Chazal state that Korach possessed a wealth of wisdom yet he fell down to the level of a שוטה a fool by arguing on Moshe and contesting his G-dly appointments of Ahron and Elitzafan as Kohen and Prince (Rashi Bamidbar 16,7). What caused Korach to lose his שכל and become a סכל a fool?
One answer we can say is his overwhelming wealth (Pesachim 119). When a person possesses so much wealth, the expression used as a warning to him is be careful that it doesn’t “go to your head”. What this means is that his grandeur enlarges one’s ego and he becomes haughty and arrogant. As the expression in Yiddish says the מאות (hundreds) has the דעות, opinions, even those opinions might be totally distorted from the truth. Money brings one to a position of power, making accessible to him the use of control, influence and manipulation of others. It can pollute one’s clear thinking and cause him to act and speak absurdly, and even cross accepted boundaries according to all.
This is hinted in the words of שכל and סכל. The difference between the two is 240 which is also the gematriah of רם high, and .עמלק Amalek saw himself as a powerful force and influence amongst the nations as he is described in the Torah as ראשית גויים עמלק. When the Yidden left Mitzrayim the entire world was restrained to attack Yisrael. The reason was because of the fear of Hashem’s retaliation on them just as He did to Mitzrayim. Amalek jumped in the “hot bath” of Yisrael for no purpose other than קרך, to cool Yisrael off in the eyes of the other nations who viewed Am Yisrael as untouchables. So too Korach lost his שכל to the point of being obsessed with chutzpah to contest the prophetic visions of Moshe. Korach the פקח had now become a סכל and שוטה.
A possession is called נכס. Chazal say אין אדם חוטא אלא שנכנס בו רוח שטות . A person does not sin unless there first enters within him a spirit of folly. The word כנס which means to gather and to enter share the same letters. This conveys to us that the drive to gather material possessions and derive pleasure from them, can cause the spirit ofשוטה and סכל to enter your שכל. The first state ofשכל” compromise” that leads to being aשוטה is not to toil and concentrate in one’s thinking process. On the passuk שטו העם ולקטו Rashi says like a טיול a walk without any עמל toil. For only if one thinks deeply with analysis, can a person bring life changes upon himself. Without toil, he remains with the lowest caliber of thought called “wishful thinking”. The second level in thinking deterioration is when one’s mind becomes distorted from thinking in the way of the truth. This is called שטות.
A proof that Korach’s intoxication with his rich possessions caused him to become a סכל can be gleaned from the fact that all his possessions were swallowed up with the opening of the earth together with him and all his cohorts. Why so? The Meforshim explain this with a dictum from Sanhedrin 54 that says if one lies with an animal, the punishment is that both he and the animal must be stoned. Why does the animal receive the same punishment as the sinner who has free choice? The gemarah answers that since it was nevertheless instrumental in the aveirah, it must also be punished. From the fact that in this G-d sent miracle all Korach’s possessions, even the tiniest needle was swallowed up with him, it is a clear indication that it played the instigator role in his rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu and must also perish like Korach.
When the Torah describes the wealth and possessions of Avraham Avinu (Bereishis 13,2) it says ואברהם כבד מאד במקנה בכסף ובזהב and Avraham was heavily laden with cattle silver and gold. One explanation is that Avraham felt a heavy load that he was so wealthy. Even though Hashem gave him the beracha of wealth it placed a tremendous responsibility on him that it should not influence him to become arrogant and controlling. The passuk is also hinting to the mitzvah of ואהבת את ה’ אלקיך בכל מאדך that one must love Hashem with all his money and possessions. This says that one’s wealth should not interfere or distract from his love relationship with Hashem. Here the Torah testifies that אברהם כבד מאד , he was כבד he honored the mitzvah of מאד that of בכל מאדך.
The Chazal also darshan on the wordמאד the meaning of מדה (Rashi). One must love Hashem with all his middos by subjecting them to fulfill the will of Hashem. This is true even though wealth can easily bring one to bad middos, he must nevertheless overcome his natural tendencies and don’t use his position of his wealth to promote and foster unbefitting behavior.
Noach and his family were the survivors the Mabul. Chazal tell us that the generation of the Flood had an incredible shefa of prosperity. This luxurious גשמיות propelled them to fulfill their lusts and physical cravings to the utmost. Instead of being the elevated Tzelem Elokim which gravitates Man to theשכל” rule” over the בשר flesh, השחית כל בשר את דרכו על הארץ they transformed their bodies intoכל בשר” ” that every aspect of their being even their שכל was for the purpose to “feed the flesh” (Babbeinu Bachya בשגם הוא בשר).
That is why Noach was saved from the גשם the Flood with a תבה whose measurements were 50 amos tall by 300 amos length and 30 amos wide. All these numbers are components of the word שכל. The letters of שכל are ש = 300, כל = 50, and ל which equals 30. Noach was saved because he was righteous and his שכל was in control of his גוף. Therefore he was spared by means of a תבה which proclaimed שכל. For it was his domination of his שכל over his גוף, that saved him and his family from the destruction of the rest of humanity.
The passuk says (Devraim 32,15)וישמן ישורון ויבעט even when Am Yisrael were on their highest level of ישורון from the word ישר, they became indulgent in the experiences of the flesh and body. The outcome of this was that their שכל became polluted thereby transforming it into an agent newly employed by the “other side” to create new pathways and innovations of increased physical pleasures. This of course turned them away from avodas Hashem ויטש אלה עשהו וינבל צור ישועתו.
Hinted in the word וישמן is the word שמן, oil, which symbolizes wisdom which comes from the נשמה. The letters of נשמה spell השמן, the ultimate lighting oil as found in the Menorah. When one pursues a life of flesh forfeiting his שכל which is his natural GPS of spirituality, he also forfeits his rationale and reason. The quick descent of morality in the United States over the last ten years is shocking. Every month a new horrific abnormality and decline of morality is introduced and unfortunately met with almost no resistance. The intelligence of Man has been so challenged and compromised by being enslaved to technology that there is no more shock over the appearance of a novel perversion that defies and uproots any semblance of moral life that older people of this generation still remember.
There used to be the Three Big M’s that had the power to fuel and run this country successfully and productively. They were Morals, Monotheism, and Money. The first two are crumbling and becoming extinct in front of our eyes. Money is the King and behind the scenes, it sends its tendrils to control and flaunt its audacious power, steamrolling anyone that objects or stands in its path. שמן על ראשך לא יחסר. Only with strengthening the G-d given wisdom which its source is neshama, can we fight against theוישמן which is erupting like a non – stop volcano spewing its lava everywhere.
The Pri Tzadik writes:
פרי צדיק (תולדות ט) ואף שלמה אמר בחכמתו בכל עת יהיו בגדיך לבנים ושמן על ראשך אל יחסר (קהלת ט ח). מרמז על תיקון גמור לצאת מהגופניות בתכלית השלימות מצד המעשה שהם מצד כחות הגוף ומצד המחשבה שבמוח. כי בגדיך מרמז על לבוש האדם שהוא הגוף כדכתיב עור ובשר תלבישני, כי האדם נקרא הנשמה והרוחניות שבו כמו שאמרו בזוהר הקדוש (ח”ב עו רע”א) דהגוף נקרא בשר אדם ולא אדם. וגוון הלובן הוא רומז להזדככות המעשים כמו שנאמר אם יהיו חטאיכם כשנים כשלג ילבינו ונאמר תכבסני ומשלג אלבין. ועניני הגוף הם המעשים, והיינו שיתקן המעשים שלו. ושמן על ראשך אל יחסר שמן מרמז על חכמה (מנחות פה ע”ב) והיינו לתקן המחשבה שבמוח שיהיה מופשט מכל וכל מעניני עולם הזה כמו שנוטה למות והולך לעולם הנשמות עכ”ל.
The super wealthy billionaires who behind the scenes are running and controlling the country, have already wielded their power with “lock downs” that have ruined people’s lives in so many ways. Their future goal is totally outrageous and that is to succeed and soon lockdown our minds as well. Illogical you might ask? Well today every move of theirs is illogical and goes against the moral fiber of people who still possess and use the special divine gift of moral discipline. When we stop feeling a shock reaction to the feelings of their violation of our rights then we are really in deep water.
קרח who shares the same letters of חקר (delve) the iyun analytical power of the שכל , channeled it into evil purposes such as to be argumentative against Moshe Rabbeinu with illogical reasoning (Rashi Bamidbar 16,1 Medrash Tanchumah). He abused and misused the wealth רכוש and power with which Hashem gifted him, and transformed him into a שכור an intoxicated individual who ranted like a שוטה (see Rashi Bamidbar 16,5). This could happen to anyone. Korach lost out big and became “bald” the Lashon Hakadosh equivalent of the word קרח (with the vowel of tzeireh). Not only from his position of Levi in the Mishkan, but he also became immediately bald from life for he was swallowed by the earth together with his acquisitions.
Don’t allow your רכוש to take control of your moral decisions. Remember who gives you everything you have every moment anew through your lifetime. Increase your kavanah and devotion in תפילה. It will help you understand your spiritual relationship with what you own. After all, the gematriah of תפילה (including the word) isרכוש . I think that says a lot how to fulfill the mitzvah of ואהבת את ה’ אלקיך בכל מאדך .
The difference between גשם gashmiyus and שכל is seven. Number seven symbolizes Shabbos the seventh day of the week. During the week we are associated with gashmiyus the materialistic world of Olam Hazeh. However, during Shabbos even the gashmiyus of Shabbos is done via the neshamah yesairah which elevates the physical to the spiritual. The Zohar writes that נח personified Shabbos since his name means rest מנוחה. Shabbos is compared to the תבה of Noach when one is surrounded by the measurements of שכל and Hashem closes the door ויסגור ה’ בעדו by giving the extra dose of neshama as a protection from the flood waters of gashmiyus of the outside world.
– Rav Brazil