APRIL 20-21, 2007 3 IYAR 5767
DAY 18 OF THE OMER
"This shall be the law of the mesora." (Vayikra 14:2)
The Talmud (Erubin 8:) analyzes our verse. "This shall be the law of the mesora" means: this shall be the law of the slanderer (mossi shem ra). The Talmud explains that the experience of the mesora, who is stricken with the skin disease called sara'at, teaches us both Hashem's great love and his great anger all at the same time.
Rabbi Isaac Sher z"l explains this interesting Gemara. We are all involved with educating our children. The father is the one responsible to teach his child, and he wants to hire the best education for his child. Hashem is our father and his educational tool is the malady of sara'at. Hashem wants to teach his children an important lesson. Just as you are beloved to Him because you are his child, so is your fellow Jew, for he is also Hashem's child. Therefore we are all commanded to be careful with the honor of that son of Hashem. Hashem reacts strongly with sara'at onto the person who speaks derogatorily about His son. Even Miriam, the sister of Moshe, was smitten when she spoke unintentionally about Moshe. Why such a strong reaction? Because deep down on a certain level, the person denies the connection that Hashem has with us, and forgets about Hashem, Who is our father and cares very much about the honor of His children. When he speaks about his fellow Jew, he doesn't think about the fact that he is speaking about Hashem's child. When he speaks, he disconnects himself from Hashem. The Gemara says, "Regarding all those that speak derogatorily, Hashem says, 'I and he cannot live together in this world.'" He ignites Hashem's anger and brings sara'at upon himself. The mesora must leave the camp, tear his garment and allow his hair to grow like a mourner. Who is he mourning? Himself. This explains the detailed and vigorous procedure to become purified. He is being brought back from the dead.
On the other hand, the laws of sara'at teach us Hashem's great love to the one who is stricken. Sara'at only occurs in the holy land of Israel. This is because the slanderer was engulfed and surrounded by holiness before he spoke. The slanderer had a special glory and beauty about him, and as a result of his words, he is changed. The sara'at is the change that occurs from losing that glory. All this teaches that a sara'at occurs only with holy and perfect people who have sinned. This sickness does not occur with the wicked or those distant from Hashem.
If so, all this teaches us that the Jew is holy, his body his garments and his house. When he forgets that his friend is the beloved son of Hashem, he is smitten with sara'at because the presence of Hashem left him. At the same time, he realizes that his beloved Father has smitten him and he is also a beloved son who receives personal attention from his Father. "For whom Hashem loves, he corrects, and as a father, the son in whom he delights." (Mishlei 3:4). Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"For the person being purified there shall be taken two live clean birds" (Vayikra 14:4)
The "leper," one who has sara'at, after going to the Kohen and determining that his condition is cured, must bring certain sacrifices to purify himself. Among these are two birds, one which is slaughtered and one which is dipped in the blood of the slaughtered one and sent away. The Rabbis tell us that the birds, which chirp all the time, symbolize the cause of his leprosy to begin with. Most people are not careful with the way they speak, and end up speaking lashon hara, gossip, which brings on leprosy. The problem with many is that not only are they not careful with words, but they just chatter away, just like birds! If one constantly and continuously prattles on, with no thought to the fact that each word must be accounted for, he's guaranteed to get leprosy! So his purification is the bringing of birds, which remind him that as a human being, he must be watchful of his words and not chatter away without control! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh" (Vayikra 13:2)
It is stated throughout Hazal that the various plagues are a direct result of speaking slander. Why don't gentiles receive a similar punishment? Is it not likewise improper for them to speak lashon hara? We may respond by reflecting upon the harm that is caused by speaking lashon hara. Slander in its various forms causes tremendous harm to interpersonal relations. The unified social structure of our people can be destroyed through the spreading of slander. The Jewish people have a mandate from Hashem to be unified, to exist in harmony with each other. Since the soul of Klal Yisrael is a "small divine fragment from Heaven," it is an inherent part of our continued existence to remain harmonious and unified. Any person who causes danger and threat to this entity must be punished. As for the gentile nations, although social harmony is commendable, it is not an integral part of their existence. On the contrary, their harmony can be detrimental and harmful when used for wrong purposes.
The commentaries have noted regarding the words of Hazal, "You are called man but the gentile nations are not called man," (Baba Mesia 114) that the various words for describing man (ish, enosh) can be pluralized (ishim, anashim), while the word "adam" has no plural form. This implies that the word adam exemplifies unity and oneness. Only B'nei Yisrael who have this mandate of oneness as are referred to as adam. This is reflected in our pasuk. It is because we are called adam that we are affected by plagues, to remind us against causing disharmony among our people. (Vedibarta Bam)
"When there is a plague of leprosy on a man, he shall be brought to the Kohen" (Vayikra 13:9)
The Midrash states, "One sees all plagues except one's own plagues." Kohanim were licensed to examine and diagnose the leprosy of all Jews, except their own. This halachah is not meant to imply that a Kohen would deliberately alter his findings in an effort to cover up the truth. There is a valid assumption, however, that despite his most sincere efforts at objectivity, man's judgment invariably yields to self-interest.
Another message conveyed in this pasuk is that man will perceive other people's faults, but not his own. Perhaps it is man's instinct for self-preservation which leads him to seek to justify his actions, to be less than willing to assume responsibility for whatever misfortunes he confronts. People in distress habitually blame other people or circumstances for their lack of success. Parents blame the teacher, the school, and even the whole educational system for their child's lack of adherence to proper religious guidelines. They do not examine the possibility that they may be guilty of providing an unsatisfactory atmosphere for their child. Did they supervise their child's friends? Were they selective in how their child spent his or her free time? Did they fulfill their obligations as parents, offering the necessary emotional support when needed?
It is difficult to accept responsibility for one's failure to fulfill his own obligations. The key to success in any endeavor is the ability to accept constructive advice from those professionals who are more competent to assess the situation. This does not preclude noting another individual's shortcomings for the purpose of guiding him towards the proper path. One must exercise caution, however, that he, too, is not overcome by these faults. An individual may proceed with an objective admonishment only after such introspection. He can then hope his advice will be accepted in the spirit in which he has offered it. (Vedibarta Bam)
It is customary to study Pirkei Abot (Ethics of the Fathers) during the six weeks between Pesah and Shabuot, one chapter every Shabbat.
"Let the money of your friend be as dear to you as your own" (Abot 2:12)
What love does one have for his own money that he should also have for his friend's money?
A story is told of a group of people who were discussing the extent of the wealth of a certain Mr. Stein. Each one in turn put it at a figure far above the amount said by the previous one. None of them was aware that sitting nearby was the Mr. Stein whose money they were counting. Hearing their argument, he apologetically said, "I see you seem to know Mr. Stein. Perhaps you can tell me how many sons and daughters he has?" The all laughed at him and said, "Do you expect us to know this information?"
Mr. Stein then said to them, "I do not understand. When people are blessed with a son, they make a berit milah, which is a big simchah, and inform many people of it. When they have a daughter, they make a mi sheberach in shul to give her a name in the presence of many people. No one keeps the birth of a child a secret. On the other hand, human nature is to keep money in secrecy and people do not go around talking publicly about their wealth. Yet, concerning Mr. Stein's children, who are not a matter of secrecy, you have no idea, and you know exactly how much money he has although this is his personal secret information?!"
The advice of Rabbi Yose is that just as your money is dear to you and you do not tell others about it or appreciate their discussing it, likewise, do not count your friend's money. (Vedibarta Bam)
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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