My Home is Your Home
“Can you please pass the potatoes?”
“My pleasure dear. They are delicious. I really enjoy our family dinners together.”
“So do we, Abba.”
Knock, knock. All of the children stop eating and run to answer the front door. They find the neighbor’s son smiling in the hallway.
“My Abba would like to borrow your hammer, Mr. Zarein.”
The Abba becomes instantly upset. “Why can’t the neighbor buy his own hammer?” he thought. “Why should I lend him mine? I bought it with my money and it is for me and only me to use.”
“Tell your Abba that I cannot lend it to him. Perhaps some other time.”
The children are a bit disappointed. They would like to have seen the mitzvah of lending the neighbor something that he needs. A few days later, another neighbor knocks on the door.
“My Imma would like to borrow your flour sifter, Mr. Zarein.”
“I am sorry. It is not available.”
“Why are these neighbors always borrowing things?” thought Mr. Zarein. “Can’t they just leave me alone to enjoy the privacy of my home and my possessions?” A few days later, Mr. Zarein was relaxing in his home, looking at the beautifully painted walls. He noticed that one wall was beginning to look a little moldy. There was a small patch of green that was recessed into the wall.
“I must find the source of this discoloration and fix it,” he thought to himself. “I don’t want anything to ruin my beautiful house.”
Mr. Zarein tried scraping, plastering and painting, but the greenish spot would not go away. In fact, it was getting worse. He became so desperate, that he actually called one of the neighbors in to look at it.
“Perhaps you should call the Kohen, Mr. Zarein.”
“Is he an expert in home repairs?”
“No. However, he is an expert in tsoraas battim (a plague on the home). He can tell you if this green spot is a physical problem or a spiritual one.”
“I never thought about that. Thank you very much, Nochum.”
And so, Mr. Zarein called the Kohen. Sure enough, the problem was a spiritual one - tsoraas battim.
“Mr. Zarein, I’m afraid that your house is tomei (impure) due to this tsoraas battim.”
“Oy vey, my beautiful home is defiled. What did I do to deserve this?”
“If you are seriously ready to do teshuva (correct your ways) I will tell you what our sages say about this problem.”
“I am ready, Mr. Kohen.”
“Tsoraas battim is brought on by tsar ayin - stinginess. People who refuse to lend things that they are able to are called tsar ayin. They deny others the pleasure of use of their belongings.”*
“I know that I am guilty of that, but I feel justified.”
“Because the kelim are mine. I bought them with my own money.”
“Mr. Zarein, please allow me to correct you. You did not buy your sadeh achuza (inherited homestead) here in Eretz Yisrael. Hashem gave the land to Yehoshua via miraculous conquests. He distributed it to all of Klal Yisrael, including your family. It, along with all of the parnassa (livelihood) that you made from it and all of the kelim (household items) that you bought are from The Almighty. He gave you a beautiful home filled with good things in order to test you. Will you share with others? Or will you say, ‘My strength and the power of my hand amassed this wealth for me’ (Devarim 8:17). One who shares earns the reward reserved for those who occupy themselves with the mitzvah of gemilus chassadim (performing acts of kindness). Those who do not share with others the good things that Hashem gave them get tsoraas battim.”
“Oy vey, what have I done to myself and my beautiful home?”
“There is no need to worry Mr. Zarein. We will follow the taharah (purification) process for your house. And we can help you do teshuva to purify your neshama (soul).”
“I am ready. Thank you very much Mr. Kohen.”
“Mr. Zarein, may Hashem help us all become the best gomlei chassadim possible.”
Kinderlach . . .
Our sages summed it all up in one sentence, “What is mine is yours and what is yours is yours” (Pirkei Avos 5:10). Lend your things to others. They may not be able to buy them. Or they may own the keli, but it is misplaced, broken, or on loan. Whatever the reason, they need to borrow from you. Lend to them! Perform a big chessed. Share Hashem’s kelim with His other children. You will help the other person, get a big mitzvah for yourself, and give Our Father in Heaven lots of nachas.
*(See the Keli Yakar on verse 14:34 for further explanation.)
Over All Five
“Hello, everyone. I’m home.”
“Shalom, Abba. How are you?”
“Wonderful, Chaim, Baruch Hashem. Thank you for asking. How are you? How was your day?”
“Great, Abba. We learned a very interesting Mishna today.”
“That’s fantastic Chaim. Tell me all about it.”
“It is in Mesecta Makkos, the third chapter, the ninth Mishna. Someone can plow one furrow and commit eight sins.”
“Wow. What are the sins?”
“He plows with an ox and a donkey together, which are both hekdesh (property of the Beis HaMikdash). He plows kelai hakerem (a field which has grapevines and wheat mixed together) on the shmitta year, on yom tov. The field is also a graveyard and the man plowing is both a Kohen and a nazir (who are both forbidden to enter a graveyard).”
“Chaim, that is truly fascinating. I learned something similar today. About an action which carries the weight of many sins.”
“What was it Abba?”
“It was a Medrash on Parashas Metzorah. The Medrash was speaking about the plague of tsoraas, which comes from speaking Loshon Hora. The word ‘Torah’ is used five times in the parasha in reference to the plague of tsoraas. This is to teach us that one who speaks Loshon Hora transgresses all five books of the Torah.”
“There is more, Chaim. The Tosefta in Mesecta Peah (1:2) lists sins for which a person is punished in this world, but the main punishment is reserved for the next world: idolatry, immorality, and murder. Loshon Hora is equal to all of them.”
“Words are really powerful, Abba.”
“That’s right, Chaim. Watch what you say.”
Kinderlach . . .
We are all trying to do lots of mitzvos and avoid doing any aveyros (sins). Two weeks ago we learned about the animals which are forbidden to eat. You would not dream of eating chazir (pork). It is a terrible aveyra. This week we learn that we must be just as careful about what comes out of our mouth, as we are about what goes into it. One word of Loshon Hora is a sin against the whole Torah. All 613 mitzvos! The punishment in this world is bad enough. What happens to the sinner in the next world is unspeakable. Watch what you say.
To purify himself, the metzorah brings two sparrows, cedar wood, two red threads and a hyssop. Why? (Rashi 14:4)
What happens to everything that is in a house which has tsoraas? (14:36 and Rashi)
What is done if the tsoraas returns to the house? (14:49)
Kinder Torah Copyright 2005 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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