This weeks parsha discusses the affliction of tzara’as that occurs on ones house; nigei batim. The pasuk says (14; 33) ‘When you come to the land of Cana’an, which I am giving you as a possession, and I place a lesion of tzara’as upon a house in the land of your possession.’
Rashi comments that it’s’ a ‘besura tova’, good news, because the Emorim who lived there for the forty years while klal Yisroel traveled in the midbar hid their gold and silver in the wall of their houses. Now, through this tzara’as, they would find the treasure that was buried there.’
The apparent question here is twofold: Firstly, why is Hashem allowing us to get money in such a way? Why did we have to receive the money in such a peculiar fashion? Secondly, aren’t we letting a choteh be nischar (allowing a sinner to get rewarded)? Why is someone who does an aveira receiving a reward of treasures full of money?
To answer this, we must first explain the fundamental difference between the Torah way and the non-Torah way-of one who receives a punishment.
In the United States Judicial system, if a person commits a crime and is convicted, he goes to jail. When the felons sit around in jail, what do they discuss amongst themselves? What crimes they’ve committed, how they were caught, and probably how to prevent it from happening again. They are basically harboring classes on criminality. Upon their departure from jail, they have learnt better methods of how to commit their crimes. However, when the Torah punishes a person, the intentions are to make the person an improved person. Bais Din put a person that kills accidentally with talmidei chachamim, so that he won’t do the same thing again. The United States Judicial system punishes to punish. The Ribono Shel Olam punishes to make a person better. We give him measures to help him make himself a better person. The punishment of tzara’as, says the gemara in Yoma (11b) ‘comes from a person being stingy.’ The gemara darshens it from a pasuk that if a person doesn’t lend his neighbor and he is stingy, what will ultimately happen is that he will come to have tzara’as on his house. Such a punishment will force him to remove all of his belongings outside on the street prior to the kohen coming and declaring his house tamei. Thus, allowing his neighbors to see that he really did have the items they asked him to borrow. When the kohen comes back after this whole process-to make the house pure again in order that he can resume living there,-he has to mix different ingredients together and sprays the doorposts with blood.
Says the Meshech Chochma the reason why we spray the doorposts and not the actual house (which was declared tamei) is to teach him that it’s time to open up your door and stop being so miserly.
The reason for tzara’as on one’s home is to educate a person that he has to improve himself. The root of the problem is that the person thinks it is all mine; I’m not giving it away to anyone else. Such an attitude usually takes place when a person works hard for something, after which he finally gets paid and sees the fruit of his labor-thinking it was his money; it’s not for anyone else.
The Ribono Shel Olam is telling us when you arrive in eretz Yisroel, it will a new land. If one were to get tzara’as they would have to dismantle their house and by doing so they may find a treasure of money. Such a person, who breaks down his house due to tzara’as, cannot take credit for the riches that are found in the walls. It is quite obvious that it is a present from Hashem.
The lesson to learn from here is that not only the gold in the walls of your house come from Hashem but so too everything you have is a gift from Hashem. Just as the jewels in the walls was a gift from Hashem so too is your weekly paycheck a gift from Hashem. The whole concept of negaim is not to be stingy, cheap, or self centered. This person who was stingy and was now forced to knock down his house and found the money had to realize that this was a wakeup call. Nothing is ‘yours’-it’s all from Hashem…