This week’s Torah portion, Parashas Metzora, talks about the purification process for somebody who has tzara’as, the spiritual skin disease that we learned about last week.
First, the kohen, priest, has to examine the person and decide if the tzara’as has gone away. Two birds are then used in a purification process, at the end of which one is slaughtered and one is set free. After this, the person who was afflicted with tzara’as may re-enter the camp but may not move back into his home for seven days. At the end of these seven days, he shaves, immerses in water, and then proceeds to bring some offerings to complete his purification and atonement process.
Tzara’as can also afflict somebody’s house. An afflicted house is diagnosed by the kohen. If after being quarantined (isolated) for a week, the house does not get better, the house too goes through a cleaning process. If the house still doesn’t lose its affliction, the house is destroyed. If it does get better after the cleaning process, the house can be purified and used again.
The parasha continues to speak about different ways that a person can become spiritually impure and pure.
Afflicting a house with tzara’as is such an interesting concept to me. How does a person deserve such a punishment? Did the house do something wrong? What does it teach a person?
Often, the reason that a person’s house gets afflicted with tzara’as is because he was stingy with his possessions. A stingy person does not like to share his things; if his neighbors ask to borrow even a small item, he does not like to lend it. He doesn’t enjoy giving money to the poor, and often doesn’t have display much mercy and kindness to other people.
When a person’s house becomes afflicted, the kohen tells him to remove all of his possessions from his home. Why? When all of this man’s clothes, books, furniture and tools get displayed in the street for the whole world to see, he can become very embarrassed at his stinginess – now everybody knows exactly what he owns! If his friend asked him to borrow a hammer and he told him he doesn’t have one (so he wouldn’t have to lend it), now his neighbor sees in broad daylight that he actually has three hammers!
This is punishment enough for a stingy person!
Another reason that the person removes his possessions from his house is because if his earthenware/clay vessels remain in the contaminated house, they too will become contaminated, and will then have to be thrown out. There is no way to remove spiritual impurity from a clay vessel.
If a person’s home in the time of the Torah became contaminated enough to be destroyed, there was actually a bonus for the house’s owner. Hidden in the walls of many homes was treasure left by the Emori people. Before the Jewish people took possession of the land of Israel, the Emorim, who lived there before, knew that they’d be losing their homes. They didn’t want the Jews to get all of their riches, however, so they hid them in the walls of their houses!
So a stingy person whose home was being destroyed because of tzara’as got a prize! How does that make sense?
Hashem is giving this stingy person a chance to fix his ways! First the man learns a lesson by having to put all his possessions out in the street. He learns the value of every small thing by the Torah‘s instructions to remove his possessions so his earthenware vessels won’t have to be destroyed. Now he has a new treasure, and his new test is to see if he has learned from his experience.
Will he use this newfound fortune the right way? Will he share with his fellow Jew?
Look how incredible that is! Not only does Hashem provide a way to purify a person who’s made mistakes, but He even gives this person a gift to be able to do better in the future!
Do you ever wish you had a second chance to prove yourself after a mistake?
(based on a d’var Torah from torah.org)
Listening to Yedid Nefesh by Regesh on the album Regesh 3 – Shabbos on jewishmusicstream.com, my favorite place for Erev Shabbos music!
I hope your Pesach cleaning and cooking are going well! Enjoy!!!