|Photo: Gordon McBryde|
In the merit of Esther Rivka bat Moshe - on her second yarzheit may her neshama have an Aliya.
Text by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto Shlita
“Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon, saying: If a person will have on the skin of his flesh a s’eit, or a sapachat, or a baheret, and it will become a tzaraat affliction on the skin of his flesh; he shall be brought to Aharon the Kohen, or to one of his sons the Kohanim” [Vayikra 13:1-2]
A person is inflicted with tzaraat for speaking lashon hara [Arachin 15b]. The Torah relates [Bamidbar 12:1-10] how Miriam the Prophetess, the sister of Moshe Rabbeinu, was inflicted with tzaraat for speaking lashon hara about Moshe, discussing his separation from his wife, Tzipporah. Miriam did not intend to disparage her brother; nonetheless, she was punished. How much more so will a person be punished for speaking degradingly about his fellow with premeditated intentions.
The tzaraat does not immediately appear on the body of a person. First the disease afflicts the walls of his home. If the person does not awaken to do teshuvah from this ominous sign, then the disease begins to spread to his household appliances. If he still does not correct his ways, then it spreads to his clothing. Thereafter, the disease appears on his skin and flesh [Rambam, Tumat Tzaraat 16:10]. From this progression, we observe the infinite compassion of Hashem. Hashem does not hurry to punish His children. He first awakens them to teshuvah through external factors. However, if people do not pay attention to the signs that Hashem is sending them from Heaven, the tzaraat gets closer and closer. From this subject we see how Hashem is Slow to Anger, and Abundant in Kindness. He does not strike the sinner immediately, but instead, seeks to grant him the opportunity to reflect on his deeds and do teshuvah to atone for his sins.
The Rav of Ponovezh, zt”l, says that from the disease of tzaraat, one can learn an important lesson. In the beginning, only small signs of the disease appear on the walls of his house. However, if the person does not do teshuvah, he will ultimately be excommunicated and be forced to remain outside of the Camp for a long period of time until he repents completely. From this one can conclude that when a person does not make an accounting of his deeds, he will begin to deteriorate. There are times when a person transgresses in a trivial matter. However, because he does not immediately do teshuvah, he can easily become accustomed to transgressing and thus descend to the depths of corruption.
Therefore, a person should examine his deeds regularly and immediately do teshuvah for the sins he committed each day. In this way, the sins will not become strongly rooted within him, making it very difficult for him to do teshuvah.