The Parsha this week is Parshas Korach. In Parshas Korach the Torah tells us of the terrible rebellion instigated by Korach against Moses. Korach was overcome with a burning desire to be the leader of the Jewish people. This desire overcame him so much so that he actually instigated a rebellion against Moses, challenging his authority. 250 great scholars, Judges of Jewish courts, backed him. This rebellion threatened to rip apart the Jewish people and leave them with no clear line of authority for right and wrong. Moses prayed to Hashem to give a clear and unmistakable sign that Korach was wrong. In an open miracle, Korach, his family, and his followers were swallowed alive into the ground. The Torah lays down a negative prohibition – “You shall not be like Korach and his congregation” (Numbers 17:5). One who involves himself or herself in an argument transgresses this prohibition.
The famed Chofetz Chaim, in his classic work Shmiras Haloshon, examines some of the ill effects of arguments. He quotes the famous words of Maimonides: “Prophets have said Prophecy, wise men have said wisdom, they have spoken at great length of the evil of arguments, yet they have not fully reached describing how bad it really is."
Our Sages tell us that there were three times in history when Hashem did not punish people even when they served idols, but punished them when they became embroiled in an argument.
Our Sages say: “If there is an argument in a house it will end up being destroyed; If there is an argument in a Synagogue it will end up falling apart; If there is an argument in a city there will be murder in the city; If there is peace down here in this world, there is peace in the Heavenly hosts above.”
Even if a person for whatever reason already got involved in an argument, he or she must do their best to remove themselves from it. In the argument of Korach there was a person named On ben Peles who was involved on Korach’s side. His wife convinced him to withdraw from the argument, and in the end his life was spared because he did so. We are encouraged to even accept disgrace in this world by staying out of or leaving an argument, and avoid eternal disgrace in the world to come. Even if the argument concerns a relative, one should leave the argument and stay away from it. The sons of Korach ended up saving their lives by leaving the argument that Moses had with their father.
We will close with the tremendously powerful words of our Sages regarding avoiding an argument: “Whoever remains quiet during an argument will merit to see the hidden light that no angel or creature could even imagine.” The Chofetz Chaim explains that people are always searching for something that will bring them special blessing. They will travel far and spend great sums of money to obtain a blessing from a righteous person. Here, the Chofetz Chaim points out, there is a special blessing that doesn’t cost any money; if we just stay away from arguments, the greatest pleasure and blessing are ours to keep.