This week’s parsha-post is dedicated as a refuah shelema for Bracha Leah bas Shulamis, and all the infirm of Klal Yisrael in the merit of Shabbos Kodesh.

Shabbat Shalom/Good Shabbos/ Gut Shabbos Kodesh!


“Adam ki yihiyeh v’oar-basaro s’ais oh safachas oh baheres v’hayah v’oar basaro l’nega tzara’as v’huva el-Aharon haKohein oh el achad mibanav hakohanim – When a person has on the skin of his body a s’ais, or a safachas, or a baheres, and it develops into a tzara’as affliction on the skin of his body, it shall be reported to Aharon the Kohein (Gadol), or to one of his sons, the kohanim.”  (Vayikra 13:2 {Parshat Tazria}) *

Let’s try to seek some clarity, and shed some light on these rather strange ideas.  Today, we’ll look into the commentary of a Chassidic master.


A person may have thoughts of teshuvah, and they’ll take on something to connect to Hashem, such as a new mitzvah.  But the individual of this case, has one problem:  his teshuvah isn’t really internalized.  Yes, they think of teshuvah, they speak of it, and they take on a new mitzvah…  But they haven’t necessarily done the “inside work” , and therefore haven’t made tikkun for (rectified) the wrongdoings of their past.

Let us discuss the three aforementioned afflictions of our verse, from a spiritual perspective.  Now, we can discover the real moral behind the words– the soul within the story.

“S’ais” comes from the Hebrew word “shenisav – he lifts up”.  One who has s’ais, his heart feels lifted.  He contemplated teshuvah, and was inspired by the thoughts.

“Safachas” is rooted in the word “safachnia”, which connotes ‘connecting’.  One ‘afflicted’ with safachas, thinks of connecting to great tzaddikim (righteous people).

“Baher – Brilliance”,” is the source of the term “Baheres”, since one with this problem of baheres, was sparked, and illuminated by Hashem’s wisdom.

But as wonderful and elevated as these all seem, we can’t fall prey to the illusion that these individuals are truly changed.  All of these cases, are still external displays of teshuvah, of a true personal turnaround for the better…  That is why the verse says “v’oar basaro – on the skin, or in the flesh“!  This teshuvah hasn’t fully penetrated the person, and he hasn’t fixed the “mistakes of his youth”.

This is their affliction!

In order to find healing from these sorry states, the stricken man must go to a tzadik.  He is key in inspiring him to find true change.  To perform and integrate true teshuvah.

Some refer to great tzadikkim as “Kohanim”, for they are the ethical and spiritual leaders of the generation.  You seek assistance and answers from them, just as it was done with Aharon the Kohein, or his sons.

When we reach these levels of complete teshuvah, repentance and self-improvement, we’ll merit sincere Yiras Hashem (awe of G-d), and serve Him b’maalei b’libo– with full hearts.


Incredible, no?

The Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai) in fact teaches ‘Woe to the one who thinks that the Torah is made up of mere words and stories!’  What we just learned together is the real spirit behind the script.

Each of these afflictions is double sided;  the physical plague, right on the skin, and its spiritual equivalent.  The latter side is what we are probably more likely to suffer from today…

So watch out– stay well, stay strong, and don’t lose hope.  Even if you’re only at the stage of outward expression in your own teshuvah, you’ve started along the journey.  You might need some guidance along the way, but you’re very soon going to reach your ultimate goal– sincere change you can really feel inside, and a full heart!

The Messenger Bird

* (Footnote:  The literal translations in my Tanach for s’ais, safachas, and baheres were “a swelling”, “a rash”, and “a discoloration”.)