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A Dvar Torah for Perashat Korach: Numbers 16:1 - 18:32

Our Dvar Torah: Hitbodedut and the Vowels of Intention

A Dvar Torah for Perashat Korach: Numbers 16:1 - 18:32
and Likutey Moharan Book I Lesson #31

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © June 3, 2021

In Likutey Moharan lesson 31 Rebbe Nachman of Breslov develops a line of thought that is incredibly informative. This novel Torah insight lines up well with this week's Parsha Korach.

Many people can recite Torah and other sacred writings in flawless Hebrew! That's wonderful! And yet our Rebbe tells us that is not enough. He explains that “The letters, as long as they have no vowels, are meaningless hieroglyphics that resemble a body without a soul!”So too one who utters the words of Torah but does not understand what he is saying nor apply them to his life is devoid of true meaning.

“Why is this? Let's read a section from this teaching at Likutey Moharan lesson 31, beginning with subsection 6. I encourage you to prayerfully read this entire lesson this Shabbat to better understand its import. As always we are reading from Saba Odeser's three volume translation which is available at BreslovBooks.com.


As our Rebbe explains, consonants must be activated in order to achieve their goal. This is done by means of the vowels, or in Evrit, the nikudot. You doubt this? Try pronouncing a series consonants without adding vowel sounds. You can't do it. As is said, consonants without vowels are meaningless hieroglyphics.

In the same way, a person who earnestly studies Torah but fails to activate its teachings with action achieves nothing, or very little. This is true even if the person becomes a great scholar. For the Torah to mean anything it must be activated!

How does one activate Torah? Our Rebbe explains that the vowels or nikudot represent love (ahava) and desire (kisufin). Without love and positive kavanah (intention), motivated by kisufin or desire, knowledge is meaningless. Wishing that a hungry child should be well fed does not feed the child! The need can only be met by the action of providing food. Otherwise the child will starve, G-d forbid, despite our best wishes. And today our people, like the rest of the world, are starving as is clear to all the world, and to our collective shame!

In the same way those who wish to know (daat) the Beloved achieve success through the combined actions of Torah study AND Hitbodedut or private prayer. Attachment to HaShem (or devekut) and meditation (hagah) are BOTH crucial even as a bird requires two wings to fly.

Through the Torah HaShem's Will is revealed. Through Hitbodedut understanding His Will is achieved. As we each promised Him: “na’aseh v’nishma” (Exodus 24:7), we will do and understand. Just as consonants become actualized through the vowels of action our head knowledge must be activated. Just as words can bring forth both blessings and curses, so too we must wisely apply ourselves.

In our parsha Korach, Dathan and Abirim thought that because of their intelligence and human will power alone they were fit to lead the people and overthrow Moshe. Unlike Moshe Rabbeinu these rebels had no real kisufim or longing for HaShem. They had no real love for the people! They had no real emunah in HaShem.

Oh how the times repeat! A Midrash tells us that Rabbi Yehuda ben Baba foretold that: “The congregation of Korach will rise again in the future.” In this vein King David writes in the Book of Psalms that: ‘I went astray like a lost lamb; seek Your servant, for I did not forget Your commandments – Psalms 119:176.

KNOW that in the future, 'the lost David', which is to say, the righteous among our people will be restored and returned. At that time 'the congregation of Korach' will again rise against us as they opposed Moshe Rabbeinu but HaShem will be the righteous remnant of His people and all those who trust in their own strength and intelligence will be defeated for ever.

Ask yourself: Who is righteous? The one who knows more but does not act, or the one who knows less and yet acts on what is known? Friends, I encourage each of you to Be the Blessing YOU Were Created to Be AND Don't Let the Perfect Defeat the Good!

Shabbat Shalom.

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