April 14, 2021 6:56 pm at 6:56 pm #1964918abukspanParticipant
Metzora 2 — Lessons From Leprosy
והיה ביום השביעי יגלח את כל שערו את ראשו ואת זקנו ואת גבת עיניו ואת כל שערו יגלח וכבס את בגדיו ורחץ את בשרו במים וטהר
And it shall be on the seventh day, he shall shave off all his hair: his head, his beard, his eyebrows, and all his hair shall he shave off; he shall immerse his clothing and immerse his flesh in water, and become pure (Vayikra 14:9).
The punishment and purification process of the metzora not only help atone for the sins that bring about tzaraas, but also teach us many lessons along the way.
Although as part of the purification process the metzora must shave all his hair, the pasuk enumerates three specific places: head, beard, eyebrows. The Kli Yakar explains how these three locations allude to three of the causes of tzaraas: gassus haruach (arrogance), lashon hara (evil speech), and tzarus ha’ayin (selfishness/ greed). (See Arachin 16a.) The hair on the head hints at an arrogant person who walks around with his head held high, belittling and looking down upon others. The hair on the beard, which is around the mouth, hints at the sin of lashon hara, speaking ill of others. The eyebrows, situated above the eyes, hint at the sin of tzarus ha’ayin, narrowness of the eye, which presents as an unwillingness to share with others. When the metzora shaves off these types of hair, he atones for the sins committed with the associated body parts, and receives a reminder of the cause of his malady.
The Meshech Chochmah stresses an aspect of the metzora’s punishment and its attendant lesson: “Badad yeisheiv mi’chutz la’machaneh moshavo — He shall stay in isolation; his dwelling shall be outside the camp” (Vayikra 13:46). A tzar ayin, selfish and stingy person, doesn’t want to share with others or think about their needs, thereby causing those others to distance themselves from him. Middah k’neged middah, he must now dwell apart and in total isolation.
The Meshech Chochmah adds that this also accounts for the halachah (Yoma 41b) of a wealthy person who brings the less expensive korban of a pauper. In most cases, he fulfills his obligation — except in the case of a metzora. Were a wealthy metzora to bring the cheaper korban, he would not be yotzei. If the cause of the tzaraas is tzarus ha’ayin, then if he is rich enough to afford a more expensive korban but instead brings the korban appropriate for an indigent person, that is an indication that he has not yet repented from his sin of tzarus ha’ayin, and is not yet ready to gain atonement.
The Ben Ish Chai teaches us three additional lessons, this time from the three steps of the metzora’s purification process: washing his clothing, shaving his hair, and immersing in a mikveh. When washing a soiled garment, the initial washing removes the largest amount of dirt. Yet subsequent washings may be necessary to remove a deeply embedded stain. Even after a second or third washing, some scrubbing may still be necessary to remove the roshem, the impression left by the original dirt.
The same is true, says the Ben Ish Chai, when washing the spiritual fabric of our soul. Sin soils and sullies our neshamah, often necessitating a repeated washing. Counterintuitively, however, to remove the filth of a gross and blatant sin, all that may be needed is an initial first washing; the magnitude of the sin makes the viduy and teshuvah genuine and heartfelt.
Yet then there are the subtle sins, the ones that are hardly considered such, by nature of their commonality or frequency. These aveiros, which are often trampled upon, can leave a roshem even after the first round of teshuvah. This is because the “second-nature” aspect of these sins lessens the sincerity of the initial teshuvah. Often, in order to fully remove these sins, additional work and effort are called for, since the yetzer hara fools us into believing that they are not really sins at all. Just as cloth garments may require more than one washing, the fabric of our soul should be afforded no less care.
The lesson from shaving the hair, writes the Ben Ish Chai, is based on a story (Midrash Tanchuma, Tazria 8): A Kohen who used to look at negaim, blemishes, and diagnose them, was unable to sufficiently provide for his family and wanted to leave Eretz Yisrael to search for better prospects. When he explained the situation to his wife, he said to her, “Let me teach you the laws of negaim so you can take over for me while I am gone.” He taught her, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu created each hair with its own follicle, which fortifies that hair. When the follicle dries up, the hair dies, which can be an indication of tzaraas.” His wife immediately countered, “If Hashem created every hair with its own follicle for nourishment, of course He can provide livelihood for you, a human being, and your children who are dependent on you.” Therefore, she did not allow him to leave Eretz Yisrael.
The lesson to be taken from this, writes the Ben Ish Chai, is that one should not worry or become concerned over his financial future, but should trust in Hashem, Who can sustain every human being. This should also relieve a person of the fear that another person will take what is rightfully his, a fear that constitutes one of the greatest sources of stress and disease. Chazal (Yoma 38b) tell us, “Ein adam noge’a be’muchan la’chaveiro…afilu ki’melo nima — One person cannot touch what is prepared for his friend…even the extent of a blade of hair.” The analogy of hair is used, says the Ben Ish Chai, because it is hair that shows us this lesson. Although the hairs on a person’s head stand side by side, none infringe on the other; each has its own source of nourishment. Certainly the same is true with man and his fellow.
A similar lesson can be learned from the Gemara (Bava Basra 16a), where Iyov questioned his suffering and his lot in life, asking Hashem if perhaps He confused his name, איוב, with אויב, enemy, for Iyov felt as if he was suffering needlessly. HaKadosh Baruch Hu responded, “I have created many hairs on a person, and for each hair I created its own follicle through which the hair is sustained, so that two hairs should not draw from one follicle. Were this to happen, they would impair a man’s vision. Now, if I do not confuse one follicle with another, would I confuse איוב with אויב?” By simply studying the design of a human hair, we can understand how Hashem is exact in all He does and how He doesn’t err in regard to any punishment, tzaraas included.
The third lesson of the Ben Ish Chai is based on the metzora’s immersion in a mikveh. Like water that naturally flows downward, a baal teshuvah must be brokenhearted and humbled by the sins he has committed. This is the key to having one’s teshuvah accepted by Hashem: “Zivchei Elokim ruach nishbarah leiv nishbar ve’nidkeh Elokim lo sivzeh — The sacrifices G-d desires are a broken spirit; a heart broken and humbled, G-d, You will not despise” (Tehillim 51:19).
The lesson from the Ben Ish Chai in connection with shaving the hair may also relate to the metzora himself. The most common cause of tzaraas is lashon hara. This sin is very often the result of jealousy and resentment, where one views another’s success as an infringement on his own. When I see someone else get the promotion I wanted, this may trigger worries about my own source of parnassah, leading me to belittle him and his abilities to succeed in the more demanding position. Similarly, after seeing my neighbor driving the latest model sports car, I may, out of resentment, say negative and unflattering things about him. In both cases, my own insecurities about money lead me to belittle the other person. Like the Yiddish saying I once heard, “Vehn freit zich ah kleiner? Vehn ehr zeit ah kleiner fuhn zich — When is a small person happy? When he sees someone smaller than himself.”
The freshly shaven head of the metzora teaches otherwise. There are thousands of hairs on a person’s head, all seemingly intermingled. Not seeing the scalp and the individual hairs, one may think that they all share a common source, with one taking vital nutrients from the other. It can seem like a “dog-eat-dog” world, and that all are wrestling for the same prize. Such thoughts can elicit jealousy, and subsequently lashon hora. But by shaving the hair and exposing the truth, such feelings will fall away. Just as every hair has its own follicle from which it grows and is sustained, and no hair infringes on the supply of another, so, too, no human being infringes on the rank or livelihood of another.
Petty resentments and vile lashon hora can be kept at bay by the simple lesson of a blade of hair.April 15, 2021 12:35 am at 12:35 am #1964939Reb EliezerParticipant
When it comes to the sacrifice take two birds a live one and a dead one, an aizov, a cedar tree and a red ribbon. The speech is compared to the chirping of the birds. Bad speach can come from gaiva, cedar tree or being in the pits,giving up, an aizov where neither extreme is good. Whichever contributed to it is a sin a red ribbon. So we slaughter one of the birds adding the above to it to kill of the bad speach, dunk the live one into the mixture and let it go on the field being sure tnat now he will protect himself from bad speach. The mixture is placed on his thumb where the five fingers are against the five senses as explained by the Rabbenu Bachaya at the end of Patashas Tzav. The thumb is against the mouth, speach. We place it on the ear lobe to avoid listening to it. We also place it on the big toe not to walk to bad places which encourages bad speach. The right one is in control.
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