1 Posted by - June 19, 2014 - Bamidbar, Parsha


Parashat Korah
The beginning 

 of this week’s parasha lists the people that Korach convinced to join his battle against Moshe.  Datan, Aviram and On Ben Pelet. Our rabbis point out that On B.P. was not mentioned in the pesukim amongst those who were punished along with Korach. The Talmud in Sanhedrin tells us the rest of On’s story. (Sanhedrin 110a)

Rav said, On ben Pelet’s wife saved him. She said to him , what do you have to gain in this dispute? Either way, you will be a follower. If Korach wins, you will follow him. If Moshe wins you will be his follower. What exactly do you gain here? … With this, she was able to undo her husband’s scheme to go against Moshe, our leader. And, when King Solomon wrote in Mishlei חכמת נשים בנתה ביתה the wisdom of women built her house, he was referring to the wife of On.

This is more than puzzling. The main argument against Moshe was רב לכם ×›×™ כל העדה כלם קדשים ובתוכם ×”’ ומדוע תתנשאו על קהל ×”’ – “You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation is holy, and G-d is in their midst.  So, why do you raise yourselves above G-d’s community?” This claim was not dealt with by the wife of On. She did not undo this complaint. So, how exactly did she undo her husband’s drive? And, how did she deserve to be called a smart woman just for asking him what he has to gain?

The answer is that her wisdom was to see what was really bothering her husband. She knew that this claim was bogus, and it was more of a power struggle than anything else. She saw that this was not a fight for justice. Rather, honor was the underlying factor. So, she asked the right question. What honor do you gain? Your risk is great, and your gain is nil. She did not tell him , “I think you are making a mistake.”  Rather, she listened to and recognized the true motivation behind their stated complaints. Her wisdom was displayed here in two things. First, she did not tell her husband anything, preach to him or offer advice. She just asked him a very good question. Second, she knew the right question to ask. She made no mention of Moshe and the priestly presents, knowing that these had nothing to do with her husband’s underlying drive.

From this episode, we can learn two of the most powerful ways to help the people in our lives, the people that are closest to us. First, we have to listen well, extremely well, and notice what is the number one thing that is driving them in the wrong direction. And second, not offer advice too quickly. Giving advice doesn’t work anywhere near as effectively as thinking out the right question to get the person to come up with the answer on his/her own.

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