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The insanity of machlokes

Written by Shmuel, 25/6/2019


One of the key players of the machlokes between Moshe Rabbeinu and Korach was Oin Ben Peles. He is mentioned by name in the beginning of the parsha together with the rest of Korachs group, yet when the showdown actually took place he mysteriously disappeared.


Chazal tell us that Oins wife saved him, by convincing him with a simple yet sound logical argument to stay out of the fight.

 Her claim was “If Moshe Rabbeinu wins you loose and get nothing from it, if Korach wins you also loose and get nothing from it, so what in the world are you doing being involved in this Machloke- get out of it”.

 Oin replied that it’s too late and he can’t just leave because he is already part of the group, and when the time comes for the ultimate showdown his friends will come fetch him.

To this she replied that she will take care of it.


When Oins friends came to get him they found his wife sitting at the entrance of the tent with her hair uncovered. The immodest scene scared them off thereby saving Oin from the unfortunate fate that befell Korach and the rest of his group.


Chazal praise Oins wife and attribute to her the pasuk of “Chochmas Nashim bonsah Baysah” loosely translated it mean that “the wisdom of women built her home”.

The great Gaon R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz asks: What is so brilliant about what Oins wife said? It’s very simple logic; anyone could have come up with such a claim!?


He answers that there is a deep rooted behavior of the human psyche that when one is engaged in a machlokes his ability to think rationally is affected to the point of insanity; the mind does not function like it usually does. The nature of machlokes is to sweep people of their feet and cause them to act totally irrational. Anyone that can think straight and logical during a Machlokes is Brilliant and praise worthy.

Oins wife was able to dis-attach from the machlokes raging around her and think clearly- that is brilliant.

This also explains the term that is often times herd from people that were involved in a machlokes and then got out of it: “I can believe I said that, I can’t believe I did that, what was I thinking!?

The reality is, that they were actually in a certain form of insanity at the time of the machlokes.

If the generation that stood at the foot of Har Sinai was affected so negatively by a machlokes to the point of insanity, how much more so do we need to be careful to avoid machlokes.

However, if we do find ourselves involved in a machlokes, even if we are sure that it’s leshem shomayim, we have to recognize that we need someone from the outside to guide and help us, so that we make the right (logical and rational) decisions- someone who is not involved and not tainted by what is going on.

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