The kohein is the paradigm of the ish chessed, so we understand why it is
the kohein goes out to the metzorah after his nega heals and declare him
But it is also the kohein
who examines the nega to begin with and if need be declares it tamei.
Why does this job fall to the kohein to
Sefas Emes answers that not only is becoming healed a chessed of Hashem, but
being afflicted is chasdei Hashem as well.
There is so much cooking inside a person that
he/she sometimes doesn’t even realize all the negativity boiling inside.
The idea behind tzara’as is that what’s inside
becomes apparent on the outside so that it can no longer be ignored – it’s a
wakeup call to do teshuvah. Imagine G-d forbid i
f a person had some sickness that he/she was unaware of.
If untreated, it could prove fatal, but with
the proper care it could be cured. That individual would undoubtedly thank the
doctor who discovered the problem and put them on the path to recovery!
Getting an opportunity to mend one’s ways and
have a kapparah, even if it takes some work and is painful for a period of time, is something to be
The gemara (Brachos 5) writes that sometimes nega’im are yisurim shel
ahavah, sometimes not, depending on whether you live in Eretz Yisrael or
The Netziv learns (not like
Rashi) that it is in Eretz Yisrael where the metzora is subjected to the greater
yisurim of being kicked out of his home in a walled city that the punishment
is one of ahavah, because it is by going through that bit of suffering that one
can achieve kapparah.
The punishment of tzara’as is caused by the sin of lashon ha’ra. Rashi comments on the pasuk of “Zachor es asher asah Hashem Elokecha l’Miriam b’derech b’tzeischem m’Mitzrayim”
that we are supposed
to remember that Miriam was punished for this sin of speaking lashon ha’ra and learn
from this episode to avoid evil gossip.
did the Torah not simply tell us directly “Don’t speak lashon ha’ra?”
And why does the Torah include not only what happened, but also when it happened, “b’derech b’tzeischem
m’Mitzrayim,” right after we left Egypt?
What we are supposed to be remembering when we think about that episde with Miriam,
explains the Sefas Emes, is not the issur of lashon ha’ra or the threat of
punishment, but rather the “bracha” of tzara’as.
Even in our national infancy, right after we
left Egypt, the Jewish people were blessed with an intolerance for sin.
It’s like we break out and have an allergic
reaction to lashon ha’ra.
You can be the
biggest tzadik like Miriam, but you can’t cover it up – to the contrary, the
stronger your reaction will be.
non-Jew will not get tzara’as because they lack that same level of holiness
that we have and therefore don't have that adverse reation to sin.
is not reminding us that G-d gives us patches; the Torah is reminding us of how
special we are.
“V’hizartem es Bnei Yisrael m’tumasam
” – the Sefas Emes
writes that this word of “v’hizartem
” may not only mean warn, but may come from
the same root as “nezer
,” a crown.
fact that we can suffer tumah is a crown on our heads, a badge of honor.
This week we will aso be reading parshas hachodesh.
Rashi writes in that parsha (12:6) that when
it came time for the geulah, Hashem saw that Bnei Yisrael lacked the zechus of
any mitzvos and so he gave them the mitzvos of milah and korban Pesach.
The Shem m’Shmuel asks: but the
Navi Yirmiyahu praises Bnei Yisrael for the love of Hashem they
exhibited at the time of yetzi’as Mitzrayim – “Lechteich acharay bamidbar b’eretz
How do we reconcile the
picture of Bnei Yisrael as lacking any zechuyos with the picture of a people so
filled with ahavhas Hashem and emunah that they walked into the desert with
Midrashim offer two mashalim for this mitzvah of parshas
One Midrash compares G-d’s
giving us control over the calendar to a king who waited for his son to mature
and then bestowed his treasure on him.
Another Midrash compares the gift to a husband who gave an engagement
gift to his bride.
What we have now is
but a taste of the gifts we will receive in the days of Moshiach, when the
marriage of Klal Yisrael to Hashem is completed.
What’s the difference between these two
A son does not need to earn
the right to that name – it is his by birth.
The person we choose as our spouse, on the other hand has earned their
place at our side by virtue of shared interests, companionship, and love.
Klal Yisrael’s relationship with G-d operates
on two levels.
On the one hand, “B’ni
bechori Yisrael,” no matter what we do.
the other hand, we are expected to earn that closeness to G-d through Torah and
mitzvos. (See this shiur by R' Yehoshua Shapira for a more complete analysis.)
“Lechteich acharai bamidbar…” The love of G-d was already
present within the hearts of Bnei Yisrael.
The love of a parent for a child is always there, no matter how distant the relationship. However, like the love of a husband and wife that grows and develops as they invest in their relationship, the zechus of mitzvos was necessary for us to allow that love to flourish and express itself.
At the beginning of Sefer Shmos, when Moshe heard that word
was being spread that he killed a Mitzri guard, he said to himself (Rashi Shmos 2:14) that he now
knows why the Jewish people were suffering in exile. The sin of speaking lashon ha’ra, thought
Moshe, is part of the Jewish character; therefore, they deserve galus.
Moshe got it
backwards. The Jewish character is
innately holy and pure. We are "B'ni bechori." It’s only
because we are stuck in galus, because our true character cannot express itself, that we sink to sinning. Lashon ha'ra is not the cause of our galus; galus is the cause of our lashon ha'ra. “Zachor es asher asah Hashem… l’Miriam b’derech
b’tzeischem m’Mitzrayim.” Once Mitzrayim is left behind, once we use the tools of Torah and mitzvos to bring out who we truly are, then the Jewish
character shines and our souls no longer tolerare those sins.
(Side note: R' Micha Berger commented to a post earlier in the week that it would be a nice idea to compile links to the websites that have torah from the chardal/dati-leumi world. I've started putting together a list in the side bar. Suggestions for sites to list are welcome. I don't think I need to cover the ones everyone knows about, e.g. the Gush VBM. Some of the sites I listed (e.g. Yeshivat Birkat Moshe) have vast libraries of shiurim, others (e.g. Har HaMor) don't have a lot and are updated very infrequently, but I included them anyway. Consider this a work in progress.)