Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 23   No. 28

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Harav Alecsander ben Yisroel Moshe z"l
and Miriam Yehudis bas Yitzchok Mordechai z"l

Parshas Metzora
(Shabbos haGodol)

The Balm of Life
(Part 2)'

"This shall be the law of the Metzora on the day that he becomes pure he shall be brought to the Kohen" (14:2)


In the previous Parshah, we discussed Rebbi Alexandri's famous statement "Who wants life?" As we mentioned there, some commentaries suggest that the not-fictional peddler was none other than Rebbi Alexandri himself.

The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (Daf 30b) which cites the same story, concludes 'Lest one says "I have guarded my tongue from evil and my lips from guile, now I will go and get some sleep!" Therefore the Pasuk says (in Tehilim [34] "Guard your tongue from evil Depart from evil and do good!" And what does 'good' refer to if not to Torah?, as it is written in Mishlei (4:2) "For I have given you a good acquisition, My Torah; do not forsake it!"


The seemingly obvious explanation of the contention that one may now go and sleep is that, having overcome one's Yeitzer ha'Ra - and refrained from speaking evil, one is now entitled to a well-earned rest. But that is not how the Maharsha explains it. According to the Maharsha, what the Gemara means is that perhaps sleep is the best antidote against the Yeitzer ha'Ra - as a sleeping person will not speak Lashon ha'Ra. And the Pasuk is coming to teach us that it will not suffice to escape Lashon ha'Ra through the negative act of sleeping, only through the positive act of Torah-study. This too, can be understood in two ways.

1. Bccause the purpose of our existence in this world is not to sleep, but to fulfil Torah and Mitzvos, and that is what a Jew should be doing. Indeed, the Torah concludes the Parshah of the Creation with the words "asher boro Elokim la'asos" - G-d created the world for us to complete it with our actions. 2. Because to leave the jurisdiction of the Yeitzer ha'Ra without a replacement as powerful as him is in effect, leaving oneself in a vacu'um; and if that vacu'um is not filled with something good, it will result in a person waking up and finding himself in the same rut as he was before he went to sleep. Going to sleep, in other words, is in effect, going out of the frying-pan into the fire, perhaps even back into the frying-pan.

It can be compared to the Exodus from Egypt, when Yisrael immediately entered into the jurisdiction of G-d, as they travelled towards Har Sinai, where they accepted the Torah. Had they not done so, they would have remained under the influence of Par'oh - a well-known symbolism of the Yeitzer ha'Ra.

In conclusion, to combat evil requires a positive force as strong as the evil. Lashon ha'Ra, as we know, is a particularly powerful branch of evil. Consequently, it requires an equally powerful counterforce to dispel it. Hence the need to study Torah, the only antidote that can achieve this end, because Lashon ha'Ra is the gravest sin, whereas learning Torah is the greatest Mitzvah.

* * *

The Fall & Rise of the Metzora
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)


Among the problems the K'li Yakar has with the current Pesukim is the apparent contradiction between the statement "he shall be brought to the Kohen" and the very next statement " Then the Kohen shall go to outside the camp" (See also the Seforno).


To answer this and the other questions, the author begins by defining the word 'Tzora'as', which he explains, is the acronym of 'tzoros ro'os' (evil tzoros). To explain this, he compares it to a Gemara in Chagigah (Daf 5a) which commenting on a Pasuk in Ha'azinu containing a similar phrase refers to tzoros that cannot be cured because they require two contradictory cures. Likewise, he therefore explains, Tzara'as is physically incurable.

It can only be cured by relenting on the evil that brought about the Tzara'as in the first place and going to the Kohen.

"Brought to the Kohen", he explains, means that against his will, he must see him, since no other cure is available to him. Bearing in mind that the Torah, in ve'Zos ha'B'rachah, describes the Kohanim as the teachers of the people, and that, via Aharon the Kohen Gadol, they depict the Midah of Sholom, he points out, had the Metzora gone to see the Kohen earlier, he would have avoided his current predicament. Now however, that he has seen the folly of his ways and done Teshuvah, he must see the Kohen anyway, in order to be released from his state of Tum'ah.

And so the Pasuk continues "And the Kohen shall go to outside the camp".

* * *

The Haftarah of 've'Orvoh'

Many reasons are given as to why this particular Haftarah is Leined on Shabbos ha'Godol.

According to some opinions, one only Leins it when Shabbos falls on Erev Pesach. This is because when, in Pasuk 10, Mal'achi (elias Ezra) speaks about bringing one's (T'rumos and) Ma'asros to the storehouse, he is in fact, referring to the Mitzvah of Biy'ur Ma'asros' (clearing out one's remaining Ma'asros and distributing them to their rightful owners) which takes place at the termination of the three-year cycle, on Erev Pesach of the fourth year. The reading of this Haftarah therefore, is to commemorate that Mitzvah. It is confined to Erev Pesach, when the Mitzvah is performed, and there is no point in Leining it on any other date.


The prevalent Minhag however, is to Lein "ve'Orvoh" on Shabbos ha'Godol, on whichever date it falls, and the most popular reason for this is that of the L'vush, who attributes it to the Pasuk (23) "Behold I will send you Eliyahu the Navi before the great and awesome day (the coming of Mashi'ach) arrives". In other words, we are comparing the news of the Ge'ulah from the current Galus to that of the Ge'ulah in Egypt, which was issued on Shabbos, the tenth of Nisan (the initial Shabbos ha'Godol), when they were told to take a lamb for a Korban Pesach - a prelude to Makas Bechoros and the Exodus from Egypt. A number of other reasons are listed in the preface to this Haftarah in the Me'iras Einayim Chumash. Here are another two possible reasons

1. The phrase used in the Haftarah (Pasuk 17) "And I will have pity (on you, just like a man pities his son when he serves him". This is a similar expression as the one the Torah uses when describing the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn and the saving of the Jewish ones, where the Torah writes "and I will have pity on you" (according to one interpretation of "u'posachti Aleichem"). In other words, G-d will save us if we serve Him, just as He saved us then as we served Him via the ritual of the Korban Pesach - even though we were not worthy of redemption - as the word 'pity' implies.

2. When the Navi writes (in Pasuk 22) "Remember the Torah of Moshe My servant ", he is referring of course, to the Torah that we received forty-nine days after leaving Egypt. As G-d informed Moshe at the Burning Bush (Sh'mos 3:12)- receiving the Torah at Har Sinai was the main objective of the Exodus from Egypt - a message that is repeated in the expressions of redemption, the last of which is "And I will take you to Me as a nation" (with reference to Matan Torah). Consequently, as we recall the first stage of the Ge'ulah on Shabbos ha'Gadol, it is befitting to mention the final stage at Har Sinai.


The most novel and fascinating explanation is the one cited by Sefarim, comparing the sequence of dates in the final Nisan in Egypt - Rosh Chodesh (when, for the first time, Moshe and Aharon declared Rosh Chodesh), the tenth and the fifteenth - to the equivalent dates in Tishri - Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kipur and Succos. This is because that Rosh Chodesh heralded Yisrael's new beginning of nationhood; the tenth was a day of forgiveness, since taking a lamb and tying it to their bedposts was a powerful demonstration of Teshuvah on the idolatry that they had worshipped in Egypt, and on the fifteenth, they celebrated their newfound connection with G-d, like on Succos.

* * *

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