  We went to the Lebanese border in Metullah, to Tel Dan (where water from the Hermon comes through), to Har Bental, located on the Syrian border in the Golan, around the Kinneret, and stayed overnight in Tevaria.  The next day, we went to the gravesites of several tzaddikim in Tevaria, Tzvas, and Meron, and then returned home.


It was very enjoyable and relaxing.  The best was probably Har Bental, which is a mountain located a kilometer away from the Syrian border.  There are two UN Observers stationed there.  As we got there, they were speaking to tourists in English about their job. Now my wife, to put it nicely, hates the UN with a passion, like anybody with a brain would.  But she REALLY hates them.  I mean REALLY. So, as they are explaining to the tourists that their job is to observe the demilitarized zone and report any offenses to the UN, my wife piped in (knowing the answers) and asked, “So, I assume you have Observers on the Syrian side, to check on their weaponry?”


“Well . . . not really . . . you know, with hostilities going on . . .”


“So, you’re basically saying that you only report on Israeli offenses, since you have nobody to check on the Syrians.”


“You have to understand, it’s up to the host country to provide our protection, and Syria can’t right now . . . .”


It was really good.  Nothing like getting the UN to openly admit to their one-sidedness.


Okay, on to Torah!


“And Korach son of Yitzar ben Kehas ben Levi took . . .” (Bamidbar 16:1).


Rashi explains that Korach’s lineage stops with Levi and does not continue with Yaakov, since Yaakov davened (regarding Shimon and Levi), “With their assembly let my honor not be united.”  So, Rav Shach asks, why did Yaakov daven for this?  Was he worried about his reputation?


To answer this question, Rav Shach brings the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah 3:2) who explains that a person’s judgment is determined by weighing his merits against his transgressions.  Nevertheless, only Hashem knows how to assign deeds their proper weight.  Therefore a person must be careful about every action, lest he be taken to task over some matter that he overlooked.


For example, says Rav Shach, a person might be punished for the Shabbos desecration of his grandson, for if he had done a better job educating his son, the latter might have been more successful in his own childrearing.  Thus, the grandfather might have been able to forestall generations of desecration.


I like to think of it as two types of parenting that a parent must engage in: active and passive.  Active, is doing what we call “parenting.”  Teaching, rewarding, punishing, etc. Passive parenting is just as important, if not more so.  It’s the example the parent sets in his own life to the child, without either one knowing it.  When a person is growth oriented, hopefully, his child will see that.


Two examples come to mind.


One is of somebody whose entire family grew up in the Conservative movement.  In fact, his father was one of the biggest rabbis there.  Slowly, but surely, the entire family, including the father became religious.  He ended up leaving a very well-paid job, and suffered quite some bit financially.  He explained it to his son once.  “I spent years making a lot of non-kosher money.  Now, I’m simply having to make it up.”  His son went on to tell me other stories of his father.  In fact, I never heard anybody speak so highly about his parents, than this individual.  Why?  Because he saw the greatness of how his father lived, and recognized that fact, and wanted to emulate it.


On the other hand (there has to be another hand), our morning minyan once was suffering from late-comers, which, in turn, delayed the minyan.  I once got up afterwards and asked people to come on time, and mentioned that it was not just a nice thing to do, but rather a matter of halacha.


Surprisingly, somebody, who knows enough and is old enough not to ask such a foolish thing, came up to me, and asked me for a source that one has to come to minyan on time (I’m still scratching my head on that).  I told him where he could look, and the next day, brought in copies of the commentaries on that Gemara.  He took it, thanked me, and to this day, continues to come late.  His sons, when they come for Shabbos from yeshiva, show up even later.


Yes, not everything could or should be blamed on parents.  Children have their own free will.  However, after 120 years, a parent will have to step up and honestly say, “I did my absolute best.”  The “absolute best” is not only referring to active parenting, but passive parenting as well.  If a parent goes to davening on time every day, for example, and teaches his children the importance of doing so, then if his child does not follow in his footsteps, then he’s not responsible.  However, if a father teaches his children the importance of going to davening on time, and doesn’t do so himself . . .


This is why Yaakov did not want his name associated with Korach.  It wasn’t a matter of active parenting, he wanted the world to know he did his best in both types.


Have a wonderful Shabbos!


Michael Winner