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"JEALOUSY, HONOR, AND LUST TAKE A PERSON OUT OF THIS WORLD."From the Haftarah . . .
"Four men, metzora'im, were outside the gate; each one said to his friend, `Why are we sitting here until we die?'" (Melachim II 7:3)
Chazal tell us these four men were Geichazi, the former servant of the prophet of Elisha, and Geichazi's three sons. [We read earlier in Sefer Melachim that the Assyrian general Na'aman had leprosy and came to Elisha seeking a cure. Elisha cured him, but refused to take any compensation. Geichazi chased after Na'aman and told him that Elisha had changed his mind, thus obtaining gifts from the general under false pretenses.] When Elisha heard about Geichazi's chillul Hashem, he cursed Geichazi (Melachim II 5:27), "Na'aman's leprosy shall therefore cling to you and your children forever!"
A Bissele Kavod
(Transcribed from a lecture by Moreinu v'Rabbeinu HaGaon HaTzaddik Rav Zeidel Epstein, zt"l, 5758.)
It states in Avos (4:21): "Jealousy, honor, and lust take a person out of this world." What does this mean, "takes him out of this world"? It means we have to understand how much we give away for a little honor. How much do we have to give away for a little lust? This can be illustrated by the story in Tanach (Melachim II, chap. 5) about Na'aman the general of Aram. He was a metzora (lepor). We know that tzoras is a very contagious disease and almost incurable. Being the great general of his country, Na'aman probably called in all the best doctors. They all tried to cure him, but to no avail. Nothing worked. He remained a metzora.
Sometime afterwards, a Jewish girl was captured. Upon seeing the condition of the general, this captive girl mentioned to Na'aman's wife, "If you want to help your husband, send him to Israel. Over there is a Navi (prophet) Elisha who can certainly heal him." "Ach, nonsense! He's been to the best professors. If the best doctors can't get rid of this, no one can."
"Listen," said the girl, "I don't know what these doctors said. One thing I do know, send him to the Navi, and it will go away."
The wife told Na'aman. "Certainly. If there is any chance, we have to try it," was his reply.
So Na'aman went to Eretz Yisroel, accompanied by the great national army of Aram. As he stood outside the Navi's house, Na'aman expected to receive a royal welcome. But no one came out to greet him. The Navi remained inside. Instead, he sent his talmid to tell him, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall come back to you, and you shall be clean."
Na'aman, the greatest general in the entire nation of Aram, perhaps the greatest general in the entire world, is treated like this?! He blew up. "I thought he would come out and wave his hands over me and cure me. Instead, he tells me to go take a bath in the Jordan River. What's so special about the Jordan River? We have plenty of rives in Aram!" With that, he turned to his army, "There is no one to talk to over here. Come. We are going home. Pack everything up and let's go."
One of his soldiers came over and asked him. "What did the Navi say? Did he tell you to do something hard? If he had come out and charged you $100,000 for the visit, wouldn't you have paid it? If he would have said that the cure might take half a year, wouldn't you have gone through with it? If he would have said to come in three times a week, wouldn't you do it? What is the question? Of course. So what did he say? He told you that you do not have to do anything of the sort. He didn't ask for money, he didn't ask for anything hard. He didn't hesitate in giving you his prescription. Just go to the Jordan River and dip seven times and come out. Is that such a difficult thing? Where are you running?" The logic finally penetrated. "Listen, I don't hold of all this. I don't hold of him and his prophesy. But you know what? I'll go. It's worth a try."
So Na'aman went to the Jordan River, entered the water, and dipped himself seven times. "Ooh! What's this? My skin, smooth and soft like a baby! Wow! Do you see this? It can't be! Where's the pimple that was here? Where are all the wounds and scabs? What's this? It's so smooth." Now he went back to the Navi singing a different tune.
What changed? What was the difference between then and now? Why is it that when he first came, he was so incensed at the Navi, and now he treated him with the greatest respect? Because at the beginning his honor was insulted. He admitted it: "Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over me, and cure the leprosy." "He refused to speak with me! What do you think, I came to hear a chazan? Did I come to hear a rabbi's speech? I came to receive a cure. At least give me the respect due me and come out and take a look!" Only when his servants spoke a little logic to him did he finally listen. "Our honored general, we are not too far from the Jordan. He's not asking much. Let's go and try." He went and it worked. His servants had said such a simple thing: plain, simple logic. Why couldn't he hear it before they said it? The answer is, "But he didn't come out and speak with me! I thought he would come and talk to me! Do you think I can stand such an insult"?" This is the way a person's mind works. Na'aman was willing to forgo his life's dream - being healed - because of a little kavod, a little honor.
If we would think about this, we would see that this is what we do our entire lives. We make decisions about everything, from the insignificant to the most important issues, based on a little kavod. This is true of Yidden as well as goyim, and even talmidei chachomim.
A Bissele Gelt
The story continues: Elisha's gabbai was Geichazi. He saw the incident unfolding before his eyes and his boss, the Navi, didn't take any money! "What? He didn't take any money! Why didn't he ask for a little money? It's a mitzvah!" So he ran after Na'aman to get a little mitzvah gelt.
When he came back the Navi was waiting for him. "Where have you been? To get a little gelt? Okay. You are now going to be the metzora. All of Na'aman's leprosy shall be transferred onto you!" For the rest of Geichazi's entire life he remained a metzora. Why? A little money - a bissele gelt. That is what the Tanna meant by "Jealousy, honor, and lust take a person out of this world."
Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos!
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