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D’var Torah: Parashat Korach

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Who turned On off? At the beginning of Parashat Korach, On, the son of Peleth is presented to us as being one of the key agitators who supported Korach in his rebellion against Moshe and Aharon.

But as the story unfolds, On’s name doesn’t appear again. What happened to him? The Midrash explains, that On came home to his tent, reported to his wife his intentions to join Korach, and she gave him a piece of her mind. “It is going to be disastrous,” she said, “And in addition to that, you won’t get any personal gain.” He was convinced by her words. However, he said “I am a man of my word, I gave my commitment to them so therefore tomorrow morning I am going to present myself to Korach, and I’m going to support him.”

In order to protect him, she gave him something strong to drink. As a result he didn’t wake up that morning. She and her married daughter then uncovered their hair, sat at their entrance to their tent. When Korach’s emissaries came round the camp in order to summon his followers to join them, they didn’t come close because they saw the women there in that state. And On carried on sleeping. He woke up later that morning to discover, that the calamitous rebellion was already over.

Here we find, a strong connection between the previous Parasha of Shelach Lecha and this week’s Parasha of Korach. It is all about influence. In Shelach Lecha we saw the extent of the potential influence that the spies would have over Joshua and over the people. In Korach we see, how those who lived close to Korach, were influenced by his words and his charisma. And we discover the positive influence that On’s Wife had over him.

The Torah wants us to know, that with regard to influence, we should always choose wisely. We should choose where we live, who our friends are – and most importantly of all, who our spouse will be – with wisdom. Not everybody is lucky enough to be On, whose wife turned him off.

Shabbat Shalom