The Torah portion of Korach
begins with the words וַיִּקַּ֣ח קֹרַח – “And Korach took” (Numbers 16:1
). The following verses go on to describe the uprising which Korach instigated against Moshe:
What did Korach Take?
It is not clear from the text as to what Korach took. There are many interpretations as to the meaning of this word. Here are some of them:
says that he took himself figuratively to the side, separating himself from the community to foment a rebellion. As support for this view Rashi quotes the Targum Onkelus who translates וַיִּקַּ֣ח as וְאִתְפְּלֵג – “he divided.” Since the meaning of the word קַּח is not “take,” Rashi explains that the Targum means that he took himself to the side to fight, thus forming a division.
says that sometimes the Torah uses the expression “take” to refer to a decision that one reaches. This expression connotes that the person’s understanding “took” him or “moved” him to come to a certain conclusion. There are several examples of the expression “take” where it refers to an intellectual understanding:
In Job 15:12
it says מַה יִּקָּחֲךָ לִבֶּךָ , which is translated to mean, “How your heart (understanding) has carried you away?”
In Proverbs 8:10
it says קְחוּ מוּסָרִי וְאַל כָּסֶף , which means “Take (or accept) rebuke and not money.”
Similarly, Jeremiah said (18:23) וּלְבִלְתִּי קַחַת מוּסָר, which means “and would not take (accept) rebuke.”
In this case, Korach’s intellect “took” him to the conclusion that he should rebel against Moshe.
The Ibn Ezra
says that Korach “took” people, i.e., convinced people (namely Datan, Aviram, On ben Peles, and the 250 tribal leaders) to be on his side. Similarly, the Seforno
says that Korach, Datan, Aviram, and On ben Peles took the 250 tribal leaders and convinced them to fight against Moshe. See the Abarbanel
for a slightly different interpretation.
The Talmud (Sanhedrin 109b
) says that by making this rebellion he “took a bad deal” for himself as it led to his shocking death.
The Targum Yonatan
says that Korach took a Tallit that was made completely of blue wool (techeilet) and used it to foment his rebellion against Moshe. As the Midrash (Tanchumah, Korach 2
) explains, he asked Moshe if such a Tallit needed tzitzit. When Moshe said that it does, Korach proceeded to make fun of his ruling and claim that the mitzvot were made up by Moshe and not by G-d since (in his view) this was illogical. He proceeded to make another 250 Tallitot of pure Techeilet and had the 250 tribal leaders wear these so that they also taunt Moshe in the manner mentioned above. (See Likutei Sichot 18:188 for the connection between the question of the Tzitzit and Korach’s other claims.
In connection with this interpretation, the rest of this article will discuss some of the segulot associated with the mitzvah of tzitzit as well as why women are exempt from this mitzvah.
The Power of Tzitzit
In last week’s article
we discussed how the mitzvah of Tzitzit assists us in the fulfillment of all of the mitzvot. In addition, the commentaries list many segulot associated with the proper fulfillment of this mitzvah. (See Me’asef Lechol Hamachanot 24:1 that all of the segulot associated with this mitzvah apply only when one fulfills it properly and with all of its details.)
One who fulfills the mitzvah of Tzitzit will merit to (Piskei Teshuvot 8:1):
- A wife and children (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Teitzei 61)
A segulah for a couple to have children is for the wife to sew the Tallit (Gadol or Katan) and for the husband to insert and knot the tzitzit into the corners (Sefer Kerem Chessed, parshat Shelach).
- Be saved from sin (Based on Menachot 44a)
- Be protected from demons and other negative forces (see Tikunie Zohar 18)
- Be protected from the evil eye (Chida in Devashe LeFi, Entry Tzadik)
- Receive the Shechinah – Divine Presence (O.C. 24:1 based on Menachot 43b)
Looking at the Tzitzit
In addition, looking at the Tzitzit is a tremendous segulah for many blessings. Among them are (Piskei Teshuvot 24:4):,
- To achieve Yirat Shamayim, fear of Heaven (Bait Aharon Karlin, Parshat Shelach)
- To be blessed with parnassah, earning a livelihood (Ta’amei HaMinhagim in the name of the Arizal)
- To be healed from illness (Otzar HaChayim in the name of the Chozeh of Lublin)
- To have a good memory (Chatam Sofer, Parshat Shelach)
- To have clarity of thought ((No’am Elimelech, Parshat Shelach)
- To be saved from sinful and lewd thoughts (See the end of the Sefer Shemirat HaLashon)
- To be saved from anger (Kav HaYashar chapter 85)
- To be saved from any matter that will decrease the honor of the Almighty (Hanhagot of the Benei Yissachar)
- To have additional holiness (Sha’arei Teshuvah of Rabbeinu Yonah 3:24) and assistance for one’s soul (Sha’ar HaKavanot, Derush 7)
Women Are Exempt
The Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes (17:1
“Women… are exempt from the mitzvah of Tzitzit. Even if they wear a four-cornered garment, they are not obligated to attach Tzitzit to it. The rationale is that the mitzvah of Tzitzit is a positive commandment whose observance is dependent on time, for there is no obligation to attach Tzitzit to a garment worn at night. And women and servants are exempt from any positive commandments whose observance is dependent on time.”
A Deeper Reason
This explains how we know that women are exempt from this mitzvah. But the question is, since the mitzvah of tzitzit is so significant in that it reminds us of all the mitzvot, how do women accomplish this without having this mitzvah? In addition, how can they achieve all of the segulot (mentioned above) associated with this mitzvah?
I have found only a few sources that discuss this question, so I invite my readers to please share any insights they may have on this topic. G-d willing, I can then pass it on to others.
From the Kabbalistic perspective of the Arizal, the mitzvah of Tzitzit is not relevant to women (Sha’ar HaKavanot, Derush 1 on Tzitzit). The Ben Ish Chai explains that women can generally perform time-bound mitzvot and receive “extra credit” for them. But since kabbalisticly the mitzvah of Tzitzit doesn’t relate to them, there is no point in fulfilling it even for extra credit (Rav Pa’alim, vol. 1, Sod Yesharim 12).
Accomplished by the Husband
According to the Arizal, when a husband fulfills a time-bound positive mitzvah, it is not necessary for his wife to do that mitzvah as she is included in his mitzvah, as the Talmud says, (Menachot 93b
) “One’s wife is like oneself.” In addition, the Zohar says (vol. 3, page 7b) that the husband and a wife are each like a half of a body. (See Likutei Sichot, vol. 31 page 96.)
Based on this, a woman receives all of the segulot and benefits of the mitzvah of Tzitzit if her husband fulfills this mitzvah. Certainly this is true if she encourages him and assists him in this mitzvah. It has been suggested that this is why a Kallah buys a Tallit for her Chattan (see last week’s article
) – to symbolize that they are sharing this mitzvah (Rabbi Binyamin Shneor in Kovetz Alei Ohr 25, page 58).
A woman who is not yet married also has a portion in this mitzvah, for her future husband is already considered the second half of her body since their souls are essentially one (see Zohar vol. 1 page 85b). As such, the mitzvot a man fulfills even before he gets married are shared with his future wife. Similarly, the mitzvot that are unique to women are shared by a wife with her husband and by a young lady with her future husband.
(I am not sure how this applies to a woman who never gets married. Perhaps it is fulfilled through a different reincarnation of her soul.)
It has also been suggested that, spiritually speaking, by fulfilling the mitzvah of wearing modest attire a woman achieves the same spiritual benefits that are associated with the mitzvah of Tzitzit (Kovetz Alei Ohr ibid).
When Moshiach Comes
The prophet tells us that when Moshiach comes, the moon will be as bright as the sun (see Isaiah 30:26
) and the night will be as bright as day. For this reason the commentaries say (yad Eliyahu by Rabbi Eliyahu Rogler, Letavim ot Tzadik), we will be obligated to wear Tzitzit at night as well (since the reason we are exempt at night is because we cannot see the Tzitzit in darkness), and this mitzvah will no longer be a time-bound mitzvah. As such, at that time women will be obligated to fulfill this mitzvah just as men are obligated today. This explains the Talmud that says (Bava Batra 74
b) that the wife of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa will string the Techeilet, blue wool, (this is part of the mitzvah of Tzitzit by Biblical law) for the tzaddikim in the Messianic era. This is in spite of the fact that some say a woman may not string the Tzitzit as she is not obligated to do this mitzvah (see Rosh, chapter 4 of Gittin, Siman 46)
. According to the above explanation, this teaching of the Talmud does not contradict that opinion as in the Messianic era women too will be obligated in this mitzvah.
May that Era Begin Very Shortly!
Wishing you a Chodesh Tov and a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!