Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Get a Life
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2019 10:58:02 PM
Number of views: 503

“Now Korach took upon himself (to mutiny against Moshe)…..along with ON ben Pelet…” ON ben Pelet also was a member of the Korach mutiny against Moshe. But then he completely and totally disappears from the scene. What happened to him? The Talmud in Sanhedrin relates that his wife talked him out of it and saved him from his mad folly.

The Talmud explains that the word “ON” is related to ONEN which means a mourner. The reason that he was called ON is because he spent the rest of his life in mourning over the tragic mistake of rebellion against Moshe that nearly cost him his life. But Korach’s sons were also part of their father’s mutiny against Moshe and they also did TESHUVA like ON. So why were they not also called ON for their act of TESHUVA and mourning? Was their remorse and shame for rebelling against Moshe different from that of ON?

My Rebbe Rav Pam explains that while both ON and the sons of Korach showed remorse and shame for their sin, the B’nei Korach acted upon their remorse. They resolved to change for the better. They did not remain in mourning, as ON did, feeling sorry for themselves but refusing to change in the future. Unlike ON, who could not shake his depression, the sons of Korach composed the most beautiful and inspiring chapters of Tehillim after their sin. They taught us how to turn a SIN into a WIN!

What an amazing idea! How many of us regret our sins, show remorse and shame, become depressed over our misdeeds, but do not progress from this point? We continuously berate ourselves for our past sins which keeps us depressed. Depression then becomes an end in itself, rather than being a part of the process of spiritual growth.

Remorse and shame are an essential part of Teshuva, BUT it does not comprise the sole contributing factor. One must proceed to triumph over remorse and shame and to overcome the feeling of depression for past sins. We must accept the challenge of spiritual growth and advancement in spite of our past sins. Korach’s sons were able to do this. But ON was too preoccupied with his sinful past to confront the possibility of change in the future. The Torah’s message to the sinner is to stop brooding and moping and GET A LIFE!

This idea is beautifully expressed in Bereshis 19:17 where the Angel who rescues LOT and his family tells them “In order to save your life, don’t keep looking behind you.” My Rebbe Rav Pam explains that we don’t need to know what the Angel told LOT 3700 years ago as he was escaping from Sodom. But the Torah is speaking to each and every one of us. We all sin but in order to save our souls we have to stop beating up on ourselves by constantly looking back on our sinful past. There comes a time when we must move on, onwards and upwards, and don’t look back.

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