The Gemara says that Korach's guests flattered him when he gave them food & drink.
(Chanifah, often translated as flattery, means to tell someone his deeds are okay when he does something wrong. It's forbidden by the Torah.)
What's the connection?
Meal time is a very influential time.
This is a well-known aspect of the Shabbat meals, which not only consist of scrumptious food, but also lots of stories, divrei Torah, and holy songs.
People tend to listen more during a meal.
We're less distracted & more malleable with full bellies.
If we're eating by someone, we also feel indebted to our host and therefore, we praise his dvar Torah, his jokes, and his singing, even if they're all far from impressive.
We're also less likely to criticize, no matter how offensive or foolish we find the host's words.
And that's basically how Korach got his foot in the door to criticizing Moshe Rabbeinu:
He did so as the host.
How to Respond to Your Host's Lashon Hara
Or you should suddenly "remember" that you left the faucet on in your apartment and that it's most likely flooding, so you need to run back and take care of things.
At the very least, you shouldn't nod or smile or look at him while he's speaking this way.
You do your best not listen at all.
Shackled by Parnassah & the Agenda of Others
Our bechirah (ability to choose) is one of the biggest gifts Hashem has given us.
Even in the Paradise of the Afterlife, Rav Miller asserts we will miss that ability to choose good.
Right now, bechirah is a big challenge. Our yetzer hara pulls us away from choosing wisely.
Yet every time we make the right decision, we amass unfathomable reward.
But a man dependent on others for his needs?
That interferes with his bechirah.
Rav Miller expands this to include being dependent on a person or an organization for your livelihood.
Starting on page 9, he talks about how even the most idealistic pulpit rabbi descends in his spiritual level because he's dependent on more Olam-Hazeh-oriented people for his parnassah.
This is a bigger problem than many people realize.
I was a rebbetzin twice, once for a small shul congregation and another time as part of a kiruv kollel.
I saw this first hand. Our shul president was a barely religious guy with really snarly middot. In addition to being a total am ha'aretz, he was also extremely stubborn & controlling. Being under his control was awful because he lacked empathy.
My husband dealt with him better than anyone else ever had, but ultimately, we could not manage to live this way.
Fortunately, the congregants themselves were very likable, and that was the good part of the job.
I saw other situations, plus heard stories, and believe me, it's very hard to maintain your integrity and idealism in this position.
Sometimes, the rabbis with the highest integrity get fired because those are the ones who won't compromise (and then they find MUCH better jobs later, baruch Hashem).
Shackled by Gashmiut
I know people who work for these magazines and many of them are fine, idealistic, sincere Jews.
But not all of them. And when they accept the ads, it shackles the entire staff to an extent.
Anyway, that's what happened with Korach's followers.
He gave them cake and they were his.
Be Loyal, Not Americanized
Conversely, Rav Miller emphasizes that if a REAL tzaddik wishes for you to eat at his table, then you can forget about everything you read until now because to be the tzaddik's "slave" is a good thing.
You'll received tons of good influence by being shackled to a tzaddik.
But we're all eating from the table of others in another sense.
We're eating from the table of America or Europe or Australia or wherever we are in chu"l. And in Eretz Yisrael, we're unfortunately eating from the table of Marxists and heretics.
(Some charedi groups will not accept any money from the Israeli government. This is why.)
In whatever country we live, we benefit from the services.
I know that I grew up thinking that firemen, policemen, and American soldiers are our heroes.
And they are to a certain extent. A lot of us hold fondness for the people who serve us, especially for the people who come to our aide in our time of need.
We're indebted to them.
That's very real.
Because Rav Miller spent time in Slabodka where he witnessed very real discrimination against Jews with absolutely no legal recourse, he was more aware of how much better America is than many other places.
For all its faults, America has been a great places for Jews. Enormous Torah communities with their wide-ranging chessed not only grow but have thrived in America.
This is one reason why Rav Miller insisted on hanging an American flag outside his home on American Independence Day.
An American Jew must be loyal to the country that allowed him to not only remain a Jew, but enabled him to grow in his Yiddishkeit.
What Changed in 50 Years?
He notes that 50 years ago, he didn't need to talk about displaying the American flag.
But nowadays, with all the secular liberal agendas flying around, it has become an issue.
And it affects the frum community too because the same mayor who allows money for yeshivot also wishes to support a toeva lifestyle for his citizens.
So frum Jews don't want to stop voting for him even though he is destroying the country.
And to be fair, at this point, you don't see much difference between the Democrat or the Republican candidate. On social issues, they're often the same.
But it was always like that; it built up over time.
And now everyone is stuck.
Eat from Hashem's Table
Then he goes on with a very interesting description of how even frum Jewry has been affected by Americanization.
Loyalty is excellent. Becoming Americanized is not good for a frum Jew.
We must maintain the awareness that everything we have is from Hashem.
We are eating from Hashem's Table.
And that's how we avoid getting caught up in the community of Korach.