In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov.3;6 ב”ה
Metsora: Coming Back to Life. 5777
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but what is revealed belongs to us and to our children forever, that we may apply all the provisions of this teaching” (Devarim 29;28). Revelation does not deal with the mystery of God, but with a person’s life as it should be lived in the presence of that mystery. “This teaching is not beyond reach. It is not in heaven that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to heaven and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may do it?’…No, the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.” (Devarim 30;11-14).
The Torah is a tapestry
which can adorn the days
in which we dwell.
Let us embrace it and make it our own,
weave its texts
into the texture of our lives.
Its teachings sustain us,
its beauty delights us
when we open our eyes to its splendor.
It is not a mystery, far beyond reach;
it is not in heaven, beyond our grasp.
It is as close to us as we allow it,
on our lips, in our heart,
integral to our deeds.
Let us study its words,
fulfill its commands,
and make its instruction
our second nature.
It is the tangible gift of God’s love.
Weave its text
into the texture of your lives.
Revelation is not vicarious thinking. It’s purpose is not to substitute for but to extend our understanding. We must look for ways of translating biblical commandments into programs required by our own conditions. The full meaning of the biblical words was not disclosed once and for all. The word was given once; the effort to understand it must go on forever.
Torah is a closed book
until it is read with an open heart.
House of Israel, great and small,
open your hearts to the words of Torah.
Torah is demanding,
yet sweeter than honey, more precious than gold.
House of Israel, young and old,
open yourselves, heart and soul, to its treasures.
Torah sanctifies life;
it teaches us how to be human and holy.
House of Israel near and far,
Cherish the eternal sign of God’s love.
Torah is given each day;
each day we can choose to accept and be blessed by its teachings.
Your love has embraced us always
in the wilderness and promised land,
in good times and in bad.
Night and day Your Torah sustains us,
reviving the spirit, delighting the heart,
informing the soul, opening the eyes,
granting us a glimpse of eternity.
Because of Your love we shall embrace Torah
night and day, in devotion and delight.
Beloved are You, Lord
Whose Torah reflects His love.
God speaks with Moshe and says, take the sandals from your feet….
You are going to change your methods, change the usual, the walk needs to change.
From the opening day of the Mishkan, after learning about what the House of Hashem was and all it’s functioning was meant for (rectification of man- it was for us, a settled method for coming close to Hashem), we look at Nadav and Avihu- people who weren’t ‘bad’, who had the best intentions at heart yet chose to worship outside of the command of Hashem. We discussed that which Hashem finds to be “foreign and strange”. Everything outside of His perfect boundaries. We learned that in worship we need to learn the balance of Yare-Fear/Reverence WITH ahavah-love. Because Vayikra is light on narrative we are learning to pay attention to the order of events, where texts are situated and asking ourselves many questions (how do these elements relate to one another?)
We are striving to learn the heart and spirit of these laws, these instructions and finding fascinating clues in the Hebrew language. We’ve, once again, journeyed back to the garden. We’ve discussed the concepts of what we put into our bodies-reckoning it as a flag, a sign which connects us to the Nation, to the Kingdom, to the King. We learned about the woman who was obedient to Hashem’s first commandment to be fruitful and multiply and also displayed her obedience to His system,boundaries and healthy (Holy) separation after her near death-most physical- most Godly experience. Last week we pondered the mysterious biblical affliction (tsara’at) connected to lashan ha ra and this week, bezrat Hashem- we’ll delve into the purification process for the metsora (person afflicted with tsara’at) and what the message is regarding his period of separation. We will also look at lashan ha ra in connection with the greatest of commandments- loving our neighbor.
Anyone can easily find the bad in a person.
the real challenge is to find the good
in every one
in every situation
humbling yourself you will see the good
then Hashem can raise you to heights….
Humble yourself- ego, so what if someone did something to you, don’t speak lashan hara.
Everyone has problems. We all deal with problems.
A huge portion of them would disappear if we focused on bringing positivity in our lives.
Constantly seeing the good, FINDING the good.
Practically, how do we do this?
“You offended me.” Take responsibility: I allowed myself to be offended. Take the emotion into your heart- literally BREATHE the emotion into your heart and ask the question of Hashem. Why am I feeling this way? How do I heal it? Ask forgiveness, give it to Him. Repeat. Observe.
Our sages have said: “Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place” (Ethics of the Fathers 2:4). Since the only person in whose place you can truly stand is yourself, this means that you are qualified to judge only yourself. Regarding yourself, you must condemn your moral and spiritual failings and be critical of your every achievement. Regarding your fellow, however, you must employ a double standard: your love and esteem toward him should be amplified by every positive quality you see in him, and should not to be affected in the least by any seemingly negative things you might observe.-Schneur Zalman
Devarim 23;14 “Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.15 “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.16 “He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.
The person afflicted with tsara’at will have some sort of physical sign of it. The Torah describes the instances in detail. When it becomes evident on the body the person will go to the Kohen (not a doctor- this is a spiritual affliction, manifested physically) to examine it. He may become “quarantined” for a period of seven days at which time he is examined again. If the nega manifestation on his skin has not spread he may begin his cleansing process. If it has not changed (perhaps indicating the person’s heart has not changed) he is further quarantined for another seven day period and then examined again.
#5462 (v) sagar סָגַר – shut, to be shut up, enclosed, to deliver, to deliver up.
- The word used for quarantine illuminates for us the theme of separation not necessarily being a bad thing. We might think, this person who speaks ill in his community gets cast out. This is cruel, he is repeatedly humiliated. When we look at the context of this Hebrew word we can see that the separation is meant for the loftiest of good! What a grace and a blessing that this person IS in fact afflicted with tsara’at. He is shown physically that he has gone wrong and is “quarantined” and set outside the camp. Somehow like the woman who came into contact with death after giving birth, she is separate, obedient, able to have that silent time and reflect, to connect with her maker, to take up the charge over that new life she has been entrusted with, to let Hashem minister to her heart in a private manner (Vayikra 12). Somehow, this separation for the Metsora is the most merciful thing that could happen to him. He is now able to have the time to evaluate his walk, how he relates to his community (being outside he will value more his family and friends, regretting what he did, learning from it, repenting), Hashem will be able to minister to his heart in a private way and it will be so fulfilling that when he is repentant the affliction will cease to “spread” and he will be accepted back in. The series of continually humbling events will be understood by him and not only ‘bearable’ but wonderful in that they are the route for reconnection to his LIFE. Looking at where sagar is found we can see that this “shutting” or exile (temporary) is for the ultimate good. It protects the community from this person until he is able to evaluate, bezrat Hashem, what he has done and how he desires to change. This separation also protects the person from himself. This inward healing is manifested in flesh. Look at where else sagar is found:
B’reshit 2:21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.
B’reshit 7:16 Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him.
B’reshit 19:6 But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him,…10 but the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.
Sh’mot 14:3 “For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ (from this point the contexts all have to do with tsara’at)
Vayikra 13:5 “The priest shall look at him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the infection has not changed and the infection has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him for seven more days. (The following are the remaining contexts of sagar in Torah:)
Vayikra 12:14 But the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.” 15 So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.
Devarim 32:30 “How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up?
Who better than the metsora to teach us about personal responsibility? On what level are we practicing evaluation of our ‘sins’? Without the Temple service and community accountability how often to we take a look inside? On a deeper level tsara’at and the details of its manifestation on the metsora should solidify the picture or a merciful and Holy God Who is evident in the ‘outward’ offerings and services, but even more so…who wants to connect us to the inner workings of His Temple. The metsora teaches us that whether it is physically manifest or not…there is a courtroom and a Judge, we are accountable to communal responsibility. We are obliged to have honor, respect and decency for our fellow and whether we recognize it or not we are chastened and even exiled when we transgress our God which corresponds directly to the trespass of our neighbor (or his reputation via lashan an hara.) Like the metsora, the justice for our ‘failures’ does fall upon our own heads.
Y’chezkel 18:20 “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
1 Kings 8;30 “Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive. 31“If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this house, 32 then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.
Vayikra13:43 “Then the priest shall look at him; and if the swelling of the infection is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, like the appearance of leprosy in the skin of the body, 44 he is a metsora, he is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean; his infection is on his head. 45 “As for the metsora who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’46 “He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
The root of the metsora’s evil speech is haughtiness and pride. This is what we must strive to combat. Again, instead of having a slave- a victim mentality: ‘you did this to me.’ Pointing the finger and justifying the evil speech take personal responsibility. I allowed myself to become offended, take the offense inside- take it to Hashem. The Kohen in these texts is like the Judge, the metsora is the ‘criminal’, the tsara’at affliction- the evidence of the offense. The kohen is going out to the metsora who has been exiled- he is imprisoned in seclusion. The question becomes, will there be rehabilitation? What will he do with his time apart and alone with Hashem (what will we do)? When the Kohen is evaluating the metsora he is not only determining ritual purity (if the person is taher and able to re-enter the camp in which Hashem dwells), he is ascertaining whether or not this person is still a danger to society or not.
Y’chezkel 28:24 “And there will be no more for the house of Israel a prickling brier or a painful thorn from any round about them who scorned them; then they will know that I am the Lord GOD.” 25 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and will manifest My holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they will live in their land which I gave to My servant Jacob. 26 “They will live in it securely; and they will build houses, plant vineyards and live securely when I execute judgments upon all who scorn them round about them. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God.”’”
Vayikra 13:51“He shall then look at the mark on the seventh day; if the mark has spread in the garment, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in the leather, whatever the purpose for which the leather is used, the mark is a leprous malignancy, it is unclean. 52 “So he shall burn the garment, whether the warp or the woof, in wool or in linen, or any article of leather in which the mark occurs, for it is a leprous malignancy; it shall be burned in the fire.
Vayikra 14:44 then the priest shall come in and make an inspection. If he sees that the mark has indeed spread in the house, it is a malignant mark in the house; it is unclean. 45 “He shall therefore tear down the house, its stones, and its timbers, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall take them outside the city to an unclean place.
#3992 (v) ma’ar מָאַר- to make bitter, to cause bitter pain. Found only in the above contexts.
(This shoresh is comparable to the following, found only in these two contexts in the Torah:)
#4843 (v) marar מָרַר – to be bitter, embittered; to irritate or provoke; to make anyone sad;to weep bitterly.
B’reshit 49:22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; Its branches run over a wall. 23 “The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him; 24 but his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel)…
Sh’mot 1:13 The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously;14 and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.
The metsora who did not guard his tongue, knew of the bitterness from Egypt. He knew what it was like to be despised and set at arms length, he knew oppression and harshness. The metsora experienced Egypt with his brother and still in some way set out to cause division within am Yisrael.
He, who knew what it felt like to be unfairly judged and persecuted still deigned to divide what God had joined together. The word translated as malignant means bitter, causing pain. Indeed, we established on a spiritual level that there is nothing more contagious than tsara’at (gossip). This metsora caused his bitterness (perhaps he even justified it through some offense committed against himself) to become malignant, and until he deals with and heals this bitterness he will remain exiled from his community. The verification of this deep desire of Hashem to bind together His nation as a harmonious, obedient, structured, joyous and LOVING family is seen through the purification process for the metsora.
Every element calls to mind the ‘day’when am Yisrael became a nation.
Vayikra 14; 2“This shall be the law of the metsora in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection נֶֽגַע of tsara’at has been healed in the metsora, 4 then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed. 5“The priest shall also give orders to slay the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water. 6“As for the live bird, he shall take it together with the cedar אֶרֶז wood עֵץ and the scarlet string and the hyssop אֵזוֹב, and shall dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over the running הַֽחַיִּֽים water . 7 “He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free וְשִׁלַּ֛ח over the open field. 8“The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean. Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days. 9 “It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water and be clean.
Nega נֶֽגַע- is only found one other place in the book of Sh’mot, in connection to the plague which ‘freed the Jewish people’ in Egypt, the death of the firstborn. Sh’mot 11:1 Now the LORD said to Moses, “One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will send you out יְשַׁלַּ֥ח from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out from here completely.
One bird goes free, the other is slain. This too hearkens to the firstborn’s in Egypt. The Hebrew firstborn were sent out to live, the Egyptian firstborn died.
The word shlach שָׁלַח- to send, command, stretch out, expel, dismiss, cast out- is used in both texts.
(* First found in context to Gan Edan: Ber. 3:22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.)
The bird to be slain, is done so over הַֽחַיִּֽים the living water, ha’chayim is found first and only in B’reshit and then in the Vayikra contexts for the purification of the metsora.)
The sign in Mitsrayim of the Nile (living water) turning to blood was to foreshadow what would occur at the Sea of Reeds (living water) when Egyptian army was churned in its waters and they too were ‘turned to blood’. The blood of the live bird is put into the living water, making it red with blood and hearkening back to this sign and all that took place for the liberation of a Nation from the bondage of Mitsrayim.
עֵץ The cedar ets (tree) hearkens back to the ‘doorframe’ of the houses in Goshen, but first to Gan Edan: Ber. 2;16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
אֵזוֹב ezov, hyssop is first found in context to the Pesach in Egypt and then in our current context.
Sh’mot 12:22 “You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.
There is a seven day waiting period and the metsora is ‘banished’ from the camp, after the Pesach there is a seven day period where chamets is banished from the house, then afterwards (like the metsora) it is brought (allowed) back in. Sh’mot 12;15’Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.
The bird which is slain. This term appears in the order as follows #7819 (v) shachat שָׁחַט – to slay, to kill.
B’reshit 37:31 So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood…(The reason for the Egyptian exile- the sale of their brother Yosef.)
Sh’mot 12:6 ‘You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight….21Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb.
(First of months, first of the Feasts, foreshadow of the ultimate, the sign which came before redemption.)
Sh’mot 29:11 “You shall slaughter the bull before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting….16 and you shall slaughter the ram and shall take its blood and sprinkle it around on the altar….20 “You shall slaughter the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the lobes of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet, and sprinkle the rest of the blood around on the altar. (This context for the inauguration of the Kohanim parallels completely with the reception of the metsora back into his nation.)
We can see that the Torah is binding together the concepts of the birth of Nationhood to the offenses of the metsora and his healing. The way in which the metsora is like someone who is dead, is his loss of connection. Like someone who passes away he loses his ties to his life “radical separateness”. Furthermore when he tears his clothes, let’s his head be unshorn and covers his face he is acting as if he is in mourning. He is mourning his own ‘deathlike’ status. [Aaron, of Mirjam’s tsara’at affliction: “Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!”] The metsora is not alive again until he is ‘gathered back in’ to his people. When he comes back into the camp he has been declared clean yet, he still must not enter his house for another period of seven days. He can’t just come in and then go hide after his humiliation. He must sit at his doorpost and be enabled to speak with his friends, family and community…this time, in a way where he can share his remorse and express all that he learned through this process. Openly, plainly, without hiding, where the community can see and also be a part of encouraging him, welcoming him back in, the community can take part in his becoming WELL again. (Better than at first, even better than before.) This is just magnificent. The Torah and it’s Author is astounding, His system is perfection. Here we find a tie to Yeshua.
Luke 17; 11 While Yeshua was on His way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered one of the villages, He was met by ten metsorot. They stood at a distance 13 and raised their voices, shouting, “Yeshua, Adonai, have mercy on us!”14 When Yeshua saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were on their way, they were cleansed. 15 When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He fell facedown at Yeshua’s feet in thanksgiving to Him—and he was a Samaritan.17 “Were not all ten cleansed?” Yeshua asked. “Where then are the other nine? 18Was no one found except this foreigner to return and give glory to God?” 19 Then Yeshua said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well!”
The ten metsorot who were commanded by Yeshua to do as the Torah said (to show themselves to the Kohanim) were all cleansed. The Samaritan realizes there is a difference between being cleansed and being WELL. This man knew who his Kohen Gadol was. This man knew how he would truly get his LIFE BACK. That was through his thanksgiving, honor, worship, love and faith in Yeshua.
After these texts regarding tsara’at we are reminded of the boundaries breached from the garden to Nadav and Avihu and given Yom Kippur. This once a year event wherein ALL the sins of the nation are atoned for, through incense in the Most Holy place (like Nadav and Avihu sought to do). Then we are taught once again the standards for a set apart nation in Parasha Kedoshim. We find a sort of ‘reiteration’ of the Ten Devarim and detailed laws regarding sexual morality.
Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: You shall be holy… (Leviticus 19:2) Rabbi Chiyya taught: This section was spoken in the presence of a gathering of the whole community, because most of the essential principles of the Torah are appended to it.
Rabbi Levi said: Because the Ten Commandments are included therein:
1) “I am the L-rd your G‑d,” and here it is written, “I am the L-rd your G‑d” (19:3, et al).
2) “You shall have no other gods before me,” and here it is written, “Nor make to yourselves molten gods” (19:4).
3) “You shall not take the name of the L-rd your G‑d in vain,” and here it is written, “And you shall not swear by My name falsely” (19:12).
4) “Remember the Sabbath day”, and here it is written, “And keep My sabbaths” (19:3).
5) “Honor your father and your mother,” and here it is written, “Every man shall fear his mother and his father” (19:3).
6) “You shall not murder,” and here it is written, “You shall not stand by the blood of your fellow” (19:16).
7) “You shall not commit adultery,” and here it is written, “Both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (19:10).
8) “You shall not steal,” and here it is written, “You shall not steal, [neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another]” (19:11).
9) “You shall not bear false witness,” and here it is written, “You shall not go about as a talebearer” (19:16).
10) “You shalt not covet… any thing that is your fellow’s,” and here it is written, “Love your fellow as yourself” (19:18). (Midrash Rabbah)
The easiest thing is to hide from the world and its follies, seclude oneself in a room, and be a holy hermit. What the Torah desires, however, is that a person should be part and parcel of “all the congregation of the children of Israel”–and be holy. (Alshich)
Said Rabbi Yitzchak: One who bears tales is a murderer, as it is written: “You shall not go about as a talebearer amongst your people; you shall not stand by your fellow’s blood” (Tosefta, Drech Eretz 6:3)
Evil talk kills three people: the speaker, the listener, and the one who is spoken of.(Talmud, Erachin 15a)
The speaker obviously commits a grave sin by speaking negatively of his fellow. The listener, too, is a partner to this evil. But why is the one who is spoken of affected by their deed? Are his negative traits worsened by the fact that they are spoken of?
Indeed they are. A person may possess an evil trait or tendency, but his quintessential goodness, intrinsic to every soul, strives to control it, conquer it, and ultimately eradicate its negative expressions and redirect it as a positive force. But when this evil is spoken of, it is made that much more manifest and real. By speaking negatively of the person’s trait or deed, the evilspeakers are, in effect, defining it as such; with their words, they grant substance and validity to its negative potential.
But the same applies in the reverse: speaking favorably of another, accentuating his or her positive side, will aid him to realize himself in the manner that you have defined him. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
Job 6:24 “Teach me, and I will be silent; and show me how I have erred. 25 “How painful are honest words! But what does your argument prove? 26 “Do you intend to reprove my words, when the words of one in despair belong to the wind?
#3198 (v) yachach יָכַח- to be in the sunshine, to be clear, to argue, to show, to prove, to judge, to decide, to dispute, to altercate,
Vayikra 19; 17 ‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely הוֹכֵ֤חַ reprove הוֹכֵ֤חַ your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
A question was posed in class, what is one to do if there is a problem to be solved? How can one avoid becoming guilty of lashan ha ra? I believe it comes back to the “greatest” commandment. To love. To love your neighbor as yourself. How do we apply this in light of what we have learned about boundaries, discernment, community and lashan hara? This week we are given the commandment:
Rebuke הוֹכֵ֤חַ, rebuke הוֹכֵ֤חַ your fellow (Vayikra 19:17)
Why is the word “rebuke” repeated? Because first you must rebuke yourself. (The Chassidic Masters)
Your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is clean, the image you perceive will also be flawless. But should you look upon your fellow man and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering — you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself. (Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov)
How is it possible to love another “as yourself”? Are not self and fellow two distinct entities, so that however closely they may be bound, the other will always be other, and never wholly as the self?
As physical beings, one’s self and one’s fellow are indeed two distinct entities. As spiritual beings, however, they are ultimately one, for all souls are of a single essence, united in their source in G‑d. As long as one regards the physical self as the true “I” and the soul as something this I “has”, one will never truly love the other “as oneself.” But if the soul is the “I” and the body but its tool and extension, one can come to recognize that “self” and “fellow” are but two expressions of a singular essence, so that all that one desires for oneself, one equally desires for one’s fellow. Otherwise stated, the endeavor to love one’s fellow as oneself is the endeavor to cultivate one’s own spiritual identity; to see the soul and spirit as the true and ultimate reality, and the body and the material as extraneous and subservient to it. This is the entire Torah. (Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi)
I believe we are learning that the issues we face are best taken to Hashem. This may seem like an obvious statement, but do we truly put it into practice? Are we viewing our fellow through the eyes of Hashem? Are we identifying the “leprous” marks in our own hearts? When we do identify them, allowing Him to make them known, are we taking the time apart to evaluate our inner workings? Are we grumbling, complaining, despairing, feeling prideful, feeling entitled (to respect, to deference, to honor from another)? Are we feeling offended and inside bearing a malignant bitterness? Let us learn how to take note of these things in our lives, learning from the metsora and asking ourselves…is being “treated like a leper” really a negative thing, or- in some cases, will it become the way we can become even better than at first? Do we take the time outside of our comforts and the daily grind to really examine what is going on inside? Can we learn from the metsora that apart from the family and community of Hashem we truly have forgotten what redemption and freedom truly mean- outside of the nation, the community we are ‘dead’= disconnected from life. This psalm speaks to me as if it is the song of the cleansed metsora, recalling his time outside and his longing for the Temple courts of Hashem. He is now able to again approach the place where Hashem’s glory resides, alongside his family and in unison with his friends. The most beautiful place, close with Hashem.
Hashem Himself ties the Love of the One- Echad to the love of the other- your neighbor.
Tehillim 84;1How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God. 4How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah. 5How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! 6 Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. 7 They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion. 8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. 9 Behold our shield, O God, and look upon the face of Your anointed. 10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!
“You are my witnesses, says the Lord. There is no king without a Kingdom, no sovereign without subjects. When you are my witnesses I am the Lord. The coin of His kingdom is Torah, to be reflected in study and deeds. God is the first, God is the last, there is no God but Hashem.
The Torah is given each day, each day we recieve it anew,
if we wish to make it our own.”
Leaving Mitsrayim we understood that redemption was a communal effort. We had salvation yet the sign on the House was that of obedience and allegiance. Adherence meant our protection. As we follow Hashem into the wilderness and allow Him to reveal His righteous teaching, His heart to us through the Torah in Yeshua, how grateful may we become to be given this gift and not let it pass over us or pass us by…may the wonder in His word strengthen your faith and awe of Hashem. Let our faith and our works be the preparations for the ultimate redemption. May you be blessed in all chapters of your life, inside and outside may it be for a blessing.
Resources: See Homepage and click on My Resources entry on this blog. Much of this week’s lesson came from Chabad.org