Thursday, April 19, 2007

Parshas Tazria - Metzora 5767

To see last year's Divrei Torah on Tazria - Metzora click here and here.

נֶגַע צָרַעַת, כִּי תִהְיֶה בְּאָדָם; וְהוּבָא, אֶל-הַכּהֵן. וְרָאָה הַכּהֵן, וְהִנֵּה שְׂאֵת-לְבָנָה בָּעוֹר, וְהִיא, הָפְכָה שֵׂעָר לָבָן; וּמִחְיַת בָּשָׂר חַי, בַּשְׂאֵת. צָרַעַת נוֹשֶׁנֶת הִוא בְּעוֹר בְּשָׂרוֹ, וְטִמְּאוֹ הַכּהֵן: לא יַסְגִּרֶנּוּ, כִּי טָמֵא הוּא. וְאִם-פָּרוֹחַ תִּפְרַח הַצָּרַעַת, בָּעוֹר, וְכִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֵת כָּל-עוֹר הַנֶּגַע, מֵראשׁוֹ וְעַד-רַגְלָיו--לְכָל-מַרְאֵה, עֵינֵי הַכּהֵן. וְרָאָה הַכּהֵן, וְהִנֵּה כִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֶת-כָּל-בְּשָׂרוֹ--וְטִהַר, אֶת-הַנָּגַע: כֻּלּוֹ הָפַךְ לָבָן, טָהוֹר הוּא.

"When there is a skin-eruption of tzora'as on a person he shall be brought to the kohein. The kohein shall see and behold! there is an intensely white spot on the skin and it has turned the hair white or there is healthy flesh in the spot of intense whiteness,it is an old tzora'as in the skin of his body and the kohein shall declare him unclean he shall not confine him, since he is [obviously] unclean. And if the tzora'as sprouts on the skin and if the tzora'as covered the entire skin of the [one affected by] the eruption from his head until his feet to the extent that the kohein can see. The kohein shall see and behold! the tzora'as has covered all of his body, he shall declare the skin-eruption to be cleansed, it has turned completely white, he is clean." Sefer Vayikra, 13:9-13

The Torah here starts off by telling us that if a person sees what appears to be a Tzaraas affliction on his skin, he should go see the Kohein to be deemed Tameh/impure. Paradoxically, however, the Torah goes on to explain that in a case where the affliction covers the entire body, the Kohein shall render the person Tahor/pure. One would think that if in a case where only a portion of the body is afflicted the body is rendered impure, certainly, if the entire body is covered the body the person should be rendered impure as well. However, this isn't the case.

The Ibn Ezra offers pashut p'shat/a simple understanding by saying that when the affliction is on the entire body it is only on the surface. However, when it is isolated to one spot it goes much deeper and will actually take much longer to heal than in a case where it covered the whole body. R' Baruch Simon wants to learn out a Mussar Haskeil from this and he says that often times people spread themselves too thin. When you do this, as the term suggests, it's impossible to examine all of those matters at a proper depth. However, when one focuses his strengths on one, isolated, thing at a time (like the Tzaraas affliction only affecting one piece of the skin), one can give proper depth and attention to that matter, leading to that thing have a longer lasting impact. For instance, it is said that the Brisker Rav would say that he was only able to be holding in 1 Sugya at a time. In everything we do in Yiddishkeit, whether it be learning, becoming more religious, etc, one must be sure not to do too many things at once, for the greatest chance that that thing will stick.

Furthermore, the Gemara in Sanhedrin (97a) states that Moshiach will not come until the whole world is converted to the beliefs of the heretics, and it quotes our pasuk of " has turned completely white; he is clean" (ibid 13:13), as the source. Rashi there explains that just as the affliction spread across the entire body and the person is rendered pure, so too when all of the world is converted to heretic beliefs, the world is ready for a Geulah/redemption. It, however, is still unclear why only at this point, when the world has reached such a low level, will it be ready for redemption; and it remains unclear what the connection is to our case of Tzaraas.

Rav Shimon Schwab in his "Meayin Beis haShoeva" explains that Tumah cannot sustain itself; rather, it gets its nourishment from Taharah/purity. Only when there is Taharah in the world is it possible for Tumah to exist - without it, it ceases to exist. Thus, in our case of Tzaraas, when the affliction spreads over the entire body, the Tumah cannot sustain itself, as it has no purity to get nourishment from; but when it is only on a portion of the body, Tumah can exist. He gives another example of this found in the Chumash, when the Miraglim/spies preface their slanderous comments about Eretz Yisrael with the true statement that it is a "Eretz Chalav u'dvash." He explains that the fact that their slanderous comments were made together with true ones allowed the slanderous ones to have such a deep impact. With this we can also understand the statement regarding the Geulah: when the world steeps to such a low level where no Taharah remains, the Tumah will have no nourishmeant, leaving the world ready for the Geulah.

In life, when we make decisions, we should be careful that we are doing things for purely the right reasons. One may do something that, on the surface, may be the right decision; however, he may be doing for some political, social, or other reason. When one justifies his/her actions when there may be some ulterior motives, they are giving the Tumah/impurity nourishment to feed off of. One shouldn't make a decision because it is a popular one in the community, or what looks good, or what people will say. Rather, in order for a decision to be lasting, one should be careful that the decision has a Yanika shel Emes/nourishment of truth.


Blogger Isaac said...

You left out the part about the glasses.

8:45 AM, April 23, 2007

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Not sure I know what you're referring to. Perhaps it's something in the shiur that I missed?

8:54 AM, April 23, 2007

Blogger Isaac said...

Probably not. It had something to do with "shtotty."

10:10 AM, April 23, 2007


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