The Root of the Illness
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this week’s portions, the disease of tsara’as is discussed.
is an unusual disease in that it does not come from a failure of the physical
immune system. Rather, it comes from a defect in the spiritual immune system.
order to be cured from this malady, the character root that caused this
spiritual defect must be repaired.
first thing that would happen after the person is declared a metzora — one who
has tsara’as — is he would be sent outside the camp. The reason for this
punishment is obvious. One of the primary reasons a person would get tsara’as
is from speaking lashon hara — slander. A person who slanders his fellow man
does not have the proper relationship with him. He is sent away with the hope
that in his brief exile, he will come to appreciate his fellow man, and not
he must make an offering of two birds, cedar wood, a crimson thread and a
of these elements have symbolism that is meant to help rid him not only his
illness, but its root cause.
birds are used because birds are constantly making squawking and chirping
sounds. This is meant to remind him of the mindless chatter he engaged him,
which had the unfortunate result of someone else being slandered.
People are meant to be in control of what comes out of their mouths.
cedar wood is used because it is a large proud tree. In other situations, cedar
wood is used to remind us to have pride in our relationship with Hashem (cedar
wood is used in many parts of the Mishkan). But while a person is meant to have
pride, he must beware of two things. 1. That
his pride does not interfere in his relationship with his fellow man, in that
although he takes pride in who he is, he does not look down on others. 2.
It does not affect his relationship with Hashem, in that he understands that the
tools that he has, that enabled him to be who he is, were in fact given to him
by Hashem. To properly serve Hashem, one must have a healthy self esteem and
take pride in this relationship. But one also must always have the proper
balance between pride and humility.
crimson thread is used because sin is likened to scarlet thread: “Hashem says,
‘if your sins are like scarlet, they will become white like snow, if they are
red as crimson they will become like wool” (Isiah
hyssop is used to show how low he has fallen through sin, as a hyssop is a lowly
We can learn a beautiful lesson from this process - that every punishment that we receive is only geared to improve us, and situations are always optimized to help us improve.