Vertluch: Parshas Korach

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One of the respected associates of Korachs assemblage was Oin ben Peles who had sworn allegiance to Korach to wage war against Moshe Rabbeinu. However, in the end it was his wife who ultimately saved him. Gemara in Shanhedrin (109b) explains what she did. The Gemara says that the wife of Oin ben Peles saved him because she saw that he was getting involved in the rebellion of Korach. She told him, “What difference does it make to you? If Moshe is the leader, you will be his disciple and if Korach is the leader, you will be his disciple. Either way, your position in life will not change”.

But Oin ben Peles had already sworn allegiance to Korach, there was no way he could now remove himself. So his wife gave him alcoholic beverages to drink until he fell asleep. She then went outside the tent as the ‘mob’ passed by, and sat there with her hair uncovered and when the ‘mob’ approached their tent and saw her like that, they fled.

The question is it seems that she was very smart and sincere and she wanted to do the right thing for her husband. She scolded him for choosing sides and begged him to follow whoever was already chosen as their leader and not to get involved in the fighting. Why was it necessary for her to sit outside of her home with her hair uncovered? She knew they were coming to get him and she could have easily sat indoors at the entrance to the tent. As soon as they would have entered the house they would’ve noticed her and immediately have left. Perhaps sitting outside could have maximized her exposure and it most definitely would’ve been more tzniyusdik for her to be indoors. What seems to be pshat here?

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt”l offers an answer.

Oin’s wife understood that there were people who go out to certain places and these places may have an atmosphere that encouraged certain types of behavior. When one is in ‘vacation mode’ they may not necessarily conduct themselves the way they would at home. They may even know it’s inappropriate but will blame it on their surroundings. However, when a person enters his own house there isn’t supposed to be anything negative that he is exposed to. You create the environment in your home and you set the tone for what’s acceptable and unacceptable in the home, as you create the aura of your home.

Oin’s wife understood that in her home she had to act differently. She may have even been right but if there was some sort of element of controversy then she didn’t want it in her home. Even if it’s questionable; you don’t bring it into your home. One cannot allow the environment in their home to be tainted. A person has to be extremely careful what they bring into their home, what they do in their home, and how they act in their home because that sets the tone for what happens in the home. What she was doing may have been correct and necessary but it wasn’t proper; it was questionable. She therefore proclaimed ‘let me keep the sanctity of my home, pure’.

Rambam writes in one of his letters that one of the decrees that the Greeks implemented in the times of the Chashmonaim were that every religious person remove the front door of their home. What difference did it make if the house had a door or not? The answer is that they were telling us that our home and the outside street are one. Allow what’s in your home to flow outside and vice versa; they were trying to take away our safe haven.

Each one of us knows exactly what we do and if it’s appropriate or not, and not just in our own homes; on vacations, in the office or at social functions. Sometimes things are questionable and one is uncertain if it belongs in the home or not.

Remember, similar to Oin’s wife, if it’s questionable it remains outside. The one thing no one can ever take away from us is what goes on inside our home and how we behave there. It’s up to us to keep it on an elevated level.