Tazria-Metzora 2021 Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
The Leper Has Been Cured
This parsha discusses the laws of leprosy and its cure. Of all the parshiot in the Torah, this parsha is perhaps the most relevant in regard to what we have experienced in the past year of Covid. This parsha deals with sickness and its cure, with seclusion and periodical checking, with (spiritual) contamination/impurity of objects by a person, and with stages of the cure. It is known that the leprosy the Torah talks about came primarily due to wrongful or ill speech and slander called “lashon hara.” Indeed, there have been many who have been awakened by Covid to be more careful about their tongue and speech (some even putting “lashon hara doesn’t talk to me” on their masks). Here we are not saying that the “reason” for Covid is lashon hara, but rather that this time is an opportunity for us to be awakened by the events that have transpired upon us, examine our speech, and bridle our mouths effectively even when the masks will be far gone.
The leprosy described in the Torah is not a regular illness but was rather a special Divine omen of impurity when Israel was (and will be) in their more proper spiritual state. Many works have been dedicated to studying the concept of purity and its ramifications, but in a nutshell, in order to understand purity, we need to understand impurity. Unlike the concept of holiness, which is a concept independent from its opposite, the concept of purity is always used in the context of impurity (Zohar, Chukat). In the Gemara Yoma (39a), R. Yishmael connects the word “tuma,” impurity, to “timtum,” stupidity. But what kind of stupidity is referred to by the word “timtum”? In Hebrew there is a similar word, “tumtum,” which means someone whose reproductive organs are blocked by skin or tissue to the extent that their gender is unknown. So too, we may say that the stupidity of “timtum” means a blockage (timtum) of the channels of the soul, causing the inaccessibility of truth, wisdom, inspiration, and the like. To give an example, one may have a perfectly fine radio located in a prime location where it can receive radio signals, but if there is an obstruction between the antennae and the radio device one will hear lots of static, confusing and frustrating the listener. Similarly, one who is troubled with the spirit of impurity picks up “static” that confuse him or her, making it difficult to remain focused on relationships, spirituality, or even faith in God. Now we can better understand the concept of purity. Purity means opening the channels of the soul to connect to Hashem.
Opening the channels yet again leads us to proper speech. Speech is one of our outmost channels of connection to others. Therefore, when this channel is misused it is no wonder that impurity ensues. On the contrary, let us fill our hearts with love and kindness towards each other, stemming from our common Patriarchal roots and their “kindness of the Patriarchs,” and thereby renew the channels of connection – “hibur-Hebron” – between us and our fellow man, through good and uplifting speech and thought.
“One day, after not answering the public phone next to my Kollel for several months, I answered the phone. The call “happened” to be for me. I was told that my Tanach had been given away in Maarat HaMachpela and “happened” to reach the hands of my friend David, who took it for safe-keeping. Several hours later, I “happened” to meet David at the men’s mikveh, after I hadn’t seen him for several months, and he subsequently returned my lost Tanach.