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Haftarah: Melachim II 7:3-20

APRIL 11-12, 2008 7 NISAN 5768


"And behold the leper was cured from his leprosy" (Vayikra 14:3)

Our perashah discusses the purification and healing process of the mesora (leper). The verse quoted above makes a statement that the leper was cured of his leprosy. The language used is difficult. Why is he referred to as "the leper" even after his leprosy is cured? Rabbi Rephael of Hamberg (quoted in Torah Lada'at) answered that the Rambam in Hilchot Teshubah writes that a complete teshubah can only be accomplished once the person finds himself in the same situation that he had been previously when he succumbed to sin, but this time he controls his desires and abstains from wrongdoing.

Therefore, even if the leper - who was afflicted with leprosy because he spoke lashon hara - feels remorse for his sins, his atonement is not complete until he leaves his imposed isolation and rejoins society, and then refrains from lashon hara. It is for this reason that the Torah still refers to him as a leper even after the physical symptoms disappear, because he has not achieved complete forgiveness until he mingles among people and does not succumb to lashon hara.

We learn from this that ultimately the Torah wants us to refrain from speaking about people, but doesn't want us to become a recluse, living away from the people. The Torah wants us to mingle with the people, and speak with the people. We must learn how to compliment each other and speak kind and encouraging words. It is not enough to refrain from bad talk; we must be a people who talk kindly to each other. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"The Kohen shall command; and for the person being purified there shall be taken two live, clean birds" (Vayikra 14:4)

At first glance, the need for the Kohen to "command" that the mesora (leper) purchase these birds is difficult to understand. We never find this requirement in the case of articles needed for other misvot. Instead, the Torah says that the person must do some act, and the person makes sure to have what he needs to do what is required. If he doesn't know what is needed, there are always people who can tell him. But here, it appears that he may not buy the birds unless commanded to do so by the Kohen!

The explanation is this: People often say that when it comes to matters about which they think the halachah is silent, they are wiser than Torah scholars, and they need not seek direction. This leads to their thinking that they are also expert in any misvot which are relevant to worldly things, such as priorities in charity distribution. People think that since it is their money, and their money cannot be taken without their willing agreement, this lay out the priorities for charitable giving, but in some cases it is actually forbidden for one to give. In all cases, there are laws governing how much and to whom to give, and the proper apportionment of funds. But almost nobody asks questions about this. Almost nobody asks about the proper relationship with their children or how to educate them. If people realized that halachah does regulate and provide instruction for the vast majority of "worldly" matters, they certainly would come and ask.

A mesora must repent of this shortcoming before becoming pure. Many of the sins which cause sara'at (leprosy) are those which people think are not regulated by halachah and are left up to them - such as lending utensils or money, or what we may or may not say about others. Therefore, the Torah says that for a mesora to repent, he must learn to consult Torah authorities in all matters - even the most mundane - until he knows what he needs to ask. To impress the lesson upon him, we require that he wait for the Kohen to tell him when and how to buy the birds for his purification. Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And I will put the plague in a house of the land of your possession" (Vayikra 14:34)

Rashi quotes a Midrash which states that a plague of leprosy on the house was a blessing in disguise. Upon hearing about the eventual entry of B'nei Yisrael into their land, the Canaanites hid their valuables in the walls of their houses. Thus, they sought to prevent their valuables from falling into Jewish hands. In order that these treasures would be eventually discovered by His people, Hashem caused a leprous plague to appear on the house. The houses would then have to be demolished, thereby exposing the hidden treasures. This seems a rather indirect way of giving riches to people. Why was it necessary to go through a complete process of leprosy and demolition of the houses before the valuables could be discovered? There must be a special message to be noted from this seemingly circuitous process.

We may suggest the following lesson to be derived from this particular method of reward. All of Hashem's actions are intended for our benefit, even if at times they seem exceedingly harsh. Sometimes the blessing is readily apparent, while at other times Hashem's beneficence eludes discovery by man. In order for an individual to maintain appropriate trust in Hashem, he is required to display enormous moral fortitude. During moments in which one's faith in Hashem is taxed, it is incumbent upon every individual to reflect upon Hashem's benevolence and exercise an attitude of complete faith in Him. One who can do this will spare himself much of the anxiety and anger that accompany life's every day occurrences. Hazal assure us that every individual is ultimately recompensed for sacrifices he must make. The Torah Jew should always remain stalwart in the belief that, despite the various vicissitudes of life, whatever Hashem decrees upon us is always for the best. That is the message of the leprous house. Even in those moments when Hashem's benevolence seems ambiguous, one must trust and believe that these clouds have a silver lining. (Peninim on the Torah)

Answer to Pop Quiz: He brings his korbanot and dips in the mikveh.

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