Korach: The Lesson of the Techeles String
By Rabbi Yonah Burr
Rashi brings the Medrash that describes how Korach tried to disillusion the people; “he dressed them in garments completely dyed blue, and stood before Moshe. “tell us Moshe, does a blue garment require a string of techailes/ a wool string of tzitzes dyed blue?” Moshe replied that indeed it does. To which Korach scoffed, if one blue string can exempt a garment, surely a garment made entirely of blue should certainly be able to exempt itself! Let us try to understand a bit the significance of the blue string, and what Korach’s argument was.
The Gemara tells us that the blue string resembles the blue color of the sea; the sea in turn resembles the sky- the sky then resembles the mystical sapphire that makes up Hashem’s throne. Thus, through gazing at the tzizis, one can bring themselves to fear of heaven, and fulfillment of all the mitzvos.
At first glance, Korach’s reasoning seems well founded; if the string is enough to remind us of Hashem’s throne, wouldn’t an entire garment made of blue not require an additional reminder?
As we go through the parshiyos of Sefer Bamidbar, we can’t help but wonder how is it that after witnessing miracle after miracle the Jewish people still complain and show lack of faith? They saw so much, and everything was revealed to them, why couldn’t they bring themselves to put their complete trust in Hashem?
Rav Moshe Feinstein z”l offers a fascinating insight; precisely because the Jewish People were shown so many miracles outright, and were handed ‘emunah’ on a silver platter so to speak, they never really internalized the lessons, and never took ownership over the concept. They were shown what they were shown, and it remained something external and superficial.
When someone only understands something superficially, he cannot deduce one thing from another. So, for example, instead of learning from the miracles of the exodus that the all-powerful Hashem can likewise destroy the thirty one kings living in Eretz Yisroel, we only saw what we saw; Just because we saw He can deliver the daily Manna, how do we know he can fulfill our desire for meat? And so on.
In order to grow in Emunah, one must work on it and process it.
The mitzvah of Tzizis was specifically given that through contemplating the ‘one string’ one comes to the realization on his own that this represents the Throne of Glory. Gaze at the message of the one string, and deduce the rest yourself.
To just be satisfied with the entire garment being blue, again there is no process of deduction occurring, and the message is being handed over on a silver platter. This is the lesson of the string of techeiles, and this is our job in this world. Take the hints, and ‘grow’ it and internalize it.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!