Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
e-mail yosilr@juno.com

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"Adam Ki Y'hiyeh V'or B'soro -
If a person will have on the skin of his flesh."

Often when a person becomes ill, he will try to remedy the problem himself. When that does not suffice, he will seek the help of a doctor. When even that does not help, then what alternatives are left? Our Parsha this week, gives us a interesting insight into the cause of many of our ills and their cures.

Most of us are aware that the classic case of Tzora'at - leprosy, as delineated by the Torah, is not the physical ailment that is seen in the world today. The leprosy that the Torah speaks of, is brought on by Lashon Hara - the transgressions of speech. For instance, when Miryam spoke Lashon Hara about Moshe Rabbaynu, we see that she developed Tzora'at a leprosy ailment (Bamidbar [Numbers] 12 :16). Similarly, the nation is warned of the devastating effects of Lashon Hara to our bodies. Why does this come about?

During the S'firat HaOmer, the time of counting the Omer, between Pesach and Shavu'ot, we attempt to rectify our spiritual defects in the union between our souls and our bodies. Each of the 49 days is directly connected to a S'firah - a Kabbalistic power, through which Hashem manifests His will. While there are actually ten S'firos, the first three - Chochma, Binah and Da'at - Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge (CHaBaD), lie within the realm of Hashem Himself.

The other seven, Chesed, G'vurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yisod and Malchut - Kindness, Strength, Beauty, Eternity, Splendor, Foundation and Majesty - fall within the realm of man.

Each day, a manifestation of each S'firah can be accessed. Therefore, on the 18th day of the Omer, which is 2 weeks and 4 days - we can access the fourth part of the second S'firah - Netzach of Tiferet - or, the Eternity of Beauty (Interestingly, Lag B'Omer which is the 33rd day of the Omer, or 4 weeks and 5 days, corresponds to Hod of Hod - or, the Splendor of Splendor. Hence, a break in the mourning period that also falls onto these 49 days). Tikun - rectification - can then be accessed in all areas of the body and the soul.

Each of the 10 S'firot, also has a corresponding position in the human head (also in the human body and the shape of the land of Israel). The last of the S'firot, Malchut - Majesty, corresponds to the human mouth. Just as Hashem's, will goes through a series of channels, which flowing through the various combinations of S'firot, and which finally enter into this dimension of reality through Malchus, so too, does our empowerment, manifest itself through Malchut, the mouth, specifically through the power of speech. In fact, many sources hold, that when the Torah states that man was created B'Tzelem Elokim - the image of G-d - it actually means that mankind is unique in creation because we have the power of speech, just like Hashem, who created the universe through speech.

Speech and the misuse of speech, can have very positive or very negative effects on the world. Speech is our connection to the Divine. Therefore the Torah emphasizes that the misuse of speech must be curtailed. When Am Yisrael has access to mediums of spiritual sensitivity, namely the priesthood, we were able see the manifestations of Tzora'at and make the appropriate Tikkunim.

But what doctors do we have to remedy our spiritual ills? Where can we seek the advise that we need to cure our ills? The Rambam makes it very clear in Moreh Nevuchim 3:27; Hilchot De'ot 3 and 4; and in the Igeret Hamussar, that "the best medication is based on ethical values, for it then tends to reestablish the harmonious union between spiritual and physical forces."

It is said, that when a patient came to the Rambam, he would know the patients ailment just by looking at him. While this is a beautiful concept, it is also very scary. For someone to be able to physically see your spiritual imperfections, can be truly a humbling experience.

Lashon Hara, can hurt, maim and kill people. Most often, we only think about what it does to others. Kabbalistically, we should in fact be concerned about how it can damage us, the bearers of Lashon Hara. The classic Kabbalistic reason given for being forbidden to steal, is that if one steals, one BECOMES a thief. Stealing not only hurts others, it severely damages the thief.

Think about our concern for diets, exercise, controlling stress and the like. And then think about how we don't show the same concern for our own spiritual well-being. We are literally plugging up our spiritual arteries. Leaving vast deposits of spiritual cholesterol in the form of gossip, slander, perjury and hateful speech, in the conduits of our own spirituality. If we could only see ourselves from the inside out, we would see the disease of leprosy running rampant inside all of us. It is no wonder that the great Tzaddik the Chofetz Chaim ZT"L emphasized this Mitzvah to the extent that he did.

Now that we have no priesthood, and no Temple with which to make the appropriate libations to rid the Tzora'at from within us, let us all work on decreasing the amount of Lashon Hara that exits our mouths. For the mouth is the gateway to the Divine. And by doing so we may rid the world and ourselves of this plague that dwells within us.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig

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