Filed under: Leprosy
Through a spiritual treatment to a physical ailment the Torah in our parsha alludes to the roots of illness and spiritual healing.
Physical well-being is linked to spiritual balance. When a person is out of balance spiritually the flow of God-given life force which sustains all of existence is restricted. This appears as physical illness.
On the skin of the person with tzaraat is sores called a “nega.”, oneg (bliss) and nega (affliction) have the same letters.. We see from this that afflictions come by taking delight in forbidden things or not taking delight in those things that the God commands. As the sages teach in tractate Sotah all curses come only on account of a lack of happiness in Divine service.
Spiritual defects expresses themselves as physical illness, as in the case of tzaraat. With more serious illness (spiritual defects) treating the physical symptoms alone will not be enough and the illness can return, God forbid. One needs to treat the root of the problem.
Physical approaches to the treatment of illness are important but consciousness and lifestyle changes are needed for true tikkun (repair) to occur.
One must restore spiritual balance to “remove” the problem.
Know further spiritual imbalance leads to new growth of illness (at some time) God forbid. Unless one works to correct the problem. How much better that will be !
The Shabot after Pasach we read parsha Shimini. This week we read Tazria. What is the reason for this sequence of parsha to be read at this time ?
Pasha Shimini describes the revelation of Hashem on the 8th day, after 7 days of consecration of the mishcon (tabernacle). The festival of Pessach occurs also for 7 days. The festival of succot is also 7 days, and on the 8th day we conclude with a separate festival called Smini Atzerot. In the Gemora Shavuot is called Atzerot. The sages tell us like Smini Atzerot, svavuot is the Atzerot of Passach. The sages also tell us that the days of counting of the omer, are like cholemoad (intermediate days of pessach) in sanctity. Atzerot means to bind things together. On Smini Atzerot the Ramban tells us “ All the emanations are bound together”. This refers to all the spiritual work that we do during the month of Tishri. So too on Shavuaot is a binding of all the spiritual work we peform on Pessach, and the days of counting the omer. Parsha Shimini comes right after passach to remind us of Shavuot which is like Shimini Atzerot. It being a time of binding all emanations. So we should during these intermediate days make the most of our time. So that there will be great revelation on Shavuot. When we receive the Torah anew. Hopefully at a level even higher then when it was given at first, then death and evil shall be no more. Next we must ask, How can this be accomplished ?.
The answer to this question can be found in our parsha. Tazria for the most part deals with laws regarding leprosy (not leprosy as we know it ,but a spiritual disease that looks similar). We know that for the most part this disease was caused by loshon hora . If a person spoke loshon hora they could get leprosy . It was also during this time period during the omer that Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students died, because of such a misuse of speech. As his students did not have respect for one another. It was the lashon hora that was the product of baseless hatred that destroyed our bait hamikdash . When we recieved the Torah at Sinai it says that we were so united and unified as a people, we were as one soul. It is this that we must accomplish if we are to accomplish our goal of recieving the Torah at a exulted level that will yield redemption. We see this from the redemption from egypt of פסח Pesach. As פסח means פ (mouth) סח (speaks). And specifically סח is a certain kind of speech, describing the speech of Yitzchak when he went out in the field to meditate. It is this intensity of speech, prayer that brings redemption. We see this in the fact that as we learn in the Zohar that Yitzchak perfected the attribute of Givurah, and the yhv”h of blessing “goa’l yisrael” (who redeems Yisrael) is in the Sefira of Givurah (severity-discipline-force).
Pasach, Rebbe Shimon tells us is the time of the redemption of speech from exile. In a general sense parsha tazria and metsora both speak of leprosy, and come to remind us that the way of redemption comes from the redemption of our speech from the sitra achra . So than we can offer prayer that will yield total and complete redemption. This is all illuded to in the beginning our parsha which talks about when a woman gives birth. This is an illusion to redemption which is like giving birth. As the sages speak in Gemore Sanhedrin of the birth pains of Mashiach, that precede the the coming of Mashiach. The sages say one by one that they would not want do live in those times, becouse of the trial that such a time will bring. This being alluded to by the period of uncleanness surrounding birth, which ultimately passes with the women being clean. So may we purify and perfect our powers of speech yielding complete Redemption.
This weeks parsa Metzora like last weeks parsha Tazria concerns tzara’at (Leprosy). This must be a very important subject as it spans 2 whole parsha in God’s book. Tzoraat is translated often as leprosy. Both appear as skin disease, but there the similarity ends. The later is a medical condition that is curable via various therapeutic procedures. Whereas, tzara’at is a spiritual illness that requires soul purification and elevation. Tzara’at was not a “regular” bodily disease but a supernatural physical manifestation of a spiritual problem, a punishment designed to show a person that he must change his ways.
In the parsha it states, “When you arrive in the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I will give tzara’at upon a house in the land of your possession….”
Concerning leprosy of the skin the Torah states, “A man, when there will be in the skin of his flesh a saheis, or sapochos, or baheres, (three different types of Leprosy)…” (Vayikra 13:2) The Torah seems to be saying that the tzara’at that will appear on houses will be somehow an act of giving by God..
On the Midrash Rabah, Rashi explains that, the tzara’at on houses was beneficial to the Jews who had entered the Land of Canaan. Realizing that they were soon to engage in war against the Israelites, the inhabitants of Canaan hid much of their treasures in an attempt to safeguard them until the war was over. One of the places in which they hid their things was deep inside the walls of their houses. After the Israelites were successful in conquering the land, they searched the land for whatever hidden treasures they could find, but some of what had been placed in the walls of the houses remained undiscovered.
The Torah law of a house that has tzara’at is that after a certain point the house must be demolished. In order to reveal the treasure that was hidden inside the house, God would give tzara’at on the house, forcing the owner to knock down the house, and thereby find the much more valuable treasure.
Some times there is a reason for bad things to happen. So that good things may result though we may not see it in the moment. From this we learn that in order to find the “treasure” we may need to look deeper into things ( ancient walls.) in this case. Many blessing are right before us, but hidden from sight. And remember we learn from our verse that ) The Torah seems to be saying that the tzara’at on houses, this providence will be somehow an act of giving by God..
The Sages tell us that leprosy is connected to lashon hara (evil speech). We know that Miriam, Moshe’s sister, became the first victim of this disease after she criticized Moshe’s conduct. This shows us that illness of humans is according to the hands of heaven. We see penalties for sin in the Midrash where Rabbi Shmuel ben Nachman teaches that a woman’s life is in danger during childbirth because of her disregarding her time of menstrual separation, separation of challah, and kindling Shabbat lights. Rabbi Levi teaches that a man allows an accuser to bring accusations if he dwells in a dilapidated house, travels alone on the road, or sails alone on the ocean. One should not put oneself in a place of danger, as sin can overcome him.lO Rabbi Yitzchak further teaches us that when man comes to grief through sin and is liable to death by the hand of Heaven, atonement is made by his ox dying, his poultry being lost, his flask breaking, or by his falling and injuring his little finger. A drop of blood flows from it, and this part of his life is considered as the whole of it. These damages are not chance occurrences but the mercy of the Holy Blessed One. This is further evidenced by the kohanim (priests) in their roles as health inspectors and healers.
But we as said above we can learn from the leprosy of houses that we should not suppose illness or in this case leprosy is a divinely ordained punishment. It may be coming to reveal a treasure. God brings things upon us also to reveal what we would find no other way, to teach us. Remember these visitations are brought upon the world by God. These visitations should not be attributed to chance, without a specific design or intent, because if one does the Creator responds to this action proportionately, removing this person’s Divine supervision to a degree and increasing such chance occurrences, allowing them to run their course, completely uncontrolled. This only happens if one removes himself from God’s personal providence.
With God’s Providence the Temple will be built and the Messiah will be