APRIL 28-29, 2000 5 IYAR 5761
- Rabbi Reuven Semah
"If a person will have on the skin of his flesh a s'et-blemish" (Vayikra 13:2)
This week, we have a double perashah that deals with the laws of leprosy blemishes. These blemishes occur on one's body, clothing and even on the walls of his home. Our Sages teach us that these blemishes, although physical in appearance, have a spiritual cause. These blemishes are caused by violations of the laws of speech, such as lashon hara. Regarding these blemishes, we find an interesting departure from the way the Torah treats the sinner. Usually there is a great "cover-up" and protection of the identity of the sinner. For instance, when the Israelites go to war, the Torah enumerates a number of exemptions to be given out to the people. If a person recently got married, built a new house, or planted a new vineyard, he would be free from service if they didn't yet have a chance to enjoy these new milestones. Another person who is exempt is one who is afraid of any sins that he might have done that could cause his demise during the conflict in battle. Our Sages tell us that all of the exemptions are only a cover-up for the sinner. If someone doesn't show up to the battle, no one would know if the reason is because of sins or because of one of the other exemptions. Hence we see the extent that Hashem goes out of his way to protect the sinner. However, when the person sins with lashon hara, his body or his garment or his home gets a blemish. The blemish is something that everyone sees and knows about. Why is that?
Rabbi Nissan Alpert explains: The nature of the sin of lashon hara is that the speaker reveals the hidden blemishes of the person about whom he is speaking, and brings them out in the open. Therefore Hashem deals with him measure for measure and reveals the speaker's blemish. In addition, the speaker of slander does his deed in private, in hiding, but in public gives the appearance that he is the person's best friend. Even though he acts like a friend in front of the person, he speaks against him in private. Therefore Hashem reveals his bad trait of slandering in order that others will be able to protect themselves from him.
From this we see how severe the sin of slander is. Hashem is usually so careful to protect, but now he reveals it all. May we all be saved from this horrible habit of lashon hara.
- Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"For the person being purified there shall be taken two live clean birds" (Vayikra 14:4)
The "leper," one who has sara'at, after going to the Kohen and determining that his condition is cured, must bring certain sacrifices to purify himself. Among these are two birds, one which is slaughtered and one which is dipped in the blood of the slaughtered one and sent away. The Rabbis tell us that the birds, which chirp all the time, symbolize the cause of his leprosy to begin with. Most people are not careful with the way they speak, and end up speaking lashon hara, gossip, which brings on leprosy. The problem with many is that not only are they not careful with words, but they just chatter away, just like birds! If one constantly and continuously prattles on, with no thought to the fact that each word must be accounted for, he's guaranteed to get leprosy! So his purification is the bringing of birds, which remind him that as a human being, he must be watchful of his words and not chatter away without control! Shabbat Shalom.
"He should be brought to Aharon the Kohen or to one of his sons the Kohanim" (Vayikra 13:2)
Since every Kohen is qualified to rule on leprosy, why is Aharon specified in addition to all the other Kohanim?
Aharon epitomized loving and pursuing peace. When he knew of a quarreling family or friends he would work tirelessly to reconcile them. At times it would be necessary to conceal information or even deviate somewhat from the truth. He would tell each estranged friend of the other's deep regrets and desire to renew the friendship.
Leprosy is caused through lashon hara - evil talk against a person. Often, a tale-bearer justifies his action claiming that he is actually performing a misvah by telling the truth motivated by love and concern. Thus, he rationalizes that he will cause no harm and indeed, the individual he spoke about will ultimately rectify his ways.
Therefore, the Torah prescribes bringing the leper to Aharon to learn that the greatest lover of peace did not accomplish it through lashon hara. It is also a message that Hashem prefers the ways of Aharon, which bring peace, over the "truth" of the tale-bearer, which destroys families and relationships. (Vedibarta Bam)
This week's Haftarah: Melachim II 7:3-20.
This haftarah tells about four Jewish people with leprosy who were sent out of the Jewish camp, as the law required in our perashah. At the time, the nation of Aram was at war with Israel. However, the four men, displaying the selfishness that put them in this situation in the first place, decided to turn themselves over to Aram. In the end, like the healed leper in our perashah, they learned to put the welfare of their fellow Jews ahead of their own needs, and went to inform the Jews that Aram had fled.
Answer to Pop Quiz: 40 days after having a boy, 80 days after having a girl.
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