Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 14, v. 2: "Zose ti'h'yeh toras ha'metzora" - This shall be the law of the afflicted one - What is meant by "ti'h'yeh"?

2) Ch. 14, v. 2: "Vose ti'h'yeh toras homtzora" - This shall be the law of the afflicted person - The gemara Arochin 16b says that "tzoraas" comes upon a person who speaks loshon hora. The medrash relates that there was a peddler who sold his wares in the area of Tzipori and one day he announced, "Who wants to purchase the elixir of life? Who wants to purchase the elixir of life?" People scoffed at him, except for Rabbi Yanai. He offered to purchase it. The peddler said that he did not have Rabbi Yanai in mind, as he had no need for this elixir. Rabbi Yanai pressed him to reveal his intention and the peddler showed him the verses in T'hilim, "Mi ho'ish hechofetz chaim, N'tzor l'shoncho mei'ro" (34:14,15). Rabbi Yanai responded that he had read these verses many times, but never fathomed their intent in this manner. How is it that a simple peddler grasped the depths of the message and Rabbi Yanai didn't?

3) Ch. 14, v. 2: "V'huvo el haKohein" - And he shall be brought to the Kohein - We similarly find in the previous parsha 13:2, "v'huvo el Aharon haKohein." There the Ibn Ezra says that "he shall be brought" rather than "u'vo el haKohein" - and he shall come to the Kohein - teaches us that if he doesn't go of his own volition, others who see his affliction are required to bring him even against his will, because this is not just a spiritual malady but also a physical sickness that is contagious.

The Ibn Ezra on our verse says that the Torah again tells us just as it has expressed by its "companionS" (referring to 13:2 and 13:9) that when he is cured of his affliction he is to be "brought," - "v'huvo" - even against his will, because there is the likelihood that he is very reluctant to come to the Kohein with the required sacrifices, as they might cost a tidy sum.

We find the same words, "v'huvo el haKohein" in 13:9, as just mentioned. There too, the Ibn Ezra says that this term is the same as "its companion," meaning verse 2. However, there he offers no explanation for "forcing" the afflicted person to appear in front of the Kohein. How can we explain the need for "forcing" again in that verse?

4) Ch. 14, v. 6: "V'toval osom v'eis hatzipore hachayoh b'dam hatzipore hash'chutoh" - And he shall immerse them and the live bird in the blood of the slaughtered bird - Besides this procedure being a statute and also symbolic of his sin(s), what practical matter is attained by dipping the live bird into this mixture?

5) Ch. 14, v. 9: " Es rosho v'es z'kono v'eis gabose einov " - His head and his beard and his eyebrows - The Torah actually requires that he shave all his hair, so why are these three places specified?



We have a haughty person (see gemara Arochin 16a) who is willing to lower his stature and appear in front of a Kohein to guide him on his path back to purity and humility. The verse says, "ti'h'yeh," in the future tense, to express the hope that he will remain with this attitude in the future. (Beis Yisroel of Gur)


It is exactly because Rabbi Yanai was free of the sin of loshon hora. The peddler represents a person who has spoken much loshon hora. His occupation is the embodiment of loshon hora to the point that the Torah uses a peddler as a synonym for loshon hora/r'chilus, "Lo seileich ROCHIL b'a'mecho" (Vayikra 19:16). Rashi explains that just as a peddler goes from house to house, purchasing things cheaply and selling them in other houses, so too, a baal loshon hora picks up tidbits of information here and drops them off there. The peddler spoke much loshon hora and later realized that he caused much damage, to himself, the recipient of the information, and lastly, to the person he spoke about. When he turned a leaf he literally felt that he had a new lease on life. He readily grasped the meaning of these words in T'hilim. (Rabbi Mordechai Yoseif Admor of Ishbitz)

It is interesting to note that the concept of an organized work on the laws of loshon hora and r'chilus was so revolutionary that the Chofetz Chaim was actually watched when he came to some leading Rabbis of his generation for an approbation on his works. They had people engage him in conversation, attempting to lead him into loshon hora. They were not ready to give an approbation on a work, even though it dazzled them, if its author was not the man of the book itself. Similarly, when it came time to distribute Shmiras Haloshon and Chofetz Chaim, they weren't immediately on the best-seller list. The Holy Chofetz Chaim literally went from community to community peddling his magnum opus. Perhaps his peddling, "holeich rochil," was a sort of spiritual counter-balance to the sin of "holeich rochil." (Nirreh li)


Perhaps this can be explained after taking note of a slight difference between the way the Torah describes the affliction in verse 2 and verse 9. In verse 2 the Torah says that the affliction is in the "skin of his flesh," while in verse 9 the verse says that it is in the person, "ki si'h'yeh b'odom." Perhaps the difference is that in verse 2 we have a person who feels that the affliction is only skin deep, "v'ore b'soro," i.e. he does not take it seriously. He surely has to be brought to the Kohein. Verse 9 discusses someone who realizes the gravity of the matter. For him the "nega" is deeply imbedded, "ki si'h'yeh b'odom." The Torah advises that even he has to be brought, i.e. it is the responsibility of the community to make sure that he is seen by a Kohein. Had the verse only said "v'huvo" in verse 9 I might have thought that there is no point in bringing a person who is not impressed with the "nega" and is reluctant to go of his own volition to the Kohein, as it is unlikely that he will repent, and the "nega" would probably remain in spite of outside efforts. (n.l.)


The Chizkuni says that when the live bird is let free, "v'shilach es hatzipore hachayoh al pnei haso'deh," it will fly back to birds of its species. They will see that it has different colouring than they have and will kill it. He says that this has the advantage of not having another metzora bringing it as his offering, which is disqualified, as per the verse "v'chi'per OLOV" (verse 20), that it should only be used for HIM and not for another person.

Not only was one bird killed directly, "v'shochat es hatzipore ho'echos" (verse 5), but another one was indirectly killed. Symbolically, this is exactly like the result of loshon hora. Not only is the victim of the negative talk harmed, but there is usually the spin-off affect of others hearing it, also included in loshon hora, and relating to more and more people, causing more and more untold misery. (Nirreh li)


1) The gemara Sotoh 16a derives through a "klal ufrat uchlal" exactly what does and what doesn't require shaving.

2) These three areas symbolize the causes for the affliction. His head represents his haughtiness, his beard, which surrounds his mouth, his speaking loshon hora, and his eyebrows, his stingy eyes, "tzoras ayin." (Kli Yokor)



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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