Your Time Is Up
"I will place Tzoraas on your houses"(14:34)
Rashi quotes the Chazal which states that the Emorites,
who lived in Eretz Yisroel during the forty years that the Jews were in the
desert, would hide their valuables in the walls of their homes. Therefore,
Hashem would bring Tzoraas upon these houses so that the home-owners would
find the valuables.
A number of difficulties need to be addressed. First, why did the Jews find
only the valuables hidden during the forty years in the desert and not the
ones hidden before? Second, why does Rashi refer to the inhabitants as
Emorites rather than Canaanites, the generic name for the seven nations
living in Eretz Canaan at the time? What compounds this difficulty is that
the Midrash which Rashi cites does in fact refer to them as Canaanites..
What compelled Rashi to switch the terminology? Furthermore, the verse that
Chazal are expounding upon refers to the land of (Eretz) Canaan, which is
more of a reason to refer to its inhabitants as Canaanites.
At the Bris Bein Habesarim - Covenant of the Pieces, Hashem informed Avraham
that his descendants would be slaves for four hundred years. Only the fourth
generation after Avraham would merit to enter Eretz Yisroel. The reason why
Bnei Yisroel had to wait four generations, as given by the Torah, is that
"ki lo sholeim avon ha'emori", which means that the Emorites had not reached
the level of sin for which they would deserve to be thrown out. When Bnei
Yisroel left Egypt they were supposed to go directly to Eretz Yisroel, and
at that time the Emorites had, in fact, lost their right to live there.
However, Bnei Yisroel were delayed forty years due to the sin of the spies.
Consequently,all the wealth produced by the land for those forty years
already belonged to Bnei Yisroel.
Chazal are telling us that the Emorites' valuables hidden during the forty
years would be discovered by Bnei Yisroel, for they were, in fact, the
rightful owners. Rashi is very specific in his reference to the inhabitants
as Emorites, for this is the term that Hashem used at the Bris Bein
Habesarim when He explained why Bnei Yisroel would have to wait four
generations before they could settle in Eretz Yisroel.
2.Toras Kohanim 5:4
"And the Kohein shall place at the middle part of the ear of the man
This week's parsha records the purification process that the
metzora, an individual with a skin malady, undergoes to permit him to regain
entry into society. The tzora'as malady from which the metzora suffers is a
result of "loshon harah", the slanderous conversation in which the metzorah
has engaged; hence the name metzora from the term "motzi rah" - "one who
brings forth evil". After the metzora is separated for seven days, the
Kohein takes blood from the guilt-offering brought by the metzora and dabs
it on his right ear, thumb and big toe as part of the final purification
process. This process is found on only one other occasion, the
inauguration of the Kohein. Why does the Kohein, who is the most noble and
elevated member of Klal Yisroel, undergo the same process as the individual
who has just been ousted from society as a result of his odious behavior?
The Talmud records that the primordial serpent walked upright and was the
original king of all beasts. After instigating Chava to sin, the serpent was
cursed by the loss of its limbs and the inability to savor its food. The
serpent, which is also the symbol of loshon horah, proclaimed that just as
he is unable to enjoy his food, there is no satisfaction in speaking loshon
harah, "mah yisron l'baal halashon" - "There is no benefit gained from
the speaking of loshon harah." The Talmud relates that while a minority of
people are susceptible to the desires of promiscuity, a majority are tempted
by theft. However, everyone is susceptible to the sin of loshon harah.
Generally, man is motivated by gratification, which explains the temptation
for promiscuity and theft. Why is every man susceptible to the sin of loshon
horah if there is no gratification in this transgression?
Every person has a deep yearning to sense self-worth. Secular society
promotes competition as the forum in which to gauge our worth; we sense our
self-worth vis-à-vis our contemporaries. Unfortunately this manner of
gauging ourselves is fraught with great dangers. We are never truly
encouraged to fully develop our own potential and individuality for success
is achieved by besting others, not by challenging ourselves to be all that
we can be. Furthermore, instead of applying ourselves and developing our
talents we sometimes choose the path of least resistance. We elevate
ourselves by stepping upon others. By putting others down we delude
ourselves into believing that we are better than them. However, instead of
feeling accomplished, we are left feeling empty and unproductive. The
greater a person's potential, the greater the void that is left when he is
unfulfilled. For this reason the greatest cynics and ba'alei loshon horah
who are capable of making the most insulting remarks are usually the most
talented individuals who take the easy way out and attempt to feel
accomplished by belittling others instead of making the effort to develop
themselves in a positive manner.
It is this desire to feel self-worth that fuels a person to speak loshon
harah. Every individual is affected because everyone has the need to feel
fulfilled. The Kohein is the individual who embodies self-accomplishment.
Having developed his potential, he stands out in society. The inaugural
process that he undergoes highlights the fact that he is an outstanding
individual. The message to the metzora is that he too can be an outstanding
individual and it need not be for his negativity. Rather, he should emulate
the Kohein and develop his potential so that he too will be elevated for his