We have just begun the month of Tamuz. It is taught that this month — תמוז, serves as an acronym for the sentiment — זמני תשובה ממשמשין ובאין — the season of repentance is materializing and approaching.
In three months, we will be blowing the Shofar. We will be reciting seven times, one of the chapters of Tehillim composed by the ‘sons of Korach’.
The late great Posek and leader, Rav Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, cites a Midrash that describes how Moshe and all the other great sages came forward to hear the שיר ידידות — song of endearment, the sons of Korach expressed after being swallowed up into the earth, and although poised to fall into the gates of Gehinom, aroused themselves at the last minute to repent and sing this most exquisite ‘song of endearment’, saving themselves from doom. (שוחר טוב מה ב)
As we stand at the brink of judgment on Rosh Hashana, the Rav adds, is there any better reminder that we too, no matter how far we have fallen, can achieve a favorable outcome as well?
The Tosfos Yom Tov avers that the very earth itself ‘uttered words’ informing the masses ‘that they and all that was theirs descended alive to the pit’, to their lowest level.
He interprets the ambiguous verse that depicts how ‘all Israel that was around them fled — לקולם — toward their sound, for they said, “lest the earth swallow us!”’ — literally, since they were running to hear the message being spoken by the earth.
Perhaps considering the previous Midrash, we can suggest it might alternately refer to the sweet song of endearment that represented their achieving repentance and thus extolling the love they sensed from G-d who allowed them to survive. The masses too, realized that they could, and should now repent ‘lest the earth swallow us’.
The Talmud indicates that they also sang another שירה— song, and repeat it every thirty days, משה אמת ותורתו אמת ואנו בדאין — Moshe and his Torah is true, and we are liars. (סנהדרין קי:)
Apparently, we have three messages, one spoken by the ‘mouth’ of the earth; Psalm 24, a song of endearment, authored by the sons of Korach; and the song of Moshe and the Torah is true.
Are these coincidental or might there be a thread that courses through them?
In Pirkei Shira it records the ‘song of the earth’. Two verses are mentioned.
G-d’s is the earth and all its fullness. (תהלים כד א)
מכנף הארץ — From the edge of the earth we have heard songs.(ישעיה כד טז)
The Talmud tells us that when Kayin spilled Hevel’s blood the earth swallowed it up. Since that moment the earth was instructed to cease from singing its ‘song’. Although the verse states that the earth still ‘sings’ from its ‘edge’, the Talmud explains that it nevertheless does not express it through its ‘mouth’. (סנהדרין לז:)
Creation in its original intention sings loudly, to those who are attuned to its message, ‘G-d’s is the earth and its fullness...’
When man though abuses his instrument of communication — his mouth — using it as a tool of deception, disguising his true intention to lure others into his control, the earth ceases its declaration of G-d’s omnipresence. When man deludes himself to think G-d does not control and take to task his every thought and action, G-d in turns disguises Himself and no longer ‘apparent’.
The Ohr Hachaim HaKadosh suggests that this ‘sin’ of the earth swallowing the blood of Hevel found its tikkun when it Korach and his cohorts. Korach as well, sought to use the power of false communication to lure the people to his cause, blinded by his ambition from realizing ‘G-d’s is the earth and its fullness...’
The children of Korach at that moment of truth finally ‘got it’ and proceeded to extol that very first ‘song’ of the earth — that only when we live within the reality of ‘Moshe and his Torah’s truth’, utilizing it as the guide for all that we endeavor, can we bring the world back to its original glory and joy.
We must wait until the final redemption to hear the very earth return to its full expression. Until then we must be attentive to the subtleties of providence, observing, perhaps from a distance, how G-d runs every facet of creation.
We can only pick up that frequency if we adhere to a life of truth, as defined by the Torah of Moshe, not a life filled with the deception of liars and phonies, who foolishly delude others, and more significantly themselves, that they can determine their fate through their own devices.
Only then will we sense the שיר ידידות, a most exquisite connection to Hashem and His universe that is filled with friendship and endearment.
צבי יהודה טייכמאן