By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
If you look in your Chumash, you will see that at the end of every parsha it tells you how many pesukim there are in the parsha. It then gives you a siman, a pneumonic device, to remember that number. At the end of Parshas Korach, it tells us there are ninety-five pesukim. It then gives us a very perplexing siman. It tells us, “Daniel,” for Daniel is ninety-five in gematria. This is mystifying since why would we choose to attach such a venerable and saintly man like Daniel to the likes of Korach who rebelled against Moshe and Ahron and who was so wicked that he was swallowed off the face of the earth.
R’ Dovid Feinstein, Shlit”a, was troubled by this question and he answers that Daniel is an anagram of Din K”eil, the Judgment of the Almighty, and this is very appropriate to Parshas Korach since we see the strict judgment of Hashem when the ground opened and swallowed Korach and all his cohorts, together with their families and even their infants.
While this is a fascinating answer, it would seem to me that then the siman should have been Din K”eil, and not Daniel. If you would ask me, I would have chosen another siman for Parshas Korach. I would have chosen the name Haman as the siman, for Haman is also ninety-five in gematria and additionally Korach and Haman certainly have a lot in common. Korach rebelled against the Gadol Hador, Moshe, while Haman rebelled against the Gadol Hador, Mordechai. Korach was tripped-up by pride, lusting for the Nesius of Elitzafan ben Uziel and the office of the Kohein Gadol itself, while Haman was consumed with rage because of his hurt pride when Mordechai didn’t bow down to him. Korach was prompted by his wife who told him, ‘Look at Moshe Rabbeinu who took the top spot for himself; he then gave the next spot to his brother, gave the deputy priest to his nephew, gave them the terumah. Even when he granted you the ma’aser, he made you give terumas ma’aser to the Kohanim and then he made the ultimate mockery of you by having you shave followed by and waving you like a puppet.’ So too, Zeresh incited Haman.
Furthermore, Korach was brought down by his wealth. The Medrash informs us people have impudence when they are very wealthy and Korach was fabulously wealthy. This was the same case with Haman who was one of the richest people to ever live. Indeed both Korach and Haman lost all their wealth. Korach’s was swallowed up together with him, while Haman’s was all given over to the new Prime Minister, Mordechai. Finally, both Korach and Haman died together with their families in one instance. Korach, while they were swallowed alive (except for his sons who did teshuva at the very last minute) and Haman and his ten sons were hung in an instant. That’s why we say the ten sons of Haman in one breath when reading Megillas Esther.
Perhaps the reason why they didn’t use Haman as a siman is because we say about Haman, “Yimach shemo v’zichro,” may his name and remembrance be blotted out. We wouldn’t use him as a siman because that would just perpetuate his memory. Perhaps we don’t use Haman as a siman because, as bad as Korach was, he wasn’t in the same league as Haman. He was a Talmid Chochom, he carried the Aron, and he never plotted to commit genocide against his people.
So why do we use Daniel as a siman? I would like to suggest the following answer. The question has been asked, why name a parsha after Korach? After all, he wasn’t a role model. He went against the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu and instigated terrible machlokes, one of the greatest poisons that a human can do. Why name a parsha after Korach? Would we name a yeshiva or a shul after him? In the Likutei Sichos there is a fascinating answer. There is something admirable that we can learn from Korach. What did he covet? A Lamborghini? A home in the Hamptons? A vacation on the Riviera? To become a partner in a prestigious law firm? No, he desired to become Kohein Gadol and the Kohein Gadol never goes to a ball game, doesn’t eat out in a restaurant, doesn’t go for a stroll in the park, and doesn’t hang out with friends. He can’t even contaminate himself by going to his own siblings’, child’s or parent’s funerals! He is totally davak to Hashem, dedicated to Hashem. Such spiritual ambition and aspirations for greatness are something that we can learn from and aim for and therefore we name a parsha after Korach. This brings us full circle. This is I believe why we do use Daniel as a siman. Daniel himself was the quintessential servant of Hashem – so much so that the name Daniel in Hebrew is an anagram ‘La’Ado-nai,’ to the Lord.
May we merit to always shteig to get better and better in spirituality and, in that merit, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
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