The Torah describes in vivid detail how Moshe reacted to the inflammatory words of Korach followed by Dasan and Aviram, and their pathetic attempt to usurp power and rebel against the word of Hashem. “Moshe was exceedingly angry, and he said to Hashem, ‘Do not accept their offering. I have not taken a donkey from a single one of them, and I have not harmed a single one of them.’”
Rashi explains that the words “Va’yichar l’Moshe” do not mean that he was angry, but that he was very distressed at the current state of affairs. Rabbi Reuven Margolis zt”l (S’dei Margolis) emphasizes that Moshe Rabbeinu was a mushlam – a complete and wholesome individual – whose righteousness and G-dliness was evident in everything he did, and thus, when a situation arose that would normally cause another person to become enraged, Moshe would never allow himself to fall to this level. Instead, he became “distressed” that another Jew could stoop to such nonsense.
It was said about the great Slonimer Rebbe, Rav Shalom Noach Barzovsky zt”l, the author of N’sivos Shalom, that he devoted his entire life to his yeshivah, his talmidim, and his chasidim. “However,” he was always careful to add, “although I give everything of myself, there is one thing that I will never sacrifice – and that is my midos. It is better that the yeshivah would be ravaged and decimated, as long as the bein adam l’chaveiro is not affected!”
The Nesivos Shalom did not just live this mentality for himself; he imparted a love of every fellow Jew to each and every talmid, chasid, and petitioner who came to see him. He would encourage his chasidim to look out for the welfare of other Yidden and always give them the benefit of the doubt – in every situation. On one occasion, a Slonimer chasid came to the Rebbe to inform him of his upcoming daughter’s wedding. “Rebbe,” said the man, “in honor of the chasunah, I feel I should be m’kabel (accept) a good deed upon myself on the day of the wedding. I am thinking that I should fast all day.”
Rav Shalom Noach patiently took his chasid’s hand and said, “Why must you fast? It will weaken you and not allow you to enjoy this special day. You may even become ill as a result. No, if you want to be m’kabel something upon yourself, do this: Work on the midah of bein adam l’chaveiro, and specifically on the day of the wedding, do not allow yourself to become upset at anyone who cannot or does not come to the wedding. This is a good midah to work on.”
The Rebbe smiled warmly at his chasid who immediately accepted upon himself this kabalah. Unbeknownst to him, a few weeks before the wedding, a major global event took place. The Gulf War broke out with an extensive aerial bombing attack on January 17, 1991. The Gulf War, also known as Operation Desert Storm, was a campaign of coalition countries led by the United States, in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of neighboring Kuwait. While Israel did not take part in the war from a military standpoint, the country was bombarded with SCUD missiles from Iraq after Saddam Hussein followed through on threats to target Israel if coalition forces invaded Iraq. The damage caused by the 39 Iraqi SCUD missiles that landed in Tel Aviv and Haifa was extensive. Approximately 3,300 apartments and other buildings were affected in the greater Tel Aviv area. Beyond the direct cost of damage to property, the Israeli economy was severely hurt by the inability of many Israelis to work or even venture outdoors under the emergency conditions. The economy functioned at no more than 75 percent of normal capacity during the war, resulting in a net loss to the country of $3.2 billion.
Under these extreme circumstances, the wedding of the Slonimer chasid’s daughter took place. Of course, the wedding took place during the day, under the constant threat of attack, with air-raid sirens going off at any time of day and night. Not surprisingly, very few guests showed up to the wedding. Many of the family’s relatives didn’t even come, and although at first, the chasid was disappointed at his many friends, relatives, and rabbanim whom he expected to partake in his simchah, he clearly recalled the kabalah he made at the behest of the Nesivos Shalom to not become agitated.
The chasid concluded, “In the days after the wedding, I received so many calls and excuses for why people did not come to the wedding. Baruch Hashem, I wasn’t upset in the slightest. But in all honesty, I must confess: Fasting would have been ten times easier than keeping this kabalah!”