One of the issues continually discussed by psychologists, educators, and others is the interplay between heredity and environment: Are our character traits inherent or acquired? To what extent do our neighbors and even the physical setting in which we are raised affect the way we conduct ourselves? And can that effect be even deeper and involve also our inner selves?

Obviously, these questions have no simple answer. In the sichah that follows, the Rebbe enables us to gain perspective on these issues by discussing different sources and viewpoints in our Torah heritage that touch on these concepts. He begins by citing Rashi’s commentary1 which notes that the camp of Reuven was located to the South, next to the descendants of Kehos; there Rashi comments,2 “Woe to the wicked person and woe to his neighbor.” Similarly, noting that the tribes of Yehudah, Yissachar, and Zevulun camped in the East, neighboring Moshe, Aharon, and his sons, Rashi comments,3 “It is good for the righteous and good for his neighbor.”

The Rebbe seeks to clarify the extent and nature of a neighbor’s influence by contrasting Rashi’s statements with the Midrashic passages in Bamidbar Rabbah4 and Midrash Tanchuma,5 on which they are based. By analyzing the textual differences between these sources, the Rebbe outlines three types of influence a neighbor can have:

• The first is primarily external, i.e., a righteous person or a sinner will draw his neighbor after him, but the influence will not permeate his inner being. For example, as mentioned in the above sources, many members of the tribe of Reuven were drawn after Korach. Since they camped near him, they took part in the dispute he fomented and, as a result, were also affected by the Divine retribution visited upon him.

• There is second conception that presents a more encompassing perspective regarding a neighbor’s influence. According to this view, a person can affect the manner in which his neighbor conducts himself and can even motivate a change within the neighbor’s internal being. Nevertheless, although the influence of the behaviors and traits that the neighbor imparts may be extensive, ultimately, they are merely acquired forms of conduct and/or characteristics. They are not inherent to the person being affected.

• A third conception assumes that the fact that two individuals or groups are neighbors indicates there is an intrinsic connection between them. They are neighbors because they live in a place associated with a given innate tendency. It’s true; one of the neighbors may exhibit the tendency to a greater degree than another, but over time the fact that one lives near the other will bring the other’s similar characteristics into the open, enabling that potential – whether positive or negative – to be actually expressed.

In his distinctive manner, the Rebbe also shows how the above concepts are reflected in halachah, citing three different approaches to dealing with a tzaraas blemish that appears on a common wall between two homes.

The Rebbe also connects the above concepts to the time of year when the present Torah portion is read, noting the inverse relationship between the two subjects mentioned above – the discord sparked by Korach and the Torah knowledge disseminated by Moshe, Aharon, and his sons.

The way to prevent discord is through involvement in Torah study. Conversely, to achieve greatness in Torah study and oneness with the Torah, we must separate ourselves from dispute to the furthest extreme.

Herein, lies a connection between Parshas Bamidbar and the festival of Shavuos, as reflected in our Sages’ statement:6Parshas Bamidbaris always read before Atzeres.”

Parshas Bamidbar emphasizes both these concepts – greatness in Torah study and the need to rise above dispute – and both are fundamental to our receiving the Torah, which we celebrate on Shavuos.

Undesirable Neighbors


Our Sages note that the flag of the camp of Reuven was located to the South,7 next to the descendants of Kehos who camped “on the southern flank of the Sanctuary,”8 and comment – “Woe to the wicked person and woe to his neighbor,” as Rashi quotes in his commentary on the latter verse.


אוֹדוֹת סְמִיכוּת "דֶּגֶל מַחֲנֵה רְאוּבֵן" (שֶׁחָנוּ "תֵּימָנָה"א ) לִבְנֵי קְהָת (שֶׁחָנוּ "עַל יֶרֶךְ הַמִּשְׁכָּן תֵּימָנָה"ב ) אָמְרוּ חַזַ"ל, וְהוּבָא בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י עַל הַתּוֹרָה, "אוֹי לָרָשָׁע וְאוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ".

We find this concept interpreted differently in several sources. Among them:

בְּפֵרוּשׁוֹ שֶׁל מַאֲמָר זֶה ("אוֹי לָרָשָׁע כו'") בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לְעִנְיָנֵנוּ מָצִינוּ כַּמָּה אוֹפַנִּים וּמֵהֶם:

Midrash Tanchuma9 states:

“To the South – the descendants of Kehos.” Bordering on them were the tribes of Reuven, Shimon, and Gad. About them, it can be said, “Woe to the wicked person and woe to his neighbor.”

[The camp of] these three tribes bordered on [the camp of] Korach and his company on the South. [Some of the members of these tribes] perished together with [Korach] in his dispute [with Moshe and Aharon], as it is written,10 “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their households, all that they owned, and all the people together with Korach and all [their] property.”

בְּתַנְחוּמָאג אִיתָא: "וּמִן הַדָּרוֹם בְּנֵי קְהָת וּסְמוּכִין לָהֶם רְאוּבֵן וְשִׁמְעוֹן וְגָד מִכַּאן אָמְרוּ אוֹי לָרָשָׁע וְאוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ אֵלּוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת הַשְּׁבָטִים שֶׁהָיוּ שְׁכֵנִים לְקֹרַח וַעֲדָתוֹ בַּדָּרוֹם אָבְדוּ עִמּוֹ בְּמַחְלְקוּתוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרד וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת פִּיהָ וַתִּבְלַע אוֹתָם וְאֶת בָּתֵּיהֶם וְאֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם וְאֵת כָּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר לְקֹרַח וְאֵת כָּל הָרְכוּשׁ".

Bamidbar Rabbah11 employs slightly different wording:

[Some members of] the three [tribes who camped] in the South near the inciters of the dispute perished with them, and concerning them, it can be said, “Woe to the wicked person and woe to his neighbor.”

Who were the inciters of the dispute? Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehos. Because they [camped] next to them, [the tribes of] Reuven, Shimon, and Gad were all [also considered] inciters of the dispute. This is reflected in the verse,12 “Korach, the son of Yitzhar… and… the descendants of Reuven.” Similarly, the descendants of Gad and Shimon were also inciters of dispute.

בְּבַמִּדְבָּר רַבָּהה : "ג' שֶׁל דָּרוֹם, שֶׁהָיוּ לְבַעֲלֵי מַחֲלֹקֶת סְמוּכִין, אָבְדוּ עִמָּהֶם וַעֲלֵיהֶם נֶאֱמַר אוֹי לָרָשָׁע אוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ וּמִי הָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי מַחֲלֹקֶת קֹרַח בֶּן יִצְהָר בֶּן קְהָת וּלְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ סְמוּכִים לָהֶם רְאוּבֵן וְשִׁמְעוֹן וְגָד הָיוּ כֻּלָּם בַּעֲלֵי מַחֲלֹקֶת שֶׁכֵּן הוּא אוֹמֵרו וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח בֶּן יִצְהָר וגו' וְכֵן בְּנֵי גָד וּבְנֵי שִׁמְעוֹן אַף הֵם הָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי מְרִיבָה".

On the verse,2 “the families of the descendants of Kehos will camp… on the southern flank…,” Rashi comments, “neighboring them was the flag of Reuven, who camped to the South. ‘Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor.’ Therefore, Dasan, Aviram,13 and 250 men from this camp were punished together with Korach and his company, because they were drawn into the dispute together with them.”14

וּבְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י עַל הַתּוֹרָה (עַל הַפָּסוּקב "מִשְׁפְּחוֹת בְּנֵי קְהָת יַחֲנוּ גו' תֵּימָנָה") כָּתַב: "וּסְמוּכִין לָהֶם דֶּגֶל רְאוּבֵן הַחוֹנִים תֵּימָנָה, אוֹי לָרָשָׁע וְאוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ, לְכָךְ לָקוּ מֵהֶם דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם וּמָאתַיִם וַחֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ עִם קֹרַח וַעֲדָתוֹ שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם"ז.

Selections from Likkutei Sichos (SIE)

Insights into the Weekly Parshah and festivals by the Lubavitcher Rebbe selected from the Likkutei Sichos series.

Among the differences between these interpretations: Midrash Tanchuma states merely that the members of the tribe of Reuven who engaged in the dispute were punished together with Korach: “They perished together with him in his dispute.”15 (For this reason, as support, it cites the prooftext – “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their households, all that they owned, and all the people together with Korach and all [their] property” – which speaks merely about their punishment.)

In his commentary, Rashi states that some members of these tribes “were stricken together with Korach and his company,” teaching not only that they were punished together with Korach, but also that “they were drawn into the dispute together with them,”16 i.e., the wicked ones also drew their neighbors into the actual transgression. (For this reason, Rashi omitted the prooftext cited by Midrash Tanchuma, “The earth opened its mouth…,”) because Korach’s influence on these individuals involved far more than the mere fact that they were punished together.

Bamidbar Rabbah goes a step further:17 There were members of the tribes of Reuven, Shimon, and Gad who were not merely drawn into the dispute by Korach, they “were all inciters of dispute…. they too were inciters of discord.”18

וּמֵהַחִלּוּקִים שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶם: בְּתַנְחוּמָא נֶאֱמַר רַק שֶׁנֶּעֶנְשׁוּ יַחַד – "אָבְדוּ עִמּוֹ בְּמַחְלְקוּתוֹ"ח (וְעַל זֶה מֵבִיא הָרְאָיָה מֵהַפָּסוּק "וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת פִּיהָ וַתִּבְלַע אוֹתָם וְאֶת בָּתֵּיהֶם וְאֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם וְאֵת כָּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר לְקֹרַח וְאֵת כָּל הָרְכוּשׁ", שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר רַק בְּהָעֹנֶשׁ); בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י מוֹסִיף "(לָקוּ מֵהֶם כו') שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם"ט, הַיְנוּ שֶׁהָ"רָשָׁע" מָשַׁךְ אֶת "שְׁכֵנוֹ" גַּם לְמַעֲשֵׂה הָעֲבֵרָה (וְלָכֵן הִשְׁמִיט הָרְאָיָה שֶׁבְּתַנְחוּמָא מִן הַכָּתוּב "וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת פִּיהָ גו'"); וּבְבַמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה מוֹסִיף עוֹד יוֹתֵרי, שֶׁ"הָיוּ כֻּלָּם בַּעֲלֵי מַחֲלֹקֶת . . אַף הֵם הָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי מְרִיבָה"יא.

Further Questions on Rashi’s Commentary


There are other points in Rashi’s commentary and questions regarding his divergence from his sources that require explanation. Among them:


גַּם יֵשׁ לְהָבִין כַּמָּה דִיּוּקִים וְשִׁנּוּיִים בִּלְשׁוֹן רַשִׁ"י:

a) Rashistates, “Neighboring them was the flag of Reuven, who camped to the South.” He – unlike Midrash Tanchuma and Bamidbar Rabbah – does not mention that this encampment also included the tribes of Shimon and Gad.

א) "וּסְמוּכִין לָהֶם דֶּגֶל רְאוּבֵן הַחוֹנִים תֵּימָנָה", וְלֹא פֵרֵט שֶׁבְּדֶגֶל זֶה כְּלוּלִים גַּם הַשְּׁבָטִים שִׁמְעוֹן וְגָד, כִּבְתַנְחוּמָא וּבַמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה.

On the surface, it appears that Rashi was precise in the wording he chose, stating, “the flag of Reuven,” and not “the flag of the camp of Reuven,” as stated in the verse,1 and as he states shortly thereafter in his commentary, “the flag of the camp of Yehudah.” This indicates that his words refer only to the tribe of Reuven and not the tribes who camped together with him.

[וְלִכְאוֹרָה, מַה שֶּׁדִּיֵּק רַשִׁ"י בִּלְשׁוֹנוֹ "דֶּגֶל רְאוּבֵן" – וְלֹא "דֶּגֶל מַחֲנֵה רְאוּבֵן" (כִּלְשׁוֹן הַכָּתוּבא, וְכִלְשׁוֹנוֹ בְּפֵרוּשׁוֹ שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֵי זֶה הַמּוּבָא בְּסָמוּךְ – "דֶּגֶל מַחֲנֵה יְהוּדָה") – כִּי כַּוָּנָתוֹ רַק לְשֵׁבֶט רְאוּבֵן לְחוּד, וְלֹא לִשְׁבָטִים שֶׁהָיוּ "חוֹנִים עָלָיו"].

The point is even more puzzling: Shortly thereafter, on the phrase,19 “Moshe, Aharon, and his sons,” Rashi comments, “Neighboring them was the flag of the camp of Yehudah and those who camped with them, Yissachar and Zevulun. [Concerning this encampment, it can be said,] ‘It is good for the righteous and good for his neighbor.’ Since [these tribes] were the neighbors of Moshe, who was occupied in Torah study, they [too] became great in Torah study.” Rashi’s source is in the passages from Midrash Tanchuma and Bamidbar Rabbah, loc. cit.20

When stating that “it is good for the righteous…,” Rashi mentions not only Yehudah, but also Yissachar and Zevulun. Why then when speaking about “woe to the wicked” does Rashi deviate from his source, mentioning only “the flag of Reuven”? On the surface, it can be said that according to a straightforward understanding of Scripture, the reason is that we do not find evidence that tribes of Gad and Shimon were drawn into the dispute initiated by Korach. However, it is necessary to understand the reason for this distinction. And it is also necessary to understand the difference between the approach of Rashi and the Midrashic sources: Was it only the tribe of Reuven who was drawn into the dispute or did being Korach’s neighbor also have an effect on the tribes of Shimon and Gad?

וְהַתְּמִיָּה גְּדוֹלָה יוֹתֵר: בְּהֶמְשֵׁךְ הָעִנְיָן, עַל הַפָּסוּקיב "מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו", פֵּרֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י "וּסְמוּכִין לָהֶם דֶּגֶל מַחֲנֵה יְהוּדָה וְהַחוֹנִים עָלָיו יִשָּׂשכָר וּזְבוּלוּן טוֹב לַצַּדִּיק טוֹב לִשְׁכֵנוֹ לְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ שְׁכֵנָיו שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה שֶׁהָיָה עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה נַעֲשׂוּ גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה" (וּמְקוֹרוֹ בְּתַנְחוּמָא וּבַמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה שָׁם)יג – הֲרֵי שֶׁכַּאן גַּבֵּי "טוֹב לַצַּדִּיק" הֵבִיא רַשִׁ"י גַּם אֶת יִשָּׂשכָר וּזְבוּלוּן, וּמַה טַּעַם שִׁנָּה רַשִׁ"י גַּבֵּי "אוֹי לָרָשָׁע כו'" וְכָתַב רַק "דֶּגֶל רְאוּבֵן" וְתוּ לֹא? וְלִכְאוֹרָה יֵשׁ לוֹמַר שֶׁזֶּהוּ לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא מָצִינוּ (בִּפְשׁוּטוֹ שֶׁל מִקְרָא) שֶׁגָּד וְשִׁמְעוֹן נִמְשְׁכוּ עִמּוֹ בַּמַּחֲלֹקֶת, וְצָרִיךְ לְהָבִין הַטַּעַם דְּחִלּוּק זֶה. וְכֵן – מַהִי סְבָרַת הַחִלּוּק בֵּין הַמִּדְרָשִׁים וְרַשִׁ"י דְּרַק שֵׁבֶט רְאוּבֵן נִמְשַׁךְ בַּמַּחֲלֹקֶת, אוֹ שֶׁהַשְּׁכֵנוּת דְּקֹרַח פָּעֲלָה גַּם עַל שֵׁבֶט שִׁמְעוֹן וְשֵׁבֶט גָּד?

b) Midrash Tanchuma and Bamidbar Rabbah do not specify which of the members of the tribe of Reuven perished with Korach and his company. Rashi, however, specifies that this included “Dasan, Aviram, and the 250 men,” who by and large were from the tribe of Reuven.21

ב) בְּתַנְחוּמָא וּבַמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה לֹא פֵרְשׁוּ מִי הֵם מִשֵּׁבֶט רְאוּבֵן שֶׁנֶּאֶבְדוּ עִם קֹרַח וַעֲדָתוֹ, וְאִלּוּ רַשִׁ"י מְפָרֵט "דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם וּמָאתַיִם וַחֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ" (שֶׁ(רֻבָּם) הֵם מִשֵּׁבֶט רְאוּבֵןיד ).

How Far-Reaching Is a Neighbor’s Influence?


It is possible to clarify the above by first explaining the different ways in which a person influences and affects his neighbor:


וְיֵשׁ לְבָאֵר זֶה בְּהֶקְדֵּם, שֶׁבְּעִנְיַן פְּעֻלַּת הַשְּׁכֵנוּת – הַשְׁפָּעַת אָדָם עַל שְׁכֵנוֹ – מָצִינוּ כַּמָּה אוֹפַנִּים:

a) A neighbor’s influence can be entirely external; a righteous person receives reward for his Divine service and that reward is also extended to his neighbor. Similarly, the converse is true; punishment to be visited upon a wicked person also affects his neighbor.22 This is reflected in the straightforward understanding of the Talmud’s wording at the conclusion of Tractate Sukkah23 that the entire priestly mishmar24 of Bilgah was punished because Miriam, a descendant of one of the families of that mishmar, abandoned her faith. To resolve the question why “the entire mishmar was punished” because of her, our Sages explain that they were punished because, “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor.”25

א) פְּעֻלַּת הַשָּׁכֵן הִיא בְּעִנְיָן חִיצוֹנִי לְגַמְרֵי, כְּגוֹן שֶׁהַשָּׂכָר שֶׁל צַדִּיק נִמְשָׁךְ גַּם לִשְׁכֵנוֹ, וְכֵן לְהֵפֶךְ, שֶׁהָעֹנֶשׁ שֶׁעַל הָרָשָׁע נִמְשָׁךְ גַּם עַל שְׁכֵנוֹטו. וּכְפַשְׁטוּת לְשׁוֹן הַגְּמָרָא (בְּסוֹף מַסֶּכֶת סֻכָּהטז ) דְּקָנְסוּ לְכָל הַמִּשְׁמָר כֻּלּוֹ בִּגְלַל "מִרְיָם בַּת בִּלְגָּה שֶׁהֵמִירָה דָתָהּ" [אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלִּכְאוֹרָה וְכִי בִּגְלָלָהּ "קָנְסִינָן לְכֻלָּה מִשְׁמָרָה", אֶלָּא] מִשּׁוּם "אוֹי לָרָשָׁע אוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ"יז.

b) There are times when the effect of a neighbor is internal. A person can affect the manner in which his neighbor conducts himself,26 and, indeed, can affect the neighbor’s internal being.27

ב) פְּעֻלַּת הַשָּׁכֵן הִיא פְּעֻלָּה פְּנִימִית, כְּלוֹמַר, שֶׁהוּא מְשַׁנֶּה אֶת אֹפֶן הַנְהָגָתוֹ שֶׁל שְׁכֵנוֹיח, וְעַד שֶׁמְּשַׁנֶּה גַם אֶת מַהוּתוֹיט.

c) The fact that two individuals or groups are neighbors is not the reason that “it is good for the righteous and good for his neighbor” or that “woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor.” Instead, it is a defining characteristic of the neighboring people or groups, i.e., the fact that they are neighbors shows that they share a connection that reflects their nature, characteristics, and the like. The fact that one lives near the other reveals and brings the other’s similar characteristics into the open from a hidden state, enabling their potential – whether positive or negative – to be actually expressed.

ג) שְׁכֵנוּת אֵינָהּ הַסִּבָּה לְזֶה שֶׁ"(טּוֹב לַצַּדִּיק) טוֹב לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" (אוֹ לְהֵפֶךְ – "(אוֹי לָרָשָׁע) אוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ"), אֶלָּא הוּא סִימָן עַל מַהוּתוֹ שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵן (שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁהֵם שְׁכֵנִים מוֹרֶה שֶׁשְּׁנֵיהֶם שַׁיָּכִים זֶה לְזֶה בְּמַהוּתָם וְגִדְרָם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בְזֶה), וּפְעֻלַּת הַשְּׁכֵנוּת הִיא שֶׁמְּגַלָּה וּמוֹצִיאָה תְּכוּנָה זוֹ (שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵן) מִן הַהֶעְלֵם וְהַכֹּחַ אֶל הַגִּלּוּי וְהַפֹּעַל.

A Mirror in Halachah


It is possible to say that the source for these three ways in which neighbors can affect each other is reflected in the source for the concept, “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor,” in halachahspecifically, the laws involving tzaraas blemishes on homes.28 Regarding a tzaraas blemish that appears on a common wall between two homes, the Torah states,29 “The kohen shall order that they shall remove the stones upon which the blemish is found.” Toras Kohanim comments on that verse:

“They shall remove” – this teaches that they both must [participate in] the removal. Based on this [source, our Sages] said, “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor.” Both must [participate in] the removal; both must [participate in] scraping out [the remnants of the mortar]; both must [participate in] bringing [new] stones.

Similar statements are found in the Mishnah, Tractate Negayim.30


וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר הַמָּקוֹר לִשְׁלֹשָׁה אוֹפַנִּים אֵלֶּה, בִּמְקוֹר הָעִנְיָן דְּ"אוֹי לָרָשָׁע אוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" בַּהֲלָכָה – בְּדִינֵי נִגְעֵי בָּתִּים, וְזֶה לְשׁוֹן הַתּוֹרַת כֹּהֲנִיםכ : "וְחִלְּצוּ מְלַמֵּד שֶׁשְּׁנֵיהֶם חוֹלְצִים, מִיכַּן אָמְרוּ אוֹי לָרָשָׁע אוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ, שְׁנֵיהֶם חוֹלְצִים שְׁנֵיהֶם קוֹצְעִין שְׁנֵיהֶם מְבִיאִים אֶת הָאֲבָנִים" (וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה הוּא בְּמִשְׁנָה נְגָעִיםכא ).

There are three interpretations of this law:

וּבְגִדְרוֹ שֶׁל דִּין זֶה יֶשְׁנָם ג' פֵּרוּשִׁים:

a) “If there is a [common] wall intervening between two homes, should a tzaraas blemish appear on the wall of one home, the owner of the other home must work together with the owner of the home with the blemish [to rid it of the traces of tzaraas], as [implied by] the plural [form of the verb in] the phrase, ‘They shall remove...’ ”31

According to this interpretation, the obligation does not apply to the object – i.e., the wall itself, which is referred to as the cheftza, belonging to the neighbor. Instead, the law applies to the actions of the gavra, the person himself – what he as a neighbor of the wicked person must do. He must work with the owner of the blemished wall to remove the stones, scrape out the mortar and bring new stones for that neighbor’s wall.

א) "אִם כֹּתֶל מַפְסִיק בֵּין שְׁנֵי בָּתִּים וְנִרְאָה נֶגַע בַּכֹּתֶל לְצַד בַּיִת זֶה בַּעַל הַבַּיִת אַחֵר צָרִיךְ לְהִטַּפֵּל עִמּוֹ דִּכְתִיב וְחִלְּצוּ אֶת הָאֲבָנִים לְשׁוֹן רַבִּים כו'"כב. שֶׁלְּפִי פֵּרוּשׁ זֶה, לֹא חָל חִיּוּב זֶה עַל הַחֶפְצָא (הַכֹּתֶל) שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵן, אֶלָּא זֶהוּ דִּין בְּטִפּוּל הַגַּבְרָא, דִּשְׁכֵנוֹ שֶׁל הָרָשָׁע "צָרִיךְ לְהִטַּפֵּל עִמּוֹ" בַּחֲלִיצַת הָאֲבָנִים וּבְקִצּוּעַ וַהֲבָאַת הָאֲבָנִים שֶׁל הָרָשָׁע.

b) Alternatively, the obligation for them both to remove the objects on which the tzaraas blemish appeared applies not only to the gavra, but also to the stones. Even though the blemish did not appear on a stone or a portion of a stone located in the neighbor’s house, that stone or portion of a stone must also be removed.

ב) הָא דִּ"שְׁנֵיהֶם חוֹלְצִים" הַיְנוּ שֶׁהַחִיּוּב דַּחֲלִיצַת הָאֶבֶן חָל גַּם עַל חֵלֶק הָאֶבֶן שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵן (שֶׁלֹּא נִרְאָה בּוֹ הַנֶּגַע).

c) Further, there are two interpretations of this obligation:

וּבְזֶה גוּפָא – שְׁנֵי פֵּרוּשִׁים:

1) Rashi’s approach in his commentary at the end of Tractate Sukkah17 is that the law from Toras Kohanim – that both must remove the stone because, “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor” – applies only to a stone in the corner. As Rashi explains in another source,32 in the interpretation of a second mishnah in Tractate Negayim,33 “[When there is] a blemished stone in a corner, when he34 removes it, he should remove it in its entirety.”

Rashi26 interprets that mishnah, “ [When there is] a blemished stone in a corner and [the stone] is visible both in the first house and the second…,” and explains, “It is common to place large stones that strengthen the full width of the wall at the corner of a home; thus [such a stone] is visible from both sides.”35 Even though no blemish is visible on the other side of the stone, the stone must be removed in its entirety.36

(א) שִׁיטַת רַשִׁ"י (בְּסוֹף מַסֶּכֶת סֻכָּהטז) – שֶׁהַדִּין (שֶׁבְּתוֹרַת כֹּהֲנִים) דִּ"שְׁנֵיהֶן חוֹלְצִין" (מִפְּנֵי "אוֹי לָרָשָׁע וְאוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ") הוּא (רַק) "בְּאֶבֶן שֶׁבַּמִּקְצוֹעַ", וּכְמוֹ שֶׁפֵּרֵשׁ רַשִׁ"י בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵרכג בְּפֵרוּשׁ דִּבְרֵי הַמִּשְׁנָה (דְּמַסֶּכֶת נְגָעִיםכד ) "אֶבֶן שֶׁבַּזָּוִית כְּשֶׁהוּאכה חוֹלֵץ חוֹלֵץ אֶת כֻּלּוֹ", "אֶבֶן הַמְנֻגַּעַת שֶׁבַּזָּוִית שֶׁנִּרְאָה בְּבַיִת זֶה וּבְבַיִת זֶה שֶׁכֵּן דֶּרֶךְ הַזָּוִיּוֹת לָתֵת שָׁם אֲבָנִים גְּדוֹלוֹת הַמַּחֲזִיקִים אֶת כָּל עֹבִי הַכֹּתֶל וְנִרְאֶה מִשְּׁנֵי צְדָדִים"כו – שֶׁאֶבֶן זוֹ יֵשׁ עָלֶיהָ חִיּוּב לַחֲלוֹץ אֶת כֻּלָּהּ (גַּם הַצַּד שֶׁלֹּא נִרְאָה בּוֹ הַנֶּגַע)כז.

2) There are other commentators37 who maintain that the requirement to remove the [blemished] stone(s) applies not only to a stone in the corner visible from both sides of the wall, but to all the stones across the entire span of the wall separating the two homes that are opposite the blemished stone(s) on the other side of the wall. This is the intent of the mishnahs words,38 “If a wall intervenes between two homes and a tzaraas blemish appears on the wall of one home… they must both remove….” The obligation arises because, “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor.”39 The neighbor is obligated to remove the stones on his side of the wall that are opposite the blemish.40

(ב) יֵשׁ מְפָרְשִׁיםכח, שֶׁהַדִּין דְּ"חוֹלֵץ אֶת כֻּלּוֹ" הוּא לֹא רַק בְּאֶבֶן שֶׁבְּזָוִית הַבַּיִת (שֶׁנִּרְאֵית מִשְּׁנֵי הַצְּדָדִים), אֶלָּא בְּכָל חֶלְקֵי הַכֹּתֶל (שֶׁכְּנֶגֶד הַנֶּגַע בְּצַד הַשֵּׁנִי) הַמַּפְסִיק בֵּין שְׁנֵי הַבָּתִּים, וְזוֹהִי כַּוָּנַת הַמִּשְׁנָה דְּ"כֹתֶלכט מַפְסִיק בֵּין שְׁנֵי בָּתִּים וְנִרְאָה נֶגַע בַּכֹּתֶל לְצַד בַּיִת זֶה" – "שְׁנֵיהֶם חוֹלְצִין" (מִשּׁוּם "אוֹי לָרָשָׁע אוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ")ל, שֶׁגַּם חֲבֵרוֹ חַיָּב לַחֲלוֹץ הָאֲבָנִים שֶׁבְּחֵלֶק שֶׁלּוֹ (נֶגֶד הַנֶּגַע)לא.

It is possible to say that these three rulings and approaches parallel the three ways in which neighbors affect each other as reflected in the interpretations of “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor.”

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁג' דִינִים (וְשִׁיטוֹת) אֵלּוּ הֵם בְּהֶתְאֵם לְג' הָאוֹפַנִּים הַנַּ"ל בִּפְעֻלַּת הַשְּׁכֵנוּת ("אוֹי לָרָשָׁע אוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ"):

According to the first approach, the effect of a neighbor is entirely external. Therefore, the blemish on one person’s home does not affect the wall or home of the neighbor. It only obligates him to work together with the person whose home is affected and help him remove the stones.

לְאֹפֶן הָא' פְּעֻלַּת הַשָּׁכֵן הִיא פְּעֻלָּה חִיצוֹנִית בִּלְבָד, וְלָכֵן אֵינוֹ פּוֹעֵל עַל הַכֹּתֶל (בֵּיתוֹ) שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵן, אֶלָּא רַק מְחַיֵּב אֶת הַשָּׁכֵן שֶׁיִּטַּפֵּל עִמּוֹ בַּחֲלִיצַת הָאֲבָנִים.

According to the second approach to understanding “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor,” the blemish on a person’s home has a stronger and more internal effect on his neighbor’s home. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the entire stone in the corner of the home, even the portion on the neighbor’s side. It is as if the neighbor’s portion of the stone is also blemished.

לְאֹפֶן הַב', "אוֹי לָרָשָׁע אוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" הוּא הַשְׁפָּעָה חֲזָקָה (פְּנִימִית) יוֹתֵר, וְלָכֵן צָרִיךְ לַחֲלוֹץ אֶת כָּל הָאֶבֶן שֶׁבְּזָוִית הַבַּיִת, גַּם הַחֵלֶק שֶׁלְּצַד הַשָּׁכֵן, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁזֶּהוּ כְּאִלּוּ גַּם אֶבֶן שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵן הִיא מְנֻגַּעַת.

According to the third approach, however, the neighbor of the wicked person must also remove all the stones on his side of the wall opposite the blemished stone. The reason is that his being the wicked person’s neighbor indicates that the two share a connection with each other. It is not only that the wicked person has an influence on him. Instead, it shows that they share a fundamental connection. Therefore, the appearance of a blemish on the side of the wall belonging to the wicked person shows that the stones on the other side of the wall belonging to the neighbor also are connected with the blemish – and, therefore, these stones must also be removed – even though the blemish is not visible on the stone(s) of the neighbor’s wall or part of it.

אֲבָל לְאֹפֶן הַג', צָרִיךְ שְׁכֵנוֹ שֶׁל הָ"רָשָׁע" לַחֲלוֹץ הָאֲבָנִים שֶׁבְּחֵלֶק שֶׁלּוֹ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַשְּׁכֵנוּת לָרָשָׁע מוֹרָה עַל שַׁיָּכוּתוֹ לְהָרָשָׁע, לֹא מִצַּד הַשְׁפָּעַת הָרָשָׁע עָלָיו, אֶלָּא זֶהוּ סִימָן שֶׁבְּעֶצֶם שַׁיָּכִים זֶה לְזֶה. וְלָכֵן בְּכֹתֶל זֶה שֶׁבּוֹ נִרְאֶה הַנֶּגַע בְּצַד אַחֵר אֵצֶל חֲבֵרוֹ, הֲרֵי זֶה מוֹרֶה שֶׁגַּם חֵלֶק הַכֹּתֶל שֶׁכְּנֶגְדּוֹ הַשַּׁיָּךְ לַחֲבֵרוֹ שַׁיָּךְ לְהַנֶּגַע (אַף שֶׁלֹּא נִרְאָה בּוֹ, וְאֵינוֹ אֶבֶן אַחַת עִמּוֹ).

Inherent or Acquired Tendencies?


On this basis, it is possible to explain the reason for the difference between the three interpretations cited in sec. 1 – those of Midrash Tanchuma, Bamidbar Rabbah, and Rashi regarding, “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor” and its connection to the location of the camp of Reuven next to the descendants of Kehos.


וּלְפִי זֶה יֵשׁ לְבָאֵר גַּם טַעַם הַחִלּוּק בֵּין שְׁלֹשֶׁת הַדְּרָשׁוֹת הַנַּ"ל בְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּ – הַתַּנְחוּמָא, בַּמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה וּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י – בְּפֵרוּשׁ הָעִנְיָן דְּ"אוֹי לָרָשָׁע וְאוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" בְּעִנְיַן הַסְּמִיכוּת דְּדֶגֶל מַחֲנֵה רְאוּבֵן לִבְנֵי קְהָת:

Midrash Tanchumah follows the first approach – that in this instance, the effect of a neighbor relates primarily to the concept of punishment: The punishment visited upon the wicked also extends to his neighbor. Even when the wicked one causes his neighbor to participate41 in his evil actions, the neighbor is merely drawn after him. His inner being has not changed as a result of his participation. Therefore, Midrash Tanchuma merely states that “they perished together with them [i.e., Korach and his company] in their dispute.”

הַתַּנְחוּמָא סְבִירָא לֵיהּ כְּאֹפֶן הָא', שֶׁפְּעֻלַּת הַשְּׁכֵנוּת (כַּאן) הִיא בְּעִקָּר לְעִנְיַן הָעֹנֶשׁ, שֶׁהָעֹנֶשׁ שֶׁבָּא עַל הָרָשָׁע נִמְשָׁךְ גַּם עַל שְׁכֵנוֹ (וַאֲפִלּוּ כְּשֶׁפּוֹעֵל שֶׁשְּׁכֵנוֹ יִשְׁתַּתֵּףלב בְּמַעֲשָׂיו הָרָעִים, הֲרֵי זֶה רַק מַה שֶּׁשְּׁכֵנוֹ נִגְרָר אַחֲרָיו, אֲבָל לֹא שֶׁנַּעֲשֶׂה עַל יְדֵי זֶה שִׁנּוּי בְּמַהוּתוֹ שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵן), וְלָכֵן מֵבִיא רַק שֶׁ"אָבְדוּ עִמּוֹ בְּמַחְלְקוּתוֹ";

Rashi views the effect of a neighbor as extending beyond causing collateral punishment and sees it as affecting and changing the neighbor’s character. Accordingly, Rashi not only states that the members of the tribe of Reuven “were punished together with Korach,” but also that, as a result of being the wicked person’s neighbor, “they were [themselves] drawn into the dispute together with them.”42

לְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י פְּעֻלַּת הַשְּׁכֵנוּת אֵינָהּ רַק בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לָעֹנֶשׁ אֶלָּא הִיא גַּם פְּעֻלָּה וְשִׁנּוּי בְּגוּף הַשָּׁכֵן, וְזֶהוּ שֶׁמּוֹסִיף רַשִׁ"י (שֶׁלֹּא רַק "לָקוּ מֵהֶם", אֶלָּא) "שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם"לג.

Moreover, it can be said that Rashi’s intent in saying, “Therefore, Dasan and Aviram… were punished together with Korach and his company, because they were drawn into the dispute together with them,”43 was not to emphasize two separate points: a) that they were punished with them, and b) they were drawn into the dispute together with them. Were that the intent, the order of Rashi’s statements should have been reversed: “They were drawn into the dispute together with them,” therefore, “they were punished….”44 Instead, the two points are in fact one; they were punished in that “they were drawn into the dispute together with them.” Their punishment was twofold: they became inciters of the dispute and they suffered the consequences.

[וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁאֵין כַּוָּנַת רַשִׁ"י בְּמַה שֶּׁכָּתַב "לְכָךְ לָקוּ מֵהֶם דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם כו' עִם קֹרַח וַעֲדָתוֹ שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם"לד שֶׁהֵם שְׁנֵי עִנְיָנִים – (א) שֶׁנֶּעֶנְשׁוּ עִמָּהֶם (לָקוּ), (ב) וְנִמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בַּמַּחֲלֹקֶת [שֶׁלְּפִי זֶה הֲוָה לֵיהּ לְמֵימַר בְּסֵדֶר הָפוּךְ, "שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם . . וּלְכָךְ לָקוּ"לה ] – אֶלָּא הַיְנוּ הַךְ, שֶׁ"לָּקוּ" בְּכָךְ "שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם"].

On this basis, the difference between the wording employed by Rashi and Midrash Tanchuma is further clarified. Midrash Tanchuma uses the phrase, “perished together with him in his45 dispute.” Rashi, however, uses different wording, stating, “they were drawn into their dispute together with them,” using a plural form. It can be said that according to Midrash Tanchuma, the emphasis is that the neighbors were merely drawn after Korach. Accordingly, the emphasis is that it was only his – Korach’s – dispute, i.e., the evil activity is ascribed only to the one wicked person and not to his neighbors. By contrast, according to Rashi, the closeness to Korach and his company affected his neighbors to the extent that they “were drawn into their dispute together with them.”46 The wording implies that the dispute also became the neighbors’; it was not only Korach’s personal dispute, but that of all involved.

וְעַל פִּי זֶה מְבֹאָר עוֹד שִׁנּוּי לָשׁוֹן בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י מִלְּשׁוֹן הַתַּנְחוּמָא, שֶׁבַּתַּנְחוּמָא הַלָּשׁוֹן "אָבְדוּ עִמּוֹ בְּמַחְלְקוּתוֹ", וְרַשִׁ"י מְשַׁנֶּה וְכוֹתֵב "שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם" (לְשׁוֹן רַבִּים) – דְּיֵשׁ לוֹמַרלו, שֶׁבַּתַּנְחוּמָא הַהַדְגָּשָׁה שֶׁהַשְּׁכֵנִים רַק נִגְרְרוּ אַחֲרֵי קֹרַח, וְלָכֵן מַדְגִּישׁ שֶׁזּוֹהִי רַק "מַחְלְקוּתוֹ" (שֶׁל קֹרַח), שֶׁמַּעֲשֵׂה הָרָע מִתְיַחֵס רַק לְהָרָשָׁע וְלֹא לִשְׁכֵנוֹ; מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן לְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י שֶׁמִּצַּד הַשְּׁכֵנוּת לְקֹרַח "נִמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם", שֶׁמְּרַמֵּז שֶׁהַשְּׁכֵנִים נִמְשְׁכוּ בַּמַּחֲלֹקֶת, עַד שֶׁנַּעֲשֵׂית גַּם מַחֲלֹקֶת הַשָּׁכֵן, מַחֲלֹקֶת שֶׁל רַבִּים;

The approach of Bamidbar Rabbah follows the third interpretation mentioned previously – the fact that people are neighbors is a sign of a commonality shared by the neighbors, and that their inner natures are interrelated. This is reflected in the wording of Bamidbar Rabbah, “They were all inciters of dispute,” and “They were also inciters of discord.” Unlike Rashi, who states that “they were drawn into the dispute together with them” – i.e., initially, this was unnatural to them – Bamidbar Rabbah understands discord as being inherent to these tribes. Being Korach’s neighbors just revealed this tendency and brought it from its hidden state into expression.

Similar concepts apply regarding the positive tendency implied by the statements of Bamidbar Rabbah before that – the tribes in the camp of Yehudah who were the neighbors of Moshe and Aharon “were all great in Torah study.” The implication is that this was their natural trait; being the neighbors of Moshe and Aharon revealed47 that, in essence, “they were all (fit to be) great in Torah study.” Midrash Tanchuma and Rashi, by contrast, state merely that “they became great in Torah study,” i.e., this was not a natural trait, but an acquired tendency.

אֲבָל שִׁיטַת הַבַּמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה הִיא כְּאֹפֶן הג' הַנַּ"ל, שֶׁשְּׁכֵנוּת הֲרֵי זוֹ סִימָן עַל מַהוּתָם שֶׁל הַשְּׁכֵנִים, שֶׁבְּמַהוּתָם שַׁיָּכִים זֶה לְזֶה. וְזֶהוּ שֶׁמְּדַיֵּק בְּבַמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה "הָיוּ כֻּלָּם בַּעֲלֵי מַחֲלֹקֶת כו' אַף הֵם הָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי מְרִיבָה" (וְלֹא "שֶׁנִּמְשְׁכוּ עִמָּהֶם בְּמַחֲלֻקְתָּם", כִּבְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י), וְהַיְנוּ שֶׁזּוֹהִי תְּכוּנָתָם בְּעֶצֶם, וְהַשְּׁכֵנוּת רַק גִּלְּתָה וְהוֹצִיאָה תְּכוּנָה זוֹ מִן הַהֶעְלֵם אֶל הַפֹּעַל. וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה לִפְנֵי זֶה בְּצַד הַטּוֹב אוֹמֵר שָׁם שֶׁהַ"שְּׁבָטִים (דְּדֶגֶל מַחֲנֵה יְהוּדָה) שֶׁהָיוּ סְמוּכִים לְמֹשֶׁה וּלְאַהֲרֹן . . הָיוּ כֻּלָּם גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה" (וְלֹא (רַק) "שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה", כְּבַתַּנְחוּמָא וּבְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י) – שֶׁהַשְּׁכֵנוּת גִּלְּתָהלז שֶׁבְּעֶצֶם "הָיוּ כֻּלָּם (רְאוּיִים לִהְיוֹת) גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה".

It is possible to say that this is the emphasis in the passage in Bamidbar Rabbah, which – when speaking about the positive qualities – states, “Fortunate is the righteous man and fortunate is his neighbor.” Midrash Tanchuma and Rashi place a lamed, meaning “to,” before the terms tzaddik, “righteous man,” and shecheino, “his neighbor,” implying that good fortune or goodness will be granted “to a righteous man and his neighbor.” According to these sources, good fortune and goodness are granted to a neighbor by virtue of a righteous man and his influence, while according to Bamidbar Rabbah, the good fortune is an inherent quality shared by both equally. It is possible to say that this is the precise intent in the statement, “Concerning them,48 it can be said, ‘Fortunate is the righteous man and fortunate is his neighbor.’ ”

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר שֶׁזֶּהוּ מַה שֶּׁמְּדַיֵּק בְּבַמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה שָׁם (בְּצַד הַטּוֹב) "אַשְׁרֵי צַדִּיק וְאַשְׁרֵי שְׁכֵנוֹ", לֹא "לַצַּדִּיק . . לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" כְּבַתַּנְחוּמָא (וּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י), כִּי לַתַּנְחוּמָא (וּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י) הָאֹשֶׁר (וְהַטּוֹב) שֶׁבָּא לִשְׁכֵנוֹ הוּא בָּא עַל יְדֵי (מִצַּד) הַצַּדִּיק וְהַשְׁפָּעָתוֹ, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּבַמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה הָ"אַשְׁרֵי" הוּא עַל שְׁנֵיהֶם בְּשָׁוֶה, וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר שֶׁזֶּהוּ מַה שֶּׁמְּדַיֵּק "וַעֲלֵיהֶם נֶאֱמַרלח אַשְׁרֵי צַדִּיק וְאַשְׁרֵי שְׁכֵנוֹ".

Moreover, it could be said that this interpretation of the approach of Bamidbar Rabbahthat the fact that people or groups are neighbors indicates a fundamental and inherent connection – corresponds to the general approach of the interpretation of Bamidbar Rabbah here. That source begins with a description of the inherent qualities associated with the four directions, East, West, North, and South49 in which the four camps of tribes were located:50

The East – from there, light emerges for the world.51 In that [direction was located the camp of the tribes captained by the tribe of] Yehudah who were masters of kingship, masters of Torah, and masters of mitzvos. Therefore, next to them were camped Moshe, Aharon, and his sons, the masters of Torah and masters of mitzvos who would bring atonement to the Jewish people through their prayers and sacrifices.

Regarding their encampment, that text continues, “Concerning them, it can be said, ‘Fortunate is the righteous man and fortunate is his neighbor.’ These are the tribes that were neighbors of Moshe and Aharon…. They were all great in Torah [study].” The implication is that because of the inherent positive qualities of the tribes of the camp of Yehudah and their connection to the East, they camped in that uniquely favorable direction and, “therefore, Moshe, Aharon, and his sons [also] camped there.”

[וְיֵשׁ לְהוֹסִיף, שֶׁבֵּאוּר זֶה בְּשִׁיטַת הַבַּמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה, שֶׁשְּׁכֵנוּת הִיא סִימָן עַל הַשַּׁיָּכוּת וְהַקֶּשֶׁר שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶם בְּעֶצֶם, מַתְאִים עִם כְּלָלוּת תֹּכֶן דְּרָשַׁת הַבַּמִּדְבָּר רַבָּה כַּאן, שֶׁמַּתְחִיל בְּהַסְּגֻלָּה שֶׁל הַמְּקוֹמוֹת (ד' הָרוּחוֹת מִזְרָח מַעֲרָב צָפוֹן וְדָרוֹםלט ) שֶׁשָּׁם חָנוּ הַדְּגָלִיםמ, וְכִלְשׁוֹנוֹ "מִזְרָח מִשָּׁם הָאוֹר יוֹצֵא לָעוֹלָם וְשָׁם הָיוּ חוֹנִים דֶּגֶל יְהוּדָה שֶׁהָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי מְלוּכָה בַּעֲלֵי תּוֹרָה בַּעֲלֵי מִצְוֹת לְכָךְ הָיוּ חוֹנִים שָׁם מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו שֶׁהָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי תּוֹרָה בַּעֲלֵי מִצְוֹת מְכַפְּרִים עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּתְפִלָּתָם וּבְקָרְבָּנָם", וְעַל זֶה מַמְשִׁיךְ "וַעֲלֵיהֶם נֶאֱמַר אַשְׁרֵי צַדִּיק וְאַשְׁרֵי שְׁכֵנוֹ אֵלּוּ שְׁבָטִים שֶׁהָיוּ סְמוּכִים לְמֹשֶׁה וּלְאַהֲרֹן כו' הָיוּ כֻּלָּם גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה כו'", וְהַיְנוּ שֶׁמִּצַּד מַעֲלָתָם בְּעֶצֶם שֶׁל דֶּגֶל יְהוּדָה וְשַׁיָּכוּתָם לְ"מִזְרָח", חָנוּ דֶּגֶל יְהוּדָה בְּרוּחַ מְסֻגָּל דְּמִזְרָח, וּ"לְכָךְ (גַּם) הָיוּ חוֹנִים שָׁם מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו"].

More than an External Effect


According to this interpretation of Rashi’s approach, it is possible to understand the reason why Rashi speaks only about “the camp of Reuven” but does not mention the tribes of Shimon and Gad.


עַל פִּי הַסְבָּרָה זוֹ בְּשִׁיטַת רַשִׁ"י מוּבָן הַטַּעַם שֶׁרַשִׁ"י כּוֹתֵב רַק "דֶּגֶל רְאוּבֵן" וְלֹא הֵבִיא גַּם שִׁמְעוֹן וְגָד:

As noted earlier (sec. 5), Rashi maintains that “woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor” results from the influence of the wicked person on the conduct and nature of his neighbor. Obviously, the effect of such a person on his neighbor is not the same universally. Instead, the effect varies from neighbor to neighbor. Consequently, in the case at hand, all that can be said is what is specifically mentioned in the Torah: that, as explicitly stated, the tribe of Reuven was drawn into the dispute. Since they were the primary tribe associated with the flag of that camp, it is understood that they were the closest and most connected to the descendants of Kehos – and, specifically, Korach. By contrast, the tribes of Shimon and Gad are not explicitly associated with this dispute in Scripture. Accordingly, there is no need to say52 that the influence of being Korach’s neighbor affected them to the extent that they were drawn into the dispute with him and his company.53

Moreover, with regard to the members of the tribe of Reuven themselves, Rashi specifies that, “Of them, Dasan, Aviram, and 250 men were punished,” i.e., Korach did not influence the entire tribe of Reuven, only a small number of that tribe.

כֵּיוָן שֶׁלְּשִׁיטַת רַשִׁ"י "אוֹי לָרָשָׁע וְאוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" הוּא מִצַּד הַשְׁפָּעַת הָרָשָׁע עַל הַנְהָגַת הַשָּׁכֵן וּמַהוּתוֹ, מוּבָן, שֶׁאֵינוֹ דָּבָר הַשָּׁוֶה בַּכֹּל, וּבְמֵילָא (בְּנִדּוֹן דִּידַן) אֵין לְךָ בּוֹ אֶלָּא חִדּוּשׁוֹ, שֵׁבֶט רְאוּבֵן שֶׁמְּפֹרָשׁ בּוֹ שֶׁנִּמְשַׁךְ בְּמַחֲלֹקֶת. דְּכֵיוָן שֶׁהֵם הָיוּ עִקַּר הַדֶּגֶל, בְּמֵילָא מוּבָן שֶׁהֵם הָיוּ "סְמוּכִים" וְשַׁיָּכִים בְּיוֹתֵר לִ(בְנֵי קְהָת –) קֹרַח; מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן עַל שִׁמְעוֹן וְגָד שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְפֹרָשׁ בִּקְרָא, אֵין הֶכְרֵחַ לוֹמַרמא שֶׁגַּם בָּהֶם פָּעֲלָה וְהִשְׁפִּיעָה הַשְּׁכֵנוּת שֶׁיִּהְיוּ נִמְשָׁכִים עִמָּהֶםמב ; וּבִרְאוּבֵן גּוּפָא מְדַיֵּק רַשִׁ"י "לָקוּ מֵהֶם דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם וּמָאתַיִם וַחֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ", הַיְנוּ שֶׁלֹּא הִשְׁפִּיעַ קֹרַח עַל כָּל הַשֵּׁבֶט אֶלָּא עַל מִסְפָּר מוּעָט בְּשֵׁבֶט רְאוּבֵן גּוּפָא.

For this reason, Rashi specifies “Dasan, Aviram, and 250 men,” instead of saying, “Therefore, some of [the tribe’s members] were punished together with Korach and his company.” By mentioning Dasan and Aviram together with the 250 men, he intended to emphasize the nature of the effect on one’s nature that results from being the neighbor of a wicked person – that one’s nature is changed. Clearly, Dasan and Aviram were not merely drawn into Korach’s dispute; they were inciters of discord by nature.54 Similarly, being the neighbor of a wicked person had an effect on the nature of these 250 men, causing them as well to become inciters of discord.55

וּמִטַּעַם זֶה מְפָרֵט רַשִׁ"י "דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם וּמָאתַיִם וַחֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ" וְלֹא כָתַב סְתָם "לְכָךְ לָקוּ מֵהֶם עִם קֹרַח וַעֲדָתוֹ" – שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁבְּזֶה שֶׁצֵּרֵף "דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם" לְהַ"מָּאתַיִם וַחֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ" בַּחֲדָא מַחְתָּא, כַּוָּנָתוֹ לְהַדְגִּישׁ תֹּכֶן וְעִנְיָנָהּ שֶׁל שְׁכֵנוּת לָרָשָׁע, שֶׁפּוֹעֶלֶת וּמַשְׁפִּיעָה עַל מַהוּתָם שֶׁל הָאֲנָשִׁים הַשְּׁכֵנִים אֵלָיו, דִּכְשֵׁם שֶׁפָּשׁוּט שֶׁ"דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם" לֹא רַק נִגְרְרוּ אַחֲרֵי מַחֲלֻקְתּוֹ שֶׁל קֹרַח, אֶלָּא הֵם הָיוּ בַּעֲלֵי מַחֲלֹקֶת בְּטֶבַעמג, כָּךְ נִפְעַל בְּהַמָּאתַיִם וַחֲמִשִּׁים אִישׁ עַל יְדֵי הַשְּׁכֵנוּת לָרָשָׁע, שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ בַּעֲלֵי מַחֲלֹקֶתמד.

Good Is More than Skin Deep


On the surface, a question can be raised regarding the concept that, according to Midrash Tanchuma, a neighbor merely brings about an external influence, leading to collateral punishment and the like. However, regarding the fact that the flag of the camp of Yehudah bordered on the place where Moshe and Aharon camped, that Midrash specifically states:

Concerning this, it was said, “Good fortune [will come] to the righteous and good fortune [will come] to his neighbor.” These three tribes who were close to Moshe and Aharon became great in Torah [study]: Concerning Yehudah, it is said,56 “The staff will not depart…”; regarding Yissachar, it is said,57 “From the descendants of Yissachar were those who had understanding [of the times…,”] and from Zevulon, “there were those who wield the pen of a scribe.” Since they were [Moshe’s] neighbors, they all became men of Torah.”58

Thus, we see that, even according to the Midrash Tanchuma, the fact that they were neighbors affected them internally – they became “great in Torah” and “men of Torah.”


אֶלָּא שֶׁלִּכְאוֹרָה מַה שֶּׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵיל, שֶׁלְּפִי הַתַּנְחוּמָא עִנְיַן הַשְּׁכֵנוּת הוּא רַק פְּעֻלָּה חִיצוֹנִית לְעִנְיַן עֹנֶשׁ לְחוּד, צָרִיךְ עִיּוּן – שֶׁהֲרֵי מְפֹרָשׁ בַּתַּנְחוּמָא שָׁם לְעִנְיַן סְמִיכוּת דֶּגֶל מַחֲנֵה יְהוּדָה לִמְקוֹם חֲנִיַּת מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן: "מִכַּאן אָמְרוּ אַשְׁרֵי לַצַּדִּיק וְאַשְׁרֵי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ אֵלּוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת הַשְּׁבָטִים שֶׁהָיוּ סְמוּכִים לְמֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן נַעֲשׂוּ גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה, יְהוּדָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרמה לֹא יָסוּר . . בְּיִשָּׂשכָר כְּתִיבמו וּמִבְּנֵי יִשָּׂשכָר יוֹדְעֵי בִינָה . . וּמִזְּבוּלוּן מוֹשְׁכִים בְּשֵׁבֶט סוֹפֵרמז עַל שֶׁהָיוּ שְׁכֵנָיו כֻּלָּם נַעֲשׂוּ בְּנֵי תּוֹרָה", הֲרֵי שֶׁהַשְּׁכֵנוּת פָּעֲלָה בָּהֶם גּוּפָא, שֶׁ"נַּעֲשׂוּ גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה . . בְּנֵי תּוֹרָה"?

It is possible to say that, according to Midrash Tanchuma, there is a difference between a good neighbor and an evil neighbor. The effect of an evil neighbor is only external, causing merely collateral punishment, or to the greatest extent, causing the neighbor to be drawn after him. By contrast, the influence of a good neighbor – concerning whom can be applied the axiom,59 “A good attribute surpasses an attribute of retribution…” – also affects the inner makeup of his neighbor, transforming it to good. Therefore, Midrash Tanchuma writes, “These three tribes who were close to Moshe and Aharon became great in Torah [study].”

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁלְּדַעַת הַתַּנְחוּמָא יֵשׁ חִלּוּק בֵּין שָׁכֵן טוֹב לְשָׁכֵן רָע, דִּשְׁכֵנוּת לְרָע פְּעֻלָּתָהּ רַק חִיצוֹנִית (בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לְעֹנֶשׁ, אוֹ לְכָל הַיּוֹתֵר שֶׁהַשָּׁכֵן יִגָּרֵר אַחֲרָיו), מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּשָׁכֵן טוֹב – שֶׁ"מִּדָּה טוֹבָה מְרֻבָּה כו'"מח – פּוֹעֶלֶת הַשְּׁכֵנוּת גַּם עַל מַהוּתוֹ שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵן, שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּנָּה לְטוֹב, וְלָכֵן כּוֹתֵב הַתַּנְחוּמָא שֶׁ"אֵלּוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת הַשְּׁבָטִים שֶׁהָיוּ סְמוּכִים לְמֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן נַעֲשׂוּ גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה."

Perhaps it can be said that according to Rashi, there is an advantage of the power of a good neighbor over that of an evil neighbor since “a good attribute surpasses….”60 For this reason, the fact that Moshe and Aharon were the neighbors of the flag of the camp of Yehudah had an effect not only on the tribe of Yehudah, the leading tribe of the camp, who were the closest to them, but also had a positive effect on the tribes of Yissachar and Zevulon who camped together with Yehudah. By contrast, the negative effect of the descendants of Kehos influenced only the tribe of Reuven, who was closest to Korach, as explained above.

וְאוּלַי יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁגַּם לְשִׁיטַת רַשִׁ"י יֵשׁ מַעֲלָה בִּשְׁכֵנוּת לְטוֹב לְגַבֵּי שְׁכֵנוּת לְרָע (דִּמְרֻבָּה מִדָּה טוֹבָה כו')מט, שֶׁלָּכֵן הַשְּׁכֵנוּת דְּדֶגֶל מַחֲנֵה יְהוּדָה לְמֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן פָּעֲלָה לֹא רַק עַל שֵׁבֶט יְהוּדָה רֹאשׁ הַמַּחֲנֶה – הַסָּמוּךְ לוֹ (עַל דֶּרֶךְ פְּעֻלַּת בְּנֵי קְהָת עַל דֶּגֶל רְאוּבֵן לְבָד כַּנַּ"ל), אֶלָּא גַּם עַל יִשָּׂשכָר וּזְבוּלוּן הַחוֹנִים עַל דֶּגֶל מַחֲנֵה יְהוּדָה.

A further point can be added: This concept is emphasized by the variation in the prooftext Rashi chose to demonstrate that the tribe of Yehudah became “great in Torah [study].” Rashi cites a phrase from Tehillim,61 “Yehudah is My lawgiver,”62 unlike Midrash Tanchuma, which cites the verse, “The staff will not depart from Yehudah, nor the lawgiver’s rod between his legs.”63 There are advantages to citing the latter prooftext: It is sourced in the Chumash itself, not merely in Tehillim and, moreover, it is stated prior to this Torah reading. However, Rashi cited a verse that explicitly relates how the tribe of Yehudah actually served as a “lawgiver”; it was not merely a promise and the blessing that “the staff would not depart.” Moreover, the verse from the Torah does not explicitly state that the promise involved the entire tribe of Yehudah. On the contrary, the meaning of the promise, “The staff will not depart from Yehudah, nor the lawgiver’s rod between his legs,” is that “the exilarchs from Babylon” and “the nesi’im from Eretz Yisrael64 will descend from that tribe, i.e., it refers only to select individuals. By contrast, the phrase, “Yehudah is My lawgiver” refers to the name of the entire tribe, indicating that all its members possessed this quality. Therefore, Rashi deviates from his Midrashic sources and cites this prooftext to emphasize that neighbors affect and change each other’s inner nature.65

וְיֵשׁ לְהוֹסִיף, שֶׁעִנְיָן זֶה מֻדְגָּשׁ בְּהַשִּׁנּוּי בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י בְּהָרְאָיָה בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לִיהוּדָה שֶׁ"נַּעֲשׂוּ גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה" – שֶׁמֵּבִיא פָּסוּק מִכְּתוּבִים "שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרנ יְהוּדָה מְחוֹקְקִי"נא, דְּלֹא כְּבַתַּנְחוּמָא שֶׁמֵּבִיא "לֹא יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה וּמְחוֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו"נב, הַנֶּאֱמַר (א) בְּחוּמָשׁ, וְ(ב) לִפְנֵי פַּרְשָׁתֵנוּ – כִּי [נוֹסָף לְכָךְ שֶׁרַשִׁ"י מֵבִיא כָּתוּב שֶׁבּוֹ מְפֹרָשׁ שֶׁכֵּן הָיָה בְּפֹעַל, וְלֹא הַכָּתוּב בְּחוּמָשׁ שֶׁבּוֹ רַק הַבְטָחָה וְהַבְּרָכָה שֶׁ"לֹּא יָסוּר", הֲרֵי] בְּהַפָּסוּק בְּחוּמָשׁ לֹא מְפֹרָשׁ שֶׁזֶּהוּ בְּכָל שֵׁבֶט יְהוּדָה, דְּ"לֹא יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה וּמְחוֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו" פֵּרוּשׁוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ בָּהֶם "רָאשֵׁי גָלֻיּוֹת שֶׁבְּבָבֶל" וּ"נְשִׂיאֵי אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל"נג, וְאִלּוּ בַּפָּסוּק "יְהוּדָה מְחוֹקְקִי" הֲרֵי זֶה שְׁמוֹ שֶׁל הַשֵּׁבֶט כֻּלּוֹ, וּמִזֶּה מוּבָן שֶׁזּוֹהִי תְּכוּנָתוֹ שֶׁל כָּל שֵׁבֶט יְהוּדָה. וְלָכֵן שִׁנָּה רַשִׁ"י וְהֵבִיא כָּתוּב זֶה, לְהַדְגִּישׁ, שֶׁשְּׁכֵנוּת פּוֹעֶלֶת וּמְשַׁנָּה מַהוּתוֹ שֶׁל הַשָּׁכֵןנד.

It is possible to say that this is implied by Rashi’s precise choice of the phrase, “It will be good for the righteous and good for his neighbors,” rather than “Good fortune [will come] to the righteous and good fortune [will come] to his neighbor,” as stated in Midrash Tanchuma. The word ashrei, translated as “good fortune,” also has the connotation of “praiseworthy.”66 These terms are appropriate67 even when a person receives reward because of his righteous neighbor or because he was influenced by the conduct of his righteous neighbor. By contrast, the word tov, “good,” can also be understood as implying that he underwent an inner change so that not only will goodness befall him, but he himself will become good.

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר שֶׁזֶּהוּ גַּם דִּיּוּק הַלָּשׁוֹן בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י "טוֹב לַצַּדִּיק טוֹב לִשְׁכֵנוֹ", וְלֹא "אַשְׁרֵי לַצַּדִּיק וְאַשְׁרֵי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" (כְּבַתַּנְחוּמָא), כִּי לְשׁוֹן "אַשְׁרֵי" (מִלְּשׁוֹן אֹשֶׁר אוֹ מִלְּשׁוֹןנה שֶׁבַח) יִתָּכֵןנו גַּם כַּאֲשֶׁר מְקַבֵּל הַשְׁפָּעַת שָׂכָר עַל יְדֵי הַצַּדִּיק אוֹ שֶׁנִּשְׁפָּע מֵהַנְהָגַת הַצַּדִּיק, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן הַלָּשׁוֹן "טוֹב" כּוֹלֵל גַּם שִּׁנּוּי בְּמַהוּתוֹ וְגִדְרוֹ שֶׁנַּעֲשֶׂה "טוֹב".

When Torah and Unity are Joined


On this basis, it is possible to add further explanation using a homiletic approach. The connection between these two concepts – “It will be good for the righteous and good for his neighbors” and “Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor” – in our Torah reading does not only relate to the effect neighbors have on each other, but also to the subjects concerning which these concepts are taught. The way one can prevent involvement in dispute68 (“woe to the wicked”) is through involvement in Torah study (“it will be good for the righteous…”). Conversely, for one’s Torah study to be desirable and enable him to become great in Torah, i.e., to become one with the Torah, he must separate himself from dispute to the furthest extreme.


וְיֵשׁ לְהוֹסִיף בְּזֶה עַל דֶּרֶךְ הָרֶמֶז וְהַדְּרוּשׁ:

הַשַּׁיָּכוּת דְּב' עִנְיָנִים אֵלּוּ דְּ"טוֹב לַצַּדִּיק טוֹב לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" וְ"אוֹי לָרָשָׁע וְאוֹי לִשְׁכֵנוֹ" שֶׁבְּפַרְשָׁתֵנוּ, הוּא לֹא רַק מִצַּד גֶּדֶר עִנְיַן הַשְּׁכֵנוֹת, אֶלָּא (גַּם) מִצַּד תֹּכְנָם וְעִנְיָנָם הַמְדֻבָּר בָּהֶם: הַדֶּרֶךְ לְהִנָּצֵל וּלְהִפָּטֵר מִלְּהִמָּשֵׁךְ בְּמַחֲלֹקֶתנז ("אוֹי לָרָשָׁע"), הוּא עַל יְדֵי הָעֵסֶק בַּתּוֹרָה ("טוֹב לַצַּדִּיק כו'"). וְכֵן לְאִידָךְ, כְּדֵי שֶׁהָעֵסֶק בַּתּוֹרָה יִהְיֶה כִּדְבָעֵי, וְעַד שֶׁהָעוֹסְקִים יִהְיוּ "גְּדוֹלִים בַּתּוֹרָה", וְהַיְנוּ שֶׁיִּתְאַחֲדוּ עִם הַתּוֹרָה, הוּא דַוְקָא כַּאֲשֶׁר מִתְרַחֲקִים מִמַּחֲלֹקֶת עַד קְצֵה הָאַחֲרוֹן.

It is possible to say that this is one of the explanations of the connection between Parshas Bamidbar and the festival of Shavuos, as reflected in our Rabbis’ statement,69 Parshas Bamidbar Sinai is always read before Atzeres.” Just as in Parshas Bamidbar, both these concepts – greatness in Torah study and the need to rise above dispute – are emphasized, so too, they are both fundamental to the Giving of the Torah.

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר שֶׁזּוֹהִי גַם כֵּן מִטַּעֲמֵי הַשַּׁיָּכוּת דְּפָרָשַׁת בַּמִּדְבָּר לְחַג הַשָּׁבוּעוֹת, דִּ"לְעוֹלָם קוֹרִין פָּרָשַׁת בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי קוֹדֶם עֲצֶרֶת"נח, דִּכְמוֹ שֶׁבְּפָרָשָׁה זוֹ מְבֹאָרִים ב' עִנְיָנִים הַנַּ"ל, עַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה הוּא בְּהָעִנְיָן דְּמַתַּן תּוֹרָה:

With regard to the Giving of the Torah, our Sages emphasize,70 “The entire Torah was given solely to establish peace in the world,” i.e., to create peace and unity in a place where dispute and division could have existed. Conversely, the reason G‑d was motivated to give the Torah is indicated by the verse,71 Israel camped there opposite the mountain,” interpreted by our Sages72 to mean that, on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the Jews joined “in unity, with one heart.” This made them fit to receive the Torah, as our Sages explicitly stated:73

At the time they came to Sinai, they camped in unity, [as implied by the singular form of the verb] ויחן , “camped”… The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “Since Israel [has shown] hatred for dispute and love for peace, camping in unity, the time [has come] to give them My Torah.”

מְבֹאָר בְּחַזַ"ל בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לְמַתַּן תּוֹרָה "כָּל הַתּוֹרָה נִתְּנָה לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלוֹם בָּעוֹלָם"נט, וְהַיְנוּ לִפְעוֹל שָׁלוֹם וְאַחְדּוּת בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לִהְיוֹת מַחֲלֹקֶת וּפֵרוּד; וּלְאִידָךְ, הַסִּבָּה לִנְתִינַת הַתּוֹרָה הִיא כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּבס "וַיִּחַן שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגֶד הָהָר" (שֶׁהָיָה בְּרֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ סִיוָן), וְאָמְרוּ רַזַ"לסא דְּכַאן "הִשְׁווּ לֵב אֶחָד", וְעַל יְדֵי זֶה נַעֲשׂוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל רְאוּיִים לְקַבָּלַת הַתּוֹרָה, וְכִמְפֹרָשׁ בְּחַזַ"לסב "בִּזְמַן שֶׁבָּאוּ לְסִינַי חָנוּ חֲנִיָּה אַחַת וַיִּחַן כו' אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הוֹאִיל וְשָׂנְאוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַמַּחֲלֹקֶת וְאָהֲבוּ אֶת הַשָּׁלוֹם וְנַעֲשׂוּ חֲנִיָּה אַחַת, הֲרֵי הַשָּׁעָה שֶׁאֵתֶּן לָהֶם אֶת תּוֹרָתִי".

The combination of both these factors – the negation of dispute and greatness in Torah – results from being the neighbor of a righteous man: “It will be good for the righteous and good for his neighbor.” The Torah study of a righteous man is characterized by and leads to peace and unity.74 This is particularly true when Torah is studied for the desired intent – realizing the connection between the Torah to the Giver of the Torah.75 Therefore, being a neighbor of a righteous man and studying his Torah teachings brings about peace and unity among all those involved.

וּשְׁנֵיהֶם בְּיַחַד, בִּטּוּל הַמַּחֲלֹקֶת וְהַגַּדְלוּת בַּתּוֹרָה, בָּאִים עַל יְדֵי שְׁכֵנוּת לַצַּדִּיק, "טוֹב לַצַּדִּיק טוֹב לִשְׁכֵנוֹ",

כִּי עֵסֶק הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁל צַדִּיק הוּא בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁל שָׁלוֹם וְאַחְדּוּתסג, וּבִפְרָט לִמּוּד הַתּוֹרָה לִשְׁמָהּ, תּוֹרָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִיא קְשׁוּרָה וּמְחֻבֶּרֶת עִם נוֹתֵן הַתּוֹרָהסד, וְלָכֵן עַל יְדֵי הַשְּׁכֵנוּת לַצַּדִּיק וְלִמּוּד תּוֹרָתוֹ, הֲרֵי זֶה פּוֹעֵל שָׁלוֹם וְאַחְדּוּת בְּכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד,

Ultimately, this will bring about the true and consummate peace that will accompany the coming of Mashiach.76 He will “teach Torah to the entire nation”77 in a manner characterized by unity. As a result, “In that era, there will be no… envy or competition…”78 – not even envy or competition in the realm of holiness79 – “for the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d, as the waters cover the ocean bed.”80

וְעַד שֶׁזּוֹכִים לְשָׁלוֹם הָאֲמִתִּי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּבִיאַת מָשִׁיחַסה, שֶׁיְּלַמֵּד תּוֹרָה אֶת כָּל הָעָם כֻּלּוֹסו בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁל אַחְדּוּת, "וּבְאוֹתוֹ הַזְּמַן לֹא יִהְיֶה שָׁם כו' וְלֹא קִנְאָה וְתַחֲרוּת"סז, גַּם לֹא קִנְאָה וְתַחֲרוּת דִּקְדֻשָּׁהסח, "כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת ה' כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים"סט.

Adapted from sichos delivered on Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar, 5735 (1975), 5743 (1983), 5744 (1984), and Vav Tishrei, 5728 (1967)
Likkutei Sichos, Volume 33, P. 10ff.

(משיחות ש״פ במדבר תשל״ה, תשמ״ג, תשד״מ; ו׳ תשרי תשכ״ח)
לקוטי שיחות חלק לג במדבר ב