APRIL 12-13, 2002 1 IYAR 5762
"The Kohen shall look...if a hair in the affliction has changed to white...it is a sara'at affliction" (Vayikra 13:3)
Our perashah discusses the laws regarding sara'at, loosely defined as leprosy. Even though sara'at is a skin abnormality, our Sages teach us that this is brought about by a person's sins. If and when the person realizes this and repents from his sins, the disease will disappear and he will be cured.
One of the signs of a problem is, if two hairs that are found in the blemish turn white. If that occurs that is a sign that his skin problem is due to sin. This, however, is very unusual, because we know that the color white is a sign of goodness and a lack of sin, as it says in the prophet Yeshaya (1:18) "If your sins are like crimson I will whiten them like snow." However, the Torah is teaching us that this sign of white can be a sign of sin. It depends on the person. If a person doesn't know that he is sinning, or even if he knows but it doesn't bother him, if he is "white as snow" in his eyes, there is little hope for him. He thinks of himself as a sadik and is unlikely to repent. But, a black hair can be a sign of purity. Since he knows that he has a sin, even if he doesn't repent fully right away, there is hope for him. Eventually he will complete his improvement and be pure.
It would be truly beneficial if we had a system that would notify us of our faults. Hashem has left us such a system. They are your best friends and Rabbis. Maybe it's time for a physical! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And he that owns the house shall come and tell the Kohen 'It seems to me there is a leprosy in the house.'" (Vayikra 14:35)
Rashi tells us that even if the owner of the house is a Torah scholar and feels certain that what he sees is leprosy, he should still say, "It appears to me" rather than definitively, "It is!"
The lesson we learn from here is very profound and yet very practical. We tend to be very sure of our perceptions, and we therefore jump to conclusions. Many times, however, our information is incorrect, or our inferences are mistaken. Because we were so assured of our opinions, we find it difficult to admit our mistakes, and therefore exacerbate the situation. However, if we learn to speak and think using terms such as "it appears to me," "I believe so," "I'm not sure but," then even if we were mistaken, it will be easier to concede and change our views. Of course, there are times when it's appropriate and necessary to make strong statements, but in many instances, by saying, "It appears to me" we will avoid confrontation and will assess the situation correctly and properly. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"And there is in the skin of his flesh the plague of sara'at, then he shall be brought to Aharon the Kohen" (Vayikra 13:2)
The Rabbi of Alexander commented on this verse: The Sages state that sara'at is an affliction that comes because a person spoke lashon hara against others. When people say negative things about others, they frequently rationalize that it is proper for them to say what they are saying. One common excuse is that they are telling the truth. The other person has done so much wrong that it is important to publicize what a bad person he is. They claim that they would never do this without having elevated intentions and that they are actually performing a misvah.
Although their claims might sound good at first, they cause much hatred, quarrels and pain. Therefore the person with sara'at was sent to Aharon the Kohen. One of the traits of Aharon was that he did everything he could to make peace between people. He even exaggerated and told untruths in order to bring about peaceful relationships between people. Whenever people quarreled, he would tell both sides that the other was saying kind and positive things about them. When someone was told that the other person was speaking positively about him, he automatically felt positive about the other person and this greatly improved their relationship. This was the lesson Aharon would give to the person who spoke against others. Don't justify your harming and wronging others by claiming that you want to publicize the truth. Do all that is in your power to help people feel love for one another. (Growth through Torah)
This week's Haftarah: Melachim II 7:3-20.
This haftarah tells about four Jewish people with leprosy who were sent out of the Jewish camp, as the law required in our perashah. At the time, the nation of Aram was at war with Israel. However, the four men, displaying the selfishness that put them in this situation in the first place, decided to turn themselves over to Aram. In the end, like the healed leper in our perashah, they learned to put the welfare of their fellow Jews ahead of their own needs, and went to inform the Jews that Aram had fled.
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