Rashi writes something that is bewildering. When you come into the Land and find tzaraas on your house, this is good news. The reason for this is because while the Jewish People were sojourning in the Wilderness, the Amorites were busy hiding their gold and silver in the walls of their homes so the Jews wouldn’t be able to find it. When the house was afflicted with tzaraas, the Jew was forced to dismantle his home and then he received his reward of gold and silver. The difficulty with this is that tzaraas was not a physical malady but a spiritual one. This being the case, it would appear unjustified to afflict a person with tzaraas and simultaneously reward him.
Last year we discussed the word מצרע, which equals 400 in gematria. This year I would like to add a dimension to that idea. Prior to the Exodus, HaShem instructed Moshe to plead with the Jewish People to take gold, silver, and clothing from the Egyptians. the Gemara (Brachos 9a-b) states that Hashem had to instruct Me to beg the Jews to take jewelry so that Avraham Avinu should not complain to HaShem, “the slavery to Egypt You fulfilled, but the promise of going out with great riches You didn’t fulfill.” The Gemara likens this to one who is imprisoned and is then informed that he will be freed and granted great wealth. The prisoner responds, “ it is sufficient fi I get out of jail and I don’t obtain wealth. Nonetheless, HaShem shows the Jewish People that their tenure in servitude was rewarded by taking the Egyptian’s wealth. Similarly, when a person is afflicted with tzaraas, he is sequestered from the rest of the camp and he has time to ponder how he got to this place of solitude. Once he repents, he sees the light of Hashem’s kindness to him and there can be no greater reward than that.
The Emorites hid their gold and silver, a metaphor to the hidden desires inside a Jew to come close to HaShem. There is a Talmudic dictum that “we force a person until he acquiesces,” i.e. even if open does not appear to desire the performance of a mitzvah, we know that the desire is merely dormant and we just have to force it out of him. This was as the function of tzaraas. When one saw tzaraas on his home, he “discovered” the gold and silver within, i.e. the opportunity to repent and come close again to HaShem. If tzaraas on the house was insufficient to relay this message, then one would be afflicted with tzaraas on the clothing and ultimately with tzaraas on his body. In the end, hopefully, he would absorb the message that HaShem loves him and only seeks his good.
We should merit in these turbulent times to realize that all the punishments and all the suffering is HaShem’s way of convincing us to return to Him with all our hearts and all our souls.
Have a Self-Aware Shabbos