APRIL 4-5, 2008 29 ADAR II 5768
"And the affliction's appearance is deeper than the skin of his flesh" (Vayikra 13:3)
Our perashah discusses the illness called sara'at, which appears as a discoloration of the skin. Our Sages teach us that this illness is connected to a social problem. This illness can come from a person speaking evil about others. The Torah tells us that the skin blemish appears deep. The blemish looks deeper than the skin. This deep look tells us that the problem is deep inside the person. He has a character flaw which causes him to speak about people. If the person looks down at people and finds fault in others, he will always have a problem of speaking bad of others. The Torah gives the remedy. First it says: He is to call out, "Impure! Impure!" (13:45). The person must get out of denial and declare that he is impure. He must realize he has a deep problem, which makes him speak ill of others. Next, "He shall stay in isolation, his dwelling shall be outside the camp" (13:46). He must sit alone and realize that in order to live with people properly, he needs to change his outlook of people. After this therapy is applied, his skin will return to normal. This teaches us the fundamental idea that one cannot conquer the problem of talking about others without changing the deeper problem of attitude.
Today we don't have sara'at, but our Sages tell us that even today, all physical ailments are rooted in spiritual problems and only through repentance can we hope to be healed even today. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
The perashah tells us that when certain sins were committed, a plague would affect either the homes, the garments or the skin of the Jewish people. Although this seems like a severe punishment, we must realize that all punishments are merely signals to us to examine our ways and improve our conduct.
Once, the owner of a large factory wanted to hire an experienced engineer. He advertised in all the trade journals and announced the time and place to interview for the job. Many candidates turned up at the designated time, but the owner failed to appear. Hours passed. The candidates grew annoyed and began to shout in anger. Only then did the owner come out calmly from his office to address the crowd. He said, "I don't know what you are angry about. You have been waiting in vain. Two hours ago, at the exact time that I had set, I sat in my office and began tapping out signals in Morse Code indicating that anyone who understood me should come into my office for an interview. Only one of you picked up my message and entered my office. He is the one whom I have chosen for the job. The rest have failed the test."
We know that Hashem is All-Merciful and loves us like a father loves his children. Very often, we get "signals" sent to us, some in the form of punishments. Punishments don't only mean drastic things, G-d forbid. Rather, they can also include inconveniences, minor frustrations and the regular ups and downs of everyday life. We must learn to recognize these signals from Hashem and focus on their meaning and their intent. This way we will live up to our status as the "Chosen People." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And the Kohen shall see him on the seventh day" (Vayikra 13:5)
The Torah requires a Kohen to be the one to make the decision about whether a person is afflicted with sara'at. This is because the Kohanim were spiritual people who taught wisdom to others. They would be able to advise those afflicted to check through their behavior and to correct their faults. They would also teach the person how to pray to Hashem for help. Moreover, the Kohanim themselves would pray for the welfare of the person.
This is a lesson for someone who finds that Hashem has sent him an affliction. Find a spiritual guide who will be able to point out areas in which you can improve yourself, ask him for advice on what to pray for and ask him to pray for you. Those who follow this procedure will gain much from their suffering. (Growth through Torah)
"When there is a plague of leprosy on a man he shall be brought to the Kohen." (Vayikra 13:9)
Even if the stricken person is a Kohen himself, he must go to another Kohen to be examined. This follows the principle in the Mishnah (Nega'im): "All plagues are seen by a person except for his own plagues." A person's nature is always to see the deficiencies in other people, but he tends to overlook his own faults. It is very hard for a person to be objective when evaluating himself. This is why the leper had to go to the Kohen even if he himself was a Kohen. Similarly, we should all look to others for constructive criticism, because it is very hard for us to admit our shortcomings. It is told that even the Vilna Gaon hired the Dubno Maggid specifically to watch his every action and correct him when necessary. How much more so does each of us need to be open to words of mussar. (Tallelei Orot)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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