|The Profundities of Torah: Korach: A Vital Gift|
|Written by HaRav Yochanan Zweig|
"This shall be yours from the most holy..." (18:9) Shlomo Hamelech states "sonei matanos yichyeh" - "one who rebuffs gifts will have life".1 A person who accepts handouts loses his sense of vitality, for he can only feel truly vital if he is completely self-supportive.
The Chasam Sofer asks the following question: If receiving gifts is unhealthy, why did Chazal establish as one of the primary mitzvos of Purim, Mishlo'ach Manos, gifting food items to one another? He answers that the obligation that each individual has, to give a gift, negates the ill effects of "sonei matanos yichyeh"2
One could argue that this would be true if these gifts created a reciprocal obligation; then the loss of vitality would be mitigated. However, since there is no obligation to give specifically to a person from whom we have received, why is receiving gifts on Purim a healthy practice?
In this week's parsha, as a repudiation to the aspersions cast by Korach upon Aharon's right to the Priesthood, the Torah details the twenty-four Priestly gifts that Bnei Yisroel are obligated to give the Kohein.3 The Torah does not define these gifts as "sachar" - "reward" for the Kohein's service, rather as "matanos" - "gifts". How can the Torah encourage giving gifts to the Kohein when Sholomo Hamelech attests to the unhealthy nature of this practice?
The Talmud teaches that although a man is required to give a woman an item of value as part of the marriage ceremony, it is possible for this transaction to be effectuated by the woman giving a valuable item to the man. This occurs when the intended husband is a distinguished person. The honor that she receives through his acceptance of her gift, although intangible, can be quantified as having value.4
The willingness to receive a gift occasionally benefits the giver to a greater extent than the recipient. The primary purpose of the twenty-four Priestly gifts is not as a method of supporting the Kohein. Rather, by giving these gifts, the Yisroel is able to connect to the Kohein. Therefore, the Kohein actually benefits the Yisroel by agreeing to accept his gift. This removes the stigma of "sonei matanos yichyeh".
Perhaps we can answer the Chasam Sofer's question in the same manner. The halacha of Mishlo'ach Manos is not to give gifts to those people with whom we already have healthy established relationships, but to those individuals with whom we wish to establish a stronger relationship. Consequently, the recipient's acceptance of the gift benefits the giver, for it signifies the willingness of the recipient to extend his hand in friendship.
1.Mishlei 15:27 2.Mipi Hashemua 3.18:9 4.Kiddushin 7a
Question of the Week:
There is a concept in Jewish Law that when Hashem punishes, the punishment reflects the sin. For example, as punishment for drowning the Jews' children, the Egyptians were drowned. How does the manner in which Korach's assembly was killed reflect quid pro quo?