This weeks double parsha deals
largely with the spiritual malady called tzaras. Since
one of the sins which cause this affliction is loshon hara
or slander, it is considered a paradigm on how to rectify this
When a person speaks badly
about his fellow Jew, he is in effect declaring himself the
final arbiter in the matter and making the assumption that he
knows how that person should have acted.
Perhaps the laws involved in
the process of identifying the tzaras and the required
separation and purification of the individual can show us how
these assumptions are faulty.
The person afflicted with tzaras
cannot make a self- determination. Rather, the Torah requires
one to seek out a Kohen to examine the questionable negah.
Furthermore, although the Torah specifically chooses a Kohen
for this task, if a Kohen has a negah he must appeal
to another Kohen to examine it. From this we deduce the rule,
"A person can not see his own faults - Ain Adam ro'eh
The first lesson therefore
to be learned is that one must question his own impartiality
before speaking badly of another. Perhaps he stands to gain
by pointing out anothers faults. Furthermore, perhaps
on some level he has the very fault he wishes to blame on the
other. HE JUST CANT SEE IT.
After the purification process
is complete the metzorah must offer a sacrifice commensurate
with his economic level. A rich man can not be atoned with a
sacrifice that would be sufficient for the poor. The Chofetz
Chaim derives from this that those who are rich in Torah knowledge
can not be satisfied with the lenience used by the less learned.
Each person's sacrifices to serve Hashem must parallel his degree
The metzorah has to
learn that he cant possibly judge others. Does he know
the level of Torah knowledge or the level of sacrifice that
his fellow has? With this viewpoint in mind, he will instead
gain respect for those around him. As the Ramban writes in his
Iggeres HaRamban, one should "consider that others
sin by mistake while he sins intentionally, therefore, they
are more righteous."
Perhaps this is also why the
metzorah is also sent out of the city. He needs to not
only stop judging others but also to stop worrying about how
others are evaluating him. He has to leave behind his biases
and develop a level of service of Hashem that is corresponding
to his Torah knowledge and strive to fulfill the mission on
earth that is uniquely his.
Parsha Encounters is © 1998 by the Chicago Community
Published May 2, 1998