We are living in a world that seems to be moving towards upheaval and confusion. We see signs of that upheaval all around us. How are we to understand those signs. How wary must we be of reading too much into those signs? In the parsha we see that there was a time when G-d openly used signs and wonders to help us re-navigate back towards Him and His purpose. The malady of Tzaraat was such a sign.
This malady was not a physical ailment that was only skin deep but rather a spiritual manifestation of something that went much deeper. Our sages point to the word for the the Metzorah,the leprous one , a name that whispers of the words Motzi Ra ( brings out evil).
Many of our sages connected the malady to the sin of Motzi Shem Ra ( He who speaks slander of another). Such slanderous behavior constitutes one of the greatest of sins .G-d has given mankind the power of speech. It is that power that separates mankind from all other creation. It is the same power that G-d used to create the world .Our abuse of it , on the other hand, can do the opposite and destroy worlds. The inner corruption of a soul that separates one from his holy essence and from his people results in the spiritual eruption of the tsaraat
It was an illness that began in a progressive fashion by first affecting the clothing ,and then the house and then the body of one who has spiritually wounded his inner soul. According to the Rambam, this progression was part of the cure (Rambam, Hilchot Tumat Tzaraat 16:10 ) Rambam saw the purpose of tzaraat as a means to wean the people of Israel away from the abuse of the Divinely sourced power of speech.
The Sephorno goes even further in describing the benefits of Tzaraat and describes it as being an act of loving-kindness and mercy for the people. It was HaShem’s way of allowing physical reality to mirror and actually reveal the impediments in the inner workings of one’s soul.
The “metzora” is therefore disqualified from both his national and his individual mission. We see that this individual smitten with this spiritual skin disease is made to live alone outside the camp (Leviticus 13:46) This enforced solitude symbolizes on the one hand the metzora’s decisions to separate from his people and his holy essence , while at the same time prodding him towards tshuva .
The metzorah phenomenon existed, though ,in a time when G-d , in an act of mercy ,allowed the physical reality to mirror and reveal impediments in the inner workings of our soul. The Kuzari writes that this phenomenon existed only when the people of Israel were living their lives on a higher spiritual realm. They were living in a time when G-d’s hand was clearly more visiblein their day to day existence.
This is not our reality.
We are living in a time of G-d’s hiding.As G-d declares ” And He said, “I will hide My face from them. I will see what their end will be, for they are a generation of changes” (Deuteronomy 32:2). We are living in a time wherein HaShem waits for us to find Him. As a result throughout our long voyage of exile we have been bidden to search deeper and contemplate more intensely to uncover those impediments. For it is in that search that our soul will be redeemed.
Perhaps we must now look around us and find the modern day parallels to the Metzorah affliction. Perhaps as history tumbles towards its purpose we must examine every event in our individual and national lives and search out the spiritual impediments in our own souls. Perhaps we can examine the earthquakes and turmoil around us and use them as a prod and opportunity to search more deeply into ourselves and to look more intently towards the Heavens. We may not understand the signs fully but within the search lies the redemption.
We cannot afford to miss the signs