By: Rabbi Yehuda Horowitz,
Mashgiach Ruchani, Mesivta Ateres Yaakov
In last week’s parsha we are taught the halachos of a metzorah. The tzoraas was a skin disease which wasn’t due to the physical deficiency of the body, rather it was a heaven sent message of the spiritual shortcomings of the one who was tamei. He would have to leave the entire camp of Bnei Yisroel and remain alone until he was purified. Our Chazal relate that tzaraas was due to the aveirah of lashon harah and that since this person separated people through his behavior, he must now remain isolated.
Rav Avraham Pam zt’l would comment that Baruch Hashem our generation has made great strides in shemiras hadibur. The campaign against lashon harah has educated us to be careful of speaking improperly. However, we should actually focus more on the root of this aveirah. The person who speaks lashon harah is perceiving things in a negative fashion and his heart is filled with bad feelings. We must train our eyes and heart to see the good in everyone we come into contact with, so that the battlefield will never come to our lips.
The Nesivos Sholom explains that a metzorah sees things in a negative manner, as the word metzorah implies “ERWCM,” everything is found to be bad. Therefore, the metzorah can’t go to just any rabbi to determine his status. Only a Kohen can rule on the tzoraas. The tendency of Aharon HaKohen was to love peace and harmony, and to see the goodness in every Jew. He can teach the metzorah how to be an optimistic, positive person who radiates joy and encouragement to others.
Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt’l would say that our face is actually for others and therefore without a mirror we cannot even see our face. It has enormous potential to bring cheer to everyone else. HoRav Binyomin Kamenetzky shlit”a adds that it’s interesting to note that the main thrust of our heart’s ability to pump life and warmth into our bodies is on the left side of a person. Being that our right side is always considered to be more vital, this seems surprising. He explains that we must utilize our hearts to warm and encourage others and therefore our heart is situated facing the right side of those that we encounter.
The ability to have a positive effect on others depends very much on being optimistic and joyful. Rav Yonasan Rosenblum shlit”a relates that at his Shabbos table in Eretz Yisroel he had a couple who were Baalei Teshuvah. The husband was very prominent in the world of Hollywood shows and Rabbi Rosenblum asked him how he was inspired to be chozer biteshuvah.
He responded that on a Shabbos morning in Hollywood he and two Jewish friends were sitting in a restaurant when they noticed a couple and their children walking home with remarkable togetherness and happiness. One of the young men asked, “What’s their secret?” Another one answered that they’re Orthodox and are returning from Synagogue. This really touched him and that night he contacted an organization that offers learning partners on the telephone. Eventually, all three became religious and are raising beautiful families. One is in Yerushalayim spending time in Mir Yeshiva, another is in Baltimore near Ner Yisroel, and the third one returned to L.A. after having studied in Mir Yeshiva. The remarkable thing is that the family that is responsible for generations to come doesn’t even know how much they accomplished by just being so joyful and united!
Let us truly find the good in everyone, and use that as a foundation for friendship and inspiration against the terrible effects of tzoraas. May we be zoche to use this friendship as a path towards the geulah shleimah, bimheirah biyameinu.
Originally Published in Ateres HaShavua, a Weekly Torah Publication from the Students of Mesivta Ateres Yaakov