April 27, 2012

There is little question that some parshiot are easier to write about than others.  Most will agree that this week’s is a toughie.

We are faced with an illness that is part spiritual and part physical.  In a nutshell, the malady, Tzara-at, is a discoloration of a person’s skin, clothing, and hair.  All agree that it is in no manner akin to leprosy.  It even appears on the walls of someone’s house.

Both Rashi and Maimonides note the initial appearance of Tzara-at will be on a person’s home.  We see that when that happens the affected stones are required to be removed.  That is the first part of the message.  If the person continues his sinful ways, the next thing affected is his clothing.  If he or she still has not corrected what is making this happen, his or her skin is infected, and he or she is ostracized and excluded from the community until the disease goes away AND a Kohen verifies that he or she is acceptable to return.

Rashi brings out that Tzara-at is in reality a blessing with its initial appearance.  How did he come to such a conclusion?  He goes on to say that Tzara-at on one’s home could bring one wealth.  What could he possibly have meant???  Rest assured, he knows.

Rashi on Leviticus 14:34 reveals  “…eruptions will come upon them because the Amorites hid treasures of gold in the walls of their houses throughout the forty years the Israelites were in the desert and by means of the eruption [the Israelite] tears down the house and finds them.”   Specifically, we find the Israelites removing the stones affected with Tzara-at and, fortuitously, finding gold behind them!

The obvious question arises---if you sin, do you get the gold?  Rashi, in his wisdom, deciphered the question, and I can only hope you will take his “take” to heart.

As soon as you hear it, it makes perfect sense.  God is telling the sinners to look deeper.  All they see are the stones afflicted with Tzara-at.  If they dig just a little, they will find gold.  Life is the same way---we need to look beyond what we first see, to see what is under the first layer.  If we take the time to look beneath the surface, we can begin to find true meaning in our lives.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham