April 23, 2020 3:55 pm at 3:55 pm #1852537
Metzora 4 – Like An Affliction:
כי תבאו אל ארץ כנען אשר אני נתן לכם לאחזה ונתתי נגע צרעת בבית ארץ אחזתכם ובא אשר לו הבית והגיד לכהן לאמר כנגע נראה לי בבית
When you arrive in the Land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I will place a tzaraas affliction upon a house in the land of your possession; the one to whom the house belongs shall come and declare to the Kohen, saying: “Something like an affliction has appeared to me in the house.” (Vayikra 14: 34-35).
Perhaps we can explain why the homeowner only says “like a nega,” with a reason that will teach us a lesson regarding our relationship with Hashem, as well as our relationship with others. The Mishnah in Shabbos (2:5) discusses a situation where a person extinguishes a lamp on Shabbos for various reasons, for example if he is afraid of bandits, or to enable a sick person to sleep. Such a person would not be violating a Torah prohibition. However,“ke’chas al haner ke’chas al hashemen ke’chas al hapesilah chayav – if he puts it out to conserve the candle or the oil or the wick, he is at fault.”
The prefix כ, as found in כחס, translates as “like conserving the candle.” The Imrei Daas, written by Rav Nassan Lieberman (Shabbos 2:5), brings down a question and answer on the Mishnah from the Vilna Gaon.
Why is the הדמיון כ’ used? The Gaon then brings the Gemara in Beitzah (16a), which says that all of a person’s income for the year is predetermined from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur, except for expenses for Shabbos, holidays, and for children’s Torah education. If he spent less for any of these he is given less, and if he spent more he is given more.
In reality, a person who skimps on the oil he uses in honor of Shabbos would not be saving himself any oil, for the Shabbos lights do not go into the calculation of his yearly earnings. That is why the Mishnah uses the prefix כ’ in כחס, because with this in mind – and with the proper emunah – there is nothing to be concerned about; it only appears as if he is saving money.
This idea can be used idea here, regarding the tzaraas on the home. The mark on the wall is not really a nega; it is a כנגע. It appears to be a negative thing, a punishment from Hashem. But in reality the nega is in his best interest! Tzaraas on the wall is the result of some trespass he has committed (Erchin 16a.) It is a message from Hashem to do teshuvah, to change his ways.
As mentioned, the Seforno points out that the Kohen does not even begin his trek to the person’s house until after it is cleared out. This not only allows the person to empty his house of its contents and furnishings in the event that the Kohen pronounces it tamei, it also gives him time to do teshuvah and perhaps cause the mark to disappear. Thus, the nega is not a negative thing; it is giving him a chance to reform.
In truth, all of Hashem’s punishments can be catalysts for spiritual growth. The nega and other seeming troubles are just that: “seeming” troubles, only ke’nega, not actual afflictions. They are reminders from Hashem, sometimes subtle and other times stark, to take inventory of ourselves and see the good in everything.
It is worth noting that the Seforno in Tazria (13:47) describes the manifestation of tzaraas as a kindness from Hashem. Only when the greater Klal Yisrael is worthy will tzaraas be found among them. In fact, there are 72 types of tzaraas enumerated in the Mishnayos in Negaim, and the word חסד, kindness, has the numerical value of 72. At an intrinsic level, these negaim are only seemingly negative; in reality, they are a kindness from Hashem.
Perhaps we can also use this concept of the הדמיון כ’ when explaining the pesukim in Bereishis that describe Hashem’s decision to create a wife for Adam. “Lo tov heyos ha’adam levado, e’eseh lo eizer ke’negdo – It is not good for man to be alone; I will make for him a helper and an opposition” (2:18).
Rashi writes that if he is worthy, she will be a helper. If he is not worthy, she will be an opposition.
The second descriptive, that of an opposition, a כנגדו, also has the extra כ’, whose translation would be “like an opposition.”
In a healthy relationship, even when there is opposition, it is only “like opposition.” Having to hear another side, one spouse’s opinion, may cause a person to rethink his own notions.
This kind of opposition allows for the couple to grow within themselves – and therefore grow together – into something greater than they were before.April 23, 2020 8:06 pm at 8:06 pm #1852631
Look at the Sifsei Chachomim on Rashi that it teaches us humility not jump to conclusions in our judgement even if we think we know for sure.April 23, 2020 9:27 pm at 9:27 pm #1852706
This Tos. Yom Tov (Negaim 12:5) mentions five or so Terutzim including what you mentioned
כנגע נראה לי בבית. אפילו ת”ח ויודע כו’. דאי אינו יודע. מהיכי תיתי שיאמר נגע נראה לי והא לא ידע. וא”ת למה אסרה התורה מלומר נגע. והלא עד שיאמר הכהן טמא. עדיין אין כאן טומאה. כדתנן ברפ”ג. והרא”ם כתב בשם רבותיו. דכיון דבדבורו לא יוכל לשפוט. הלכך לא יאמר בלשון ברור. ע”ד אמרם. ולמד לשונך לומר איני יודע. ולי נראה מפני דרך ארץ שצריך לנהוג עם הכהן כו’. א”נ שלא ימהר הכהן ויגזור טומאה. ע”כ. וג”א כתב. משום דובר שקרים לא יכון. דהא כל זמן שלא נזקק הכהן לאו נגע הוא. ואיך יאמר נגע כו’. וכתב בעל קרבן אהרן. דלא דק בזה. שהכהן אינו עושה אותו נגע. אבל הטומחה עושה בו. וקודם שיבא הכהן. נגע הוא. ע”כ. ואפשר לתרץ שכשיאמר נגע. המכוון ממנו מה שקוראין נגע. והיינו נגע טמא. ומכיון שעדיין אינו טמא. הרי דובר שקרים. ולי נראה בהפך. דלהכי הקפידה התורה מלומר נגע. כדי שלא לפתוח פיו לשטן לו כדדרשינן בפרק מי שמתו (ברכות דף י”ט) מאמרו שמעו קציני סדום וגו’ הרי אפשר שיחזור ויכהה טרם בוא הכהן. ולכל הטעמים נראה לי שבכל הנגעים הדין כך. שלא יאמר נגע עד שיטמאנו הכהן. ואפילו את”ל דאין הדין הזה. אלא בנגעי בתים. וכן הרמב”ם לא כתב שיהא נוהג גם בשאר הנגעים. י”ל דנגעי בתים הואיל וקודמין בזמן כדלקמן לכך הקפידה התורה ביותר. משא”כ בשכבר בא עליו נגע הבית כשאח”כ בא עליו נגע בגדיו. וכן גופו שוב לא הקפידה בכך:
…It is for this reason that the Torah was exigent about not saying, “A blemish [has appeared…]”: In order that he not open his mouth to prosecute himself, as we derive in the chapter, Me SheMeto (Berakhot 19), from [Isaiah’s] saying, “Listen, you captains of Sodom,” etc. Behold, it is possible that it proceed to lighten up before the priest comes…April 24, 2020 1:45 pm at 1:45 pm #1852960FormerlaParticipant
I really enjoy your דברי תורה is there a way to get them emailed?April 24, 2020 3:00 pm at 3:00 pm #1852982
Very nice of you to say, thank you! You have to get hold of my email address which i am not permitted to disclose on Yeshiva World. From your name -formoerla- it looks like we both might be former (Los) Angelino`s: I now live in Miami Beach. I have an English sefer that was put out by Feldheim and would be happy to send you a pdf of it, as well as weekly verter. Try google. happy huntingApril 26, 2020 12:43 am at 12:43 am #1853243
The live bird is dunk into the blood of the dead bird to limit speech which is reflected in the chirping of the bird and then it cqn be sent away to the field. Bad speech can either come about through gaiva (cedar tree) or not caring for consequences (too humble like the eizov). Either extreme is not good (like the red thread).April 26, 2020 2:29 am at 2:29 am #1853262
In truth, even chirping or speech cannot be at one extreme. We warn from the dead chirping bird to not have bad speech but the living one sent away teaches the need to have good and correct speech. Please read below.
Metzora 1 — Two Chirping Birds
וצוה הכהן ולקח למטהר שתי צפרים חיות טהרות ועץ ארז ושני תולעת ואזב: וצוה הכהן ושחט את הצפור האחת אל כלי חרש על מים חיים: את הצפר החיה יקח אתה ואת עץ הארז ואת שני התולעת ואת האזב וטבל אותם ואת הצפר החיה בדם הצפר השחטה על המים החיים:והזה על המטהר מן הצרעת שבע פעמים וטהרו ושלח את הצפר החיה על פני השדה
The Kohen shall command; and for the person being purified there shall be taken two live, pure birds, cedar wood, a crimson tongue of wool, and hyssop. The Kohen shall command; and the one bird shall be slaughtered into an earthenware vessel over spring water. The live bird, he shall take it and the cedar wood and the crimson tongue of wool and the hyssop, and he shall dip them and the live bird into the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the spring water. Then he shall sprinkle seven times upon the person being purified from the tzaraas; he shall purify him, and he shall set the live bird free upon the open field” (Vayikra 14:4-7).
The metzora’s purification process includes two birds, one of which is slaughtered and one of which is sent away alive. Rashi (v.4) explains why birds are used in the purification of the metzora: Like the person who spoke lashon hara, birds are constantly twittering. Accordingly, chirping birds are used as a kapparah for the one who “chirped too much” and shared derogatory information about others.
Unlike all other occasions when two birds are required, here the Kohen does not kill both; the second one is released. As mentioned earlier (Vayikra, Tzav), the Ramban (Vayikra 1:9) maintains that animal sacrifices are intended to cause the one bringing the korban to imagine that he is the one slaughtered, for this will bring him to repent. But what value is there in setting one of the birds free?
The Kli Yakar (v.4: “Ve’taam lishtei tziporim…”) writes that the two birds represent two types of speech: that which is forbidden and that which is a mitzvah, that which must not be said and that which must be said. By engaging in proper and positive speech, the metzora remedies the sin of the improper speech. The forbidden speech, as represented by the first bird that is killed, must cease and desist. True expiation of sin requires that the sinning stop. But that is only half the battle. To atone for the misuse of speech, what is now required is the proper use of speech.
The Kli Yakar specifies just what kind of speech will bring kapparah to the metzora. By using his mouth for Torah and tefillah, he is able to undo the ill effects of causing hurt and harm through that mouth. So while the bird that represents the harmful speech is killed, the second bird must live on, to demonstrate that the antidote for lashon hora is not a vow of silence but a commitment to speak properly. The second bird represents judicious and good chirping: engaging one’s mouth in Torah, tefillah, and constructive talk, which must be strengthened and nurtured.
In his sefer Apirion (cited in Yalkut Lekach Tov), Rav Shlomo Gantzfried brings the same point; to that end, he cites the Gemara (Chullin 89a), where Rabbi Yitzchak quotes the pasuk, “Ha’umnam eilem tzedek tedabeirun — Is there indeed silence when you should be speaking righteousness?” (Tehillim 58:2). While it is true that at times a person is obligated to be silent like a mute (eilem), this does not apply to a discussion of Torah, as it says, “Tzedek tedabeirun — Speak righteousness,” meaning the words of Torah. This is as we see in the Gemara (Erchin 15b): What is the remedy for one who has spoken lashon hara? If he is a talmid chacham, he should toil in Torah. As Shlomo teaches us (Mishlei 15:4): “Marpei lashon eitz chaim —The remedy for the tongue is the Tree of Life”; the tongue is referring to lashon hara and the Tree of Life is the Torah. So we see that one cure for lashon hara is limud Torah.
The Zohar (Vayikra 46b) adds another dimension. Just as a person is punished for malicious gossip and speaking inappropriately, he is also punished for not speaking appropriately. The Zohar quotes the words of Tehillim (39:3) to corroborate this: “Ne’elamti dumiah hechesheisi mi’tov u’cheivi nekar — I became mute with stillness, I was silent even from good; my pain was intense.” According to the Gemara (Berachos 5a), “tov — good” means the Torah. Thus, David HaMelech is telling us that because he was silent and did not speak words of Torah, he was punished, his pain intense.
The Sfas Emes (Metzora 5661) brings the words of the Zohar, along with the words of Shlomo HaMelech in Mishlei (18:21), “Mavess ve’chaim be’yad lashon — Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” He then adds that a person must be careful not only to avoid lashon hara, but to stay away from any speech that will take him away from his true objective — of learning Torah. The two birds are there for two separate purposes: The slaughtered one removes the sin of unnecessary talk, and obviously lashon hara, while the other one is sent away in order to prepare the mouth of the metzora to be used only for divrei Torah.
When stating that death and life are in the hand of the tongue, Shlomo HaMelech is informing us that just as the tongue can cause death and destruction when not used properly, it also brings life, when used for Torah and mitzvos. Words not only take away life, but also give life. This concept is illustrated in a well-known Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 33:1). Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel sent his servant to the market, instructing him, “Bring me the best thing you can find.” The servant brought him a tongue. On another occasion, Rabbi Shimon told the same servant to purchase the worst thing he could find. This time, too, the servant returned with a tongue. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel was startled and asked his servant, “How can the same item be the best thing and also the worst?” The servant responded, “There is nothing better than a tongue that speaks good and nothing worse than a tongue that speaks evil.”
This brings us to another famous incident mentioned in the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 16:2). As a peddler made his way through the towns near the city of Tzipori, he called out, “Who would like to purchase a life-giving potion?” People crowded around him to see what he had to offer. Rabbi Yanai, who was nearby and heard and saw the commotion, told the peddler to come show him his wares. At first, the peddler answered, “Neither you nor those like you have need for it.”
When Rabbi Yanai persisted, the peddler quoted from Sefer Tehillim (34:13-15), “Mi ha’ish he’chofetz chaim oheiv yamim liros tov. Netzor leshoncha mei’ra u’sefasecha mi’daber mirmah. Sur mei’ra va’aseih tov bakeish shalom ve’radfeihu — Who is the man who desires life, who loves days of seeing good? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”
The Kli Yakar (v.4: “Aval rocheil zeh… “) points out that this peddler, this rocheil, had himself been a baal lashon hara, one who peddled his wares of gossip, causing arguments and breaking up friendships along the way. But now he had resolved to do teshuvah and he had succeeded. As such, he wanted to share his success with others and bring merit to the tzibbur and help them do teshuvah, as well. Therefore, he went to the cities surrounding “Tzipori,” meaning those cities that were similar to a tzipor — the bird that chirps and chatters — with the express purpose of educating those towns where people had stumbled through evil speech and were chattering like birds. Thus he used his tongue for good instead of bad, and went from being the itinerant gossip to the itinerant maggid. He killed his bad bird by releasing his good bird.
We see that this peddler, this recovering gossip, did not merely stop speaking. Rather, he taught others the lessons he had learned. The end of the pesukim the peddler cited instruct: “Sur mei’ra va’aseih tov bakeish shalom ve’radfeihu — Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” As mentioned, “tov” refers to Torah, so once again, as the Kli Yakar posits, the way to veer from evil is through learning and speaking words of Torah.
But there is more: We must also seek peace and pursue it: “Bakeish shalom ve’radfeihu.” If we constantly look for the good in others and look for ways to make peace, we will find that we automatically avoid evil speech and nasty gossip.
With this in mind, we can understand a citation in the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 60:2) when discussing the berachah of Ahavah Rabbah in Tefillas Shacharis. There we find a reference to Kavannos U’Kesavim, where it is taught that the Sheish Zechiros, six events we must constantly remember, are alluded to in Ahavah Rabbah. One of these events is: “Zachor eis asher asah Hashem Elokecha le’Miriam ba’derech be’tzeis’chem miMitzrayim — Remember what Hashem, your G-d, did to Miriam, on the way when you departed from Egypt” (Devarim 24:9). As Bnei Yisrael were traveling in the Midbar, Miriam spoke lashon hara to Aharon about Moshe and was punished with tzaraas (Bamidbar 12), and this is what we are to remember every day lest we, too, fall into the trap of lashon hara. The words that correspond to this reminder in the tefillah of Ahavah Rabbah are: “le’hodos lecha — to offer praiseful thanks to You.” As it says in the Kavanos U’Kesavim, “The mouth was only created to express gratitude and not to speak lashon hara, and this is the remembrance of the incident of Miriam.”
I heard from Rav Aharon Dovid Willner that lashon hara and expressing gratitude are flipsides of the same coin. One who speaks lashon hara is a person who focuses on the negative side of things, never looking at what is good and praiseworthy. He can’t appreciate that all Hashem does is for the good, and he feels entitled to have everything his way. Such a person will also be bothered by the faults he sees in man and will speak ill of him. On the other side of the coin, we have the person who lives up to the ideal of “le’hodos lecha,” of focusing on feeling grateful for all he does have, and of appreciating all of mankind. Such a person will be free from the bottomless pit of negativity — even if things don’t go his way or he finds something unfavorable in another individual. Consequently, he will never feel the need to express something negative about another, let alone Hashem, even at times when his expectations are not met.
Rabbeinu Yonah (Shaarei Teshuvah 1:18) cites the verse in Mishlei (28:12),”Ba’alotz tzaddikim rabbah sifares u’ve’kum reshaim yechupas adam — When the righteous exult, there is much splendor, but when the wicked rise, victims are sought.” Tzaddikim praise and honor others for every virtue and positive quality they find in each individual, while reshaim seek every blemish and fault within others in order to degrade and demean them.
Lashon hara… or divrei Torah? Critique and complaints… or praising Hashem and others? The choices are ours. Which will it be?April 26, 2020 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm #1853354
The Binah Leitim ezplains in Pirkei Avos that wild animals come to this world on false swearing. Why come to this world, should have said, come? He says that whoever does not use his mouth properly turns himself into a wild animal.April 26, 2020 2:03 pm at 2:03 pm #1853426
Understanding the peddler according the Ben Ish Chai, Rebbe Yanai was thinking that the phrase whoever wants long life might refer to above where being satisfied with whqt one has will bring long life, so the peddler was mechadesh that it refers to what follows and protecting our mouths will bring long life. This is what Rebbe Yanai was in doubt about how to interpret the words.April 26, 2020 2:57 pm at 2:57 pm #1853467
Dear Rebbe Eliezer,
It seems we keep trying to add unrelated things to what was said. I believe that more would be gained if we bring a nice tzu-shtell or a valid question to the subject rather than presenting important and nice points that distract from the vort being said. This way, all our fellow coffee drinkers can shteig from the enhanced vort that results from people working together. Relatedly, many of your added points weold make for nice topics for you yourself to post.
AvrahamApril 26, 2020 4:06 pm at 4:06 pm #1853557
I would have thought that whoever adds extras to the Parasha of Metzora would make you happy but I am sorry for making a mistake. I did not know that this topic only belongs to you.April 26, 2020 7:00 pm at 7:00 pm #1853642
You are right. It all adds. . It was a very wrong of me to write what I did. I hope you will not stop adding to the discussion because of my arrogance. Sincerely sorry.April 26, 2020 8:31 pm at 8:31 pm #1853669
We find when it turns completely white is tahor but if it has a black hair in it is tamei. The Klei Yokor explains that the chazir and camel are forbidden by their good signs. They add to their issur showing their good signs and their fakeness. When the negah is all bad, is good as people can guard themselves from its influence. The parsha is named after Balak as he revealed his hatred toward the Jews so they can watch out from him.April 26, 2020 9:33 pm at 9:33 pm #1853698
What do you mean it was named after Balak? Where can I find that? TyApril 26, 2020 9:59 pm at 9:59 pm #1853717
It is brought down by Mayonei Shel Torah that the Parsha of Balak should not be named after a rasha. It was named after him because he did not hide his hatred.
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