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The Crown of Halacha

Korach 5777 – The Power of Free Choice

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Bamidbar 5777

Korach 5777 – The Power of Free Choice

“Aharon took (the ketores) as Moshe had spoken and ran to the midst of the congregation and behold, the plague had begun among the people. He placed the incense and provided atonement for the people. He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was checked. Those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand, seven hundred, aside from those who died because of the affair of Korach. Aharon returned to Moshe at the Ohel, and the plague had been checked.” (17:12-15)

A Dialog with the Angel of Destruction

As part of the retribution of Korach’s rebellion, Hashem sent an Angel of Destruction into the midst of Am Yisrael. Rashi (17:13) explains what happened next, “Aharon grabbed hold of the Angel and forced him to stand still. The Angel said, ‘Leave me to do what I was sent for.’ Aharon replied, ‘Moshe told me to stop you.’ The Angel replied, ‘I was sent by Hashem, you were sent by Moshe!’ Aharon responded, ‘Moshe does not speak anything of his own, every word is from the Creator! If you do not believe me, behold –The Kadosh Baruch Hu and Moshe are together in the Ohel Moed. Come with me and ask!’”

We see a remez of this dialogue from the pasukim. The first time it is written “and the plague was checked” is when Aharon Hakohen grabbed the Angel and stopped him. The second time it is written is when he was brought to the Ohel Moed.

An Angel Interrupted

Since an Angel does not have free choice, nor the permission to deviate from his mission, how could he debate with Aharon and allow himself to be led to Moshe? The simple answer is that the ketores rendered the Angel helpless. Still that does not explain why the Angel interrupted his task to argue with Aharon: apparently, the ketores was not enough to stop him completely, he still required persuasion to give up his mission.

A Man is Greater than an Angel

Chazal tells us that angels do not have free choice. In cases where it looks like they do, they really do not. It is an illusion in order to teach us something. In our parsha, we see that Moshe and Aaron have power over the Angel of Destruction. We learn that someone who sincerely does Hashem’s will can gain power even over Angels.

Free Choice Conquers Nature

But how does this work? How is it that even though we are both doing Hashem’s will, we are able to stop an Angel in his tracks? The answer is that we do His will out of free choice whereas an Angel has no choice and cannot ever deviate from his nature. We are different.  Through the power of free choice, we have the ability to change ourselves and change nature.  Being ma’avir on our middos, doing teshuva, and living mesirus nefesh for Torah elevates the world by turning chol to kadosh. This change of nature renders Angels powerless to act.

Unleashing Your “Free Will Power”

Each and every one of us has the gift of free choice and by definition, it gives us the ability to create or destroy. There is no such thing as a lost cause or a gezaira that cannot be broken. When we elevate ourselves then the Angel sent to exact punishment cannot find us. Furthermore, by learning Torah and doing mitzvahs we are actually creating good Angels who in turn are sent to repair the world we live in. Such is the awesome power of free choice!

Series Navigation<< Shelach 5777 – Are You a Man or a GrasshopperChukos 5777 – A Fool is Wise in His Own Eyes >>
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