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by Daneal Weiner
Based on the Torah of Rav Moshe Wolfson.
speaks about 4 afflictions. The S'ais, Sapachas, Baheres and Negah Tsara'as. You might be thinking, isn't Negah Tsara'as a general category of the other three? Well, the Midrash brings down these 4 and compares them to the 4 kingdoms which exiled Israel. Negah Tsara'as, which seems like a general category of the other three, correlates to Edom, this final exile which is a combination of the previous three.
The haftorah read this Shabbos, were it not Rosh Chodesh- the New Month is the one for Parshas Metsorah from the book Melachim- Kings, the 4th book in the Prophets. It starts, "Four men with tsara'as..."
Lot’s of 4’s. But this is not 4 now. [Hey, who threw that?]
Parshas Tazria opens informing that a woman who conceives and gives birth to a male is tomay- spiritually impure, 7 days and on the 8th day he'll circumcised the flesh of his foreskin. A few verses later it says for giving birth to a girl the mother is tomay 2 weeks. Why is the mother tomay longer for the girl? She's not. For the boy it happens to be shorter, because on the 8th day he is circumcised. Who shows up at every bris? Eliyahu the Prophet. Eliyahu will herald the Messianic era, when Hashem will circumcise our hearts and remove tumah from the world. Since Eliyahu comes to the bris, he removes the tumah from the mother.
Last week two of Aharon's sons were killed and Moshe said to him, "That's what Hashem meant when He said He would be sanctified by those nearest Him." Not only was Moshe telling Aharon that Nadav and Avihu were greater than the two of them (since Nadav and Avihu were 'nearest' to Hashem) but that their deaths were also a kidush Hashem- sanctification of Hashem's Name. The Torah said, "And Aharon was silent." The Ramban and Sforno say it was easier for Aharon to deal with the tragedy knowing that his sons’ deaths were a sanctification and not a degredation. Rashi says that for his silence Aharon was rewarded by being the recipient of the prophecy for the next mitzvah.
The Midrash there has a different approach. "And Aharon was silent." Not "he wept silently"? Not "he mourned internally"? Doesn’t “was silent” imply choosing not to speak? What could he have said, asks the Midrash? It answers from with our verse in Tazria, "On the 8th day he will circumcise the flesh of his foreskin."
This was going to be Aharon’s response to his calamity? Maybe before a g'zairah- decree is carried out by the heavenly courts the righteous can beseech Hashem to find merits to make the g'zairah undeserving. But once carried out we have only to accept the judgment of the righteous and truthful G-d. Is the Midrash really saying Aharon would have complained?
Well, to understand what Aharon said, we really first need to…. understand what he said. All implications aside, "On the 8th day he will circumcise the flesh of his foreskin" doesn’t sound like much of a complaint.
An opinion in the Talmud is that Nadav and Avihu were killed for not getting married. The Torah tells us, "Sons they did not have." Why not? Our Sages say they didn't find fitting wives from the women of Israel. Were the two people closest to G-d so haughty that they couldn’t find wives worthy of them? And let's say there weren't the 'perfect' women they sought, since when does that alleviate them of the command to be fruitful and multiply? They'd need to marry the best match they can find. And why is the language of them not being married, "Sons they did not have" and not, "Wives they did not have"?
The answers to these and other fine questions will be brought to you right after these messages.
Rav Tsaddok HaCohen discusses an idea from the Gemorah Yuma, that Tshuva- repentance, helps even when the law would dictate removing the opportunity of Tshuva from the person. This was an answer given to the question of how G-d could harden Pharaoh's heart. Pharaoh was so wicked he no longer deserved a chance for tshuva. The Gemorah Yerushalmi asks Torah, asks Wisdom and asks Prophecy what should be done with a “soul that sinned”? All three answer, “It should die.” The question and answer are obviously a little more than what meets the eye. Our point is, Hashem, Who created Torah, Wisdom and Prophecy, when He is asked what is to become of this “soul that sinned,” He answers, “It will do tshuva and atone for itself.”
The wicked king of Israel, Menashe, was one about whom our Sages said he has no portion in the World to Come. Yet the Gemorah Sanhedrin says Hashem dug a tunnel under His Throne of Glory for Menashe to reach Him. Even though the angels stood guard around the throne, for fending off the likes of the Menashe, as prescribed by the Book, never the less, Hashem dug him a by-pass tunnel to reach Him.
Chizkiyahu was a righteous king who fell deathly ill. The prophet of his day, Yishayahu, came to him and told him he was sentenced to death on high for his sin of not getting married. Chizkiyahu had foreseen the wickedness of his unborn son, Menashe, and made the determination he should not get married. The Gemorah Brachos has some dialogue not recorded in the Book of the Prophets. Yishayahu tells Chizkiyahu he is going to die. Chizkiyahu said, "Finish your prophecy and get out. I have it from my fathers house that even with a sword on my neck I can pray and be saved." Yishayahu said back, "G-d's secrets are not your concern!"
An interesting conversation, to say the least. Yishayahu told Chizkiyahu he was going to die. That's according to the book. The consequence of his actions. Chizkiyahu 's response to this was, "G-d has rules outside of His rule book. You think I'll die? I'll do Tshuva and live. Your prophecies don't worry me. " Yishayahu said back, "G-d's secrets, that which is outside of Torah, are not your concern. We are bound by Torah law. That is how we act and interact with this world. Your decision not to marry is against the Torah and is, therefore, wrong!" Chizkiyahu accepted the rebuke and married Yishayahu's daughter. Who else but the prophet’s daughter would be the most righteous women with the most familial merits. The hope was that the king’s and his wife’s joint merits might annul the decree of a wicked son.
What comes out from all this is that what we might describe as a soul "wicked to the core" really doesn't exist because at the core of every Jew is a spark which will ignite the flames of tshuva. And even though one frame of reference might say a soul is so corrupted it has no share in the World to Come, a greater frame of reference says every Jew has a share and will get it. It’s a Jews’ greatest potential yet it only becomes revealed in the worst situation.
In G-d's eyes, so to speak, the most disgusting part of a Jew is the foreskin. (Since a soul is split before descending into this world, into a man and women, which reunite with marriage, one gender representation is all that's necessary.) G-d could have commanded circumcision like any other mitzvah. But instead He bound into it the greatest covenant between Him and Israel. National and personal (spiritual) immortality. This is a theme that runs throughout the Torah. Underneath the greatest tumah we find the greatest potential for kedushah- sanctity.
Why was Menashe, the most wicked, a link in the chain of the kings of Yehudah, thereby making him a progenitor of the Mashiach ben David? Because through him we learn the strength of the tshuva.
Later in the Torah we find "Hashem circumcising our hearts and the hearts of our offspring." (D'varim 30:6) That will be the case in Messianic times. With our hearts finally unshackled from the captivity of impurity, all our being will ascend to our most spiritual potential. The 8th day, bris-day, when Eliyahu, the publicizer of Messianic times, arrives, the impure are purified. All sinners do Tshuva. Small and great alike. Shemona- 8 has the same letters as Menashe.
Now we can understand the Midrash which asked when “Aharon was silent,” what he could have said. Not that he literally had something to say but that an idea was hidden in that tragedy.
The souls of Nadav and Avihu went into Pinchas, after he'd slain the Prince of Shimon. The Zohar, in Parshas Pinchas, says Pinchas was one with Eliyahu! Something is about to come full circle. Not only that, that's 4 people in one. We started out with some 4’s.
"Sons they did not have." Why not “wives”? The Zohar says sons undeserving of their parents good name do not have yichus- family ties back to their parents. Nadav and Avihu, like Chizkiyahu, saw their sons were going to be wicked people. As far as yichus goes, "sons they did not have." So maybe two very righteous women, with enough merits, could change that decree? The merits necessary were too great. So they didn’t marry. Nadav and Avihu didn’t know what was to be revealed generations later, by Chizkiyahu and Yishayahu. They didn’t know what their souls were going to take part in themselves. They, Pinchas, Eliyahu would be visiting the newborn male on his 8th day, heralding in the Mashiach, partaking in the greatest tshuva movement as the culmination of all history.
Wisdom spanning all Jewish history is encapsulated in a Midrash even a child could remember. Aharon was silent. What could he have said? "And on the 8th day he will circumcise his flesh."
The Ohr Hachaim HaKadosh reads the opening verse this way. "When a woman conceives..." the woman is Knesses Yisrael. "And gives birth to a male..." that’s the final redemption. [The masculine form is the stronger form. The redemption from Egypt was Knesses Yisrael giving birth to a female.] "And on the 8th day he’ll circumcise the flesh..." not 'he' but 'He', Hashem. He’ll circumcise the flesh of our hearts.
Hashem tells us in the Prophets, "Here, I send to you Eliyahu the Prophet, before the great and awesome Day of Hashem. And he'll return the hearts of the fathers on the sons and the sons on their fathers!" All those souls whose yichus was disrupted, their hearts will be circumcised, they’ll do tshuva, all fathers and sons will be reconnected.
At that time, Aharon could only be silent, in this regard. He was rightfully rewarded for that silence, for not complaining to Hashem. King David, however, his own son, Avimelech, tried killing him. But King David is father of the Mashiach. Although, like Aharon, he also lived before Chizkiyahu and Yishayahu’s time, he still knew the power of tshuva. He knew what would be on that great and awesome day.
Unlike Aharon, whose silence was good, King David did even better. He wrote, "I will sing Your praise Hashem, I will not be silent!" What did he sing? What else?
“Hinay, anochi shole'ach lachem, es Eliyah(u) HaNavi, lifnay bo yom Hashem, hagadol v'hanorah. Hinay, anochi shole'ach lachem, es Eliyahu HaNavi, lifnay bo yom Hashem, hagadol v'hanorah. V'hayshiv lev avos, lev avos al banim. V'lev banim al avosom. V'hayshiv lev avos, lev avos al banim. V'lev banim al avosom.”
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