Beardless Righteousness

Kli Yakar Numbers: Korach

Beardless Righteousness

Judaism has generally venerated old bearded men. The righteous aged scholar with a lifetime of wisdom is the apex of the Jewish communal life-cycle. There is an ancient belief that these righteous individuals are a major force for good in our lives. The Kli Yakar traces the source of this belief to this week’s Torah portion. Though the personality upon whom this doctrine is based, was not bearded, nor even male.

The source is Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron (see Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Moed Katan 28a). After Miriam dies, the well of water that miraculously accompanied the Children of Israel throughout their desert journey, disappears. This occurred apparently to highlight the connection between the well and this righteous woman.

The Kli Yakar (Numbers 20:2) explains that the righteous individual accomplishes four different things for her or his generation:

      1. Nourisher”: Just as in Miriam’s Well, the righteous are believed to be a source of our sustenance – not only spiritual, but even physical.
      2. Teacher: The righteous guide us in how to live our lives.
      3. Shielder”: In some sense, the righteous protect us from negative events.
      4. Forgiveness at Death: The death of the righteous individual provides atonement at some level to the generation.

An impressive list of effects that the righteous accomplish.

May we find such people and attach ourselves to them.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the memory of Berel Schwartzblatt of Cedarhurst, NY. A righteous and sweet singer of Israel, we will always remember his song.

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