There appears to be parallel themes and codes that run through three adjacent parshas of Korach, Chukas, and Balak. All of them “speak” about a mouth. In Parsha Korach we find the פי הארץ the mouth of the earth (16,30,32). In Parshas Chukas we find פי הבאר the mouth of the well the rock which was shut closed yet it was reopened when Moshe hit it with his staff. The third mouth is found in Parshas Balak, the פי האתון the mouth of the mule (22,28). All three mouths share in common that they were created during twilight of the seven days of creation as it states in Pirkei Avos 5,6.
Another fascinating fact that is present in all three parshiyos is found in their names. Each parsha’s name consists of three letters and they share the same letter that of the kuf but in a descending order. In the name Korach the letter kuf is found in the first of the three letters. In Chukas the letter kuf is positioned in the second letter of the name. In the parsha of Balak the letter kuf is fixed at the end of the name.
How are we to interpret these cryptic messages?
In the creation of man Hashem gathered earth and water and kneaded them like dough forming Adam’s body (Bereishis 2,6 Rashi). Afterwards as the Baal Hatanya writes, Hashem also gave into man two neshamos, one an animal soul and one that came directly from the breath of Hashem. The mission of man is to take his holy neshama and spread its light and kedusha throughout his body composed of earth and water and subdue his animal soul to the desire of his G-dly soul.
How is this mission achieved? Hashem blew within man a neshama thereby elevating him alone to the status of the highest catergoryמדבר a creation that speaks. As the Targum Onkelos says on the passuk that Hashem blew into man’s nostrils the soul of life and he became a נפש חיה a living creature which translates as a speaking spirit (Bereishis 2,7).
This connection of speech and neshamah reveal that it is the power of speech associated with the toiling of learning Torah and Tefillah, that serves as the conduit through which Man spreads his kedusha of his G-dly soul to both his body and animal soul. As the passuk says הקול קול יעקב (Bereishis 27,22) the two kols represent Torah and Tefillah which together control and subdue the body and its inclinations symbolized by the ידים ידי עשו the hands of Esav.
The letter ק stands for kedusha as stated in the gemarah Shabbos 104. The word פה which means mouth when spelled with both the inside and outer letters like this פי הה is gematriahק which equals 100. This also supports the idea that the power of speech enables Man to actually create a state of kedusha over the physical. Even the word קול reads ק – לו that the voice possess the power of kedusah. For instance when one sanctifies an object or animal to the Beis Hamikdash it immediately becomes holy to the point that if someone accidentally derives pleasure from it he must offer a Korban Me’eilah.
Let us look for a moment at Amalek who is the opposite dimension of Yisrael and whose prime ambition is to remove from Yisrael this kedusha created by these two kols. This is hinted in its name עמל – ק the toil to abolish the kuf of kedusha. When Yisrael weakens their study of Torah and Tefillah it allows Amalek to penetrate into our camp spreading tumah instead of kedusha.
This ambition of Amalek is hinted in the episode of King Arad who attacked Yisrael when Ahron passed away and the Clouds of Glory which initially appeared due to his merit disappeared (Bamidbar 21,1). Rashi explains that the King of Arad was really Amalek. An allusion to this is that ערד is gematria two times קול (including the two words). For it is is Amalek who seeks to eradicate kedusha from the world brought about by Torah and Tefillah.
Ahron possessed both these two Kolos of Torah and Tefillah. For concerning Torah the passuk says (Malachi 2,7) שפתי כהן ישמרו דעת ותורה יבקשו מפיהו. As far as Ahron’s power of Tefillah, the Kohen Gadol performed the avodah in the Mishkan which corresponds to tefillah. In last week’s parsha we find Ahron’s staff that miraculously blossomed and sprouted almonds. It is this power of tefillah that makes vegetation grow as we saw in Sefer Bereishis that no vegetation grew until man was created and davened for it to grow out from the earth (Bereishis 2,5 Rashi).
So when Ahron passed away there was an immediate weakening in our two Kolos both Torah and Tefillah creating a small window of opportunity for Amalek to attempt to completely uproot this kedusha from Yisrael.
Now we are ready to decipher the theme of “peh” in all the three adjacent parshiyos and the code of the descending “kuf”. As we explained, the mouth through the voices of Torah and Tefillah, can sanctify the three parts of man which oppose spirituality and which foster the pursuit of the physical instead.
The earth component of man is the easiest to undertake in this task and the first to be conquered and transformed into kedusha with the פה. The reason is because the earth from which Man was created was holy earth as it originated from under the mizbeiach of the Beis Hamikdash thereby giving man a built in atonement for sin (Bereishis 2,7, Rashi, Rambam Beis Habechira 2,1). For this reason the פי הארץ appears in the first of the trio of parshiyos and its letter kuf which symbolizes kedusha, is hinted by the first letter of קרח.
The second mouth in the trio symbolizes the holy speech from which comes the tikkun of the water component of the human body. This parallels the פי הבאר which corresponds to the second kuf of Parshas חקת . What makes this component of Adam more difficult to transform into kedusha that the first element of earth is because water has in it both potentials for taharah and tumah. The waters of Mikveh purify while on the contrary water can also enable defilement (such as making fruit susceptible to receiving tumah).
The third obstacle on the spiritual journey of sanctifying the body is the animal soul which desires to take over the Neshamah Elokis and be in charge of directing man to focus and satiate only on his bodily needs and pleasures. This is yet the hardest to transform into kedusha and this corresponds to the פי האתון the mouth of the mule. Therefore its kuf of kedusah is positioned in the last letter in the parsha name of בלק.
After the chait of Adam Harishon, sanctifying the human body became an almost impossible success story. However, Am Yisrael merited three Avos through whom this mission was made easier to achieve. We can say that our three Avos corresponded to the powers of “Peh” the tool to transform into kedusha the three forces of the body whose ambition is to overthrow the neshama.
All of our Avos used to the optimum degree the two kolos of Torah and Tefillah in order to infuse the body and all its limbs with kedusha. This can be seen from the fact that they were the ones who established the tefillos of morning noon and night for Klal Yisrael throughout the generations which corresponded to the avodah in the Beis Hamikdash (Berachos 26b) . In reference to Torah the gemarrah (Yuma 28b) says that all the Avos sat in a Yeshiva and learned Torah for they began the period of 2000 years of Torah in the world.
It was Avraham who symbolized the פי הארץ for through Torah and tefillah he sanctified the earth component of Man which formed his limbs. אברהם is gematriah 248 corresponding to the 248 mitzvos and their parallel to the human limbs. It was Avraham who said on himself that he was the epitome of dust (Bereishis 18,27). His dust was of a holy nature for Chazal relate that in his battle with the Four Kings his dust miraculously transformed into arrows and swords to defeat the powers of tumah (Yehsaya 41,2).
The gemarrah (Chulin 88b) states that because of Avraham’s statement of ואנכי עפר his children merited to the mitzvah of Sotah which was a modern day lie detector test to eradicate acts of immorality from Klal Yisrael. Only because of Avraham’s transformation of his earthly component to kedusha, he merited his generations with the gift to refrain from following their limbs which gravitate towards the fulfillment of bodily cravings.
Yitzchak symbolized the פי הבאר. As we explained above the פי הבאר was closed shut and by Moshe’s hitting of the rock the waters that were there poured out. So too Yitzhcak dug again the opening of the wells of Avraham that were blocked with earth stuffed inside by the Pilishtim.
Yaakov symbolized the פי האתון. On Yaakov the passuk writes (Bereishis 33,17) for his cattle he made Succos. From this passuk we derive that Yaakov symbolizes the Yom Tov of Succos yet the Succos in the passuk refers to the dwellings that he made for his animals? The answer is that Succos represents the tikkun of the animal soul bringing it under the realm of kedusha and the Shechinah which is symbolized by the Succah. This transformation of the animal soul is the most difficult of the three and for this reason its mouth is hinted last, paralleling the position of the kuf of kedusha at the end of the name of Balak.
An incredible allusion to this thought of the Avos elevating these three hindrances to kedusha by their Torah and Tefillah is found in the gematriah
אבות אברהם יצחק יעקב
פי ארץ באר ואתון – 1047
Once we rectify all three obstacles that block the ruler ship of the neshamah through our “mouths” of Torah and Tefillah, we will merit to the next parsha of פינחס a name that begins with an explicit פי . Chazal tell us that Pinchus is Eliyahu (Ylakut Shimoni Bamidbar 25). It will be Eliyahu Hanavi who will reveal the secrets found in the essence of the Torah Shebe’al Peh and answer all the difficult questions that we posed while learning (Pri Tzadik Chanukah 13).
Let us try to sanctify our mouths, to use our speech of Torah and Tefillah to subdue our taavos instead of intensifying them and herald in our geulah which is needed so badly.