Erev Shabbos Kodesh Inspiration Tazria-HaChodesh 5774

How should we understand Tzaraas? Spiritual leprosy? The Torah gives us a very explicit hint with the word מצרע as to what the deficiency is in the person who is inflicted with Tzaraas. The word מצרע, which equals 400 in gematria, appears elsewhere in the Torah, with the letters rearranged. One instance is when Lot escapes from Sodom and wishes to settle in the city of מצער, and he tells the angel (Bereishis 19:20) הִנֵּה נָא הָעִיר הַזֹּאת קְרֹבָה לָנוּס שָׁמָּה וְהִיא מִצְעָר אִמָּלְטָה נָּא שָׁמָּה הֲלֹא מִצְעָר הִוא וּתְחִי נַפְשִׁי, Behold now, this city is near to flee there, and it is small. Let me please flee there. Is it not small? And my soul will survive.” The second instance is when it is said (Shemos 21:5-6) וְאִם אָמֹר יֹאמַר הָעֶבֶד אָהַבְתִּי אֶת אֲדֹנִי אֶת אִשְׁתִּי וְאֶת בָּנָי לֹא אֵצֵא חָפְשִׁי: {ו} וְהִגִּישׁוֹ אֲדֹנָיו אֶל הָאֱלֹהִים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ אֶל הַדֶּלֶת אוֹ אֶל הַמְּזוּזָה וְרָצַע אֲדֹנָיו אֶת אָזְנוֹ בַּמַּרְצֵעַ וַעֲבָדוֹ לְעֹלָם, But if the slave says, “I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go free,” his master shall bring him to the judges, and he shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever. Lot escaped Sodom on Pesach, and on Pesach we commemorate our liberation from the Egyptian exile, which originally was supposed to be four hundred years. HaShem had informed Avraham of the future exile and slavery, and Lot did not wish to remain in the sphere of Avraham, so essentially Lot enslaved himself to materialism. Similarly, the Jewishs slave who does not wish to leave his master wishes to perpetuate his slavery, so we bore his ear with a מרצע, an awl, and this reflects the 400 years of slavery. The מצרע, afflicted with spiritual leprosy, also is guilty of self-inflicted slavery.


One reason that Tzaraas comes on a person is if he is a צר עין, stingy. One who does not wish to lend out his possessions to others has a mental constriction, which is also a form of slavery. One who slanders others also does not recognize the good that HaShem has given him, and he is also confined to his sinful habits. The Egyptian exile consisted of physical labor and spiritual contamination. When one gives to others and does not slander his fellow man, he is liberated from being a מצרע, reflecting the four-hundred years of slavery. The commentators write that Esav and his four hundred men represent the epitome of evil in this world. Esav rejected his portion in Eretz Yisroel, which measures four hundred parsah (1 parsah = approximately 3648, 3840 or 4608 meters)  by four hundred parsah, and the Land is the good component of 400 in this world. Esav chose this path because he did not want to undergo the trials and tribulations of the Egyptian slavery which HaShem had forewarned Avraham would last for 400 years (Rashi Bereishis 36:7).


On a  deeper level, however, Easav did not value Eretz Yisroel, which is referred to in the Torah as (Shemos 3:8) אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה וּרְחָבָה , a good and spacious land, and one who does not cherish Eretz Yisroel cannot enter the Land. Similarly, when one does not lend out his possessions or slanders others and Tzaraas appears on his house, he must demolish the house in order to remove the Tzaraas. This is a sign that he is constricted and cannot enjoy the expanse that is manifest in Eretz Yisroel.


HaShem should give us the expansion of knowledge to treat others kindly and then we will merit an end to all our suffering and pain, with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days


Have an EXPANSIVE and slander-free Shabbos!

Rabbi Adler



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