Two weeks of tzaraas? Can we handle reading so much about a person who speaks Lashon Hara, evil speech, and gets punished in such a harsh manner? Perhaps we can focus on Pesach, which is just around the corner, and upon examining one less discussed topic of the redemption, we can gain a better understanding of tzaraas. The Torah instructs us to redeem the firstborn son and the firstborn donkey must be redeemed through a sheep. The simple understanding of these mitzvos is that the Jewish People were in a precarious situation in Egypt, as they were deserving to die along with the Egyptians (Medrashim are replete with declarations of the Sea and the Angel of the Sea not wishing to split the Sea because both the Jews and the Egyptians were idolaters). HaShem, in His Infinite Mercy, saved the Jewish firstborns by redeeming them through the Egyptian firstborn. Thus, these mitzvos are all about redemption. However, there is another aspect to the redemption of the firstborn, and that is that that we were redeemed in the month of Nissan, the first month of the Jewish year, and for that reason we are commanded to redeem the firstborn son and firstborn donkey. How does this connect to the idea of tzaraas?
Rashi tells us in this weeks parasha that when someone is afflicted with tzaraas on his house, it is good news for that person, because the Amorites concealed their treasures while the Jews were wandering in the Wilderness. When the person whose house is afflicted with tzaraas removes the stones that are tamei, he will discover the treasures that were hidden within. What is the rationale for this portent? Should the sinner who spoke Lashon Hara or the like and was punished with tzaraas now be rewarded with gold and silver?
The answer to this question is that the one who was afflicted with tzaraas now begins to understand that he must change his ways, and go from a state of impurity to purity. This is the function of tzaraas. HaShem could have punished the person in many ways, but he chose tzaraas as His instrument to show the person the way for repentance. In a similar vein, HaShem exchanged the Jewish people for the Egyptians and their donkeys, which are both symbols of impurity. This exchange was specifically done with the firstborn to reflect the idea that one can ascend from an impure place and renew his commitment to HaShem.
Have a Spiritually Ascending Shabbos!