This dvar Torah was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah portion. Good Shabbos!
The end of parshas Tazria deals with Tza’ra’as [the spiritual blemish often (mis)translated as leprosy] that appears on clothing. The pasuk [verse] says, “The kohen will see the garment after it was washed, [vhenay lo hofach hanega es ayno] and he sees that the nega [blemish] has not changed, the garment is unclean, you should burn it in fire.”
The pasuk uses interesting language: “vhenay lo hofach hanega es ayno,” which means that the appearance of the nega has not changed. This is actually an idiomatic expression. The word “ayno” literally means “eye,” and the expression literally means, “The blemish has not changed its eye.”
I saw a beautiful insight, quoted in the name of the Chidushai HaRim. The Gemara in Meseches Ayrachin says that a number of avayros [sins] can cause tza’aras. The most commonly knownavayrah is loshon horah [evil tongue; slander]. However, theTalmud in Meseches Ayrachin also says that the punishment oftza’aras comes “al tzoras ho’ayin.” Tzoras ho’ayin [literally – narrowness of eye] does not only mean a person who is tight-fisted or cheap. A tzar ayin is a person who never sees the good side of anything and always sees evil. It is the opposite of a generosity of spirit. It is a stinginess, regarding not only money, but regarding viewing life, in general. A tzar ayin is a person who does not like to see other people’s success. The only success that he is interested in is his own success.
If tzoras ho’ayin causes tza’ra’as, then the tikun [correction] that causes the tza’ra’as to go away, is the person doing teshuva[repenting] and switching from being a tzar ayin to a tov ayin. That means that one who is like a student of Bilom HaRoshoh, who Chazal say had this trait of tzoras ho’ayin, of stinginess of spirit, must change to become from the students of Avrohom Avinu – to become a tov ayin [one with a good eye]. If thetza’ra’as stays the same and does not get better, the garment is unclean and the person does not have a tikun for his avayrah.
The Chidushai HaRim says that there is a double meaning when the pasuk says, “vhenay lo hofach hanega es ayno” – “and behold, the tza’ra’as did not change its appearance.” “Lo hofach hanega es ayno” – His ayin [eye] did not change. In order to doteshuva, this person’s ayin must change. He must change from being a tzar ayin to being a tov ayin. The pasuk is hinting to us, “Vhenay lo hofach hanega es ayno.” His ayin did not change. He has the same stinginess, the same unwillingness to share and be generous.
“Ayno,” here, does not merely mean that the appearance did not change, but the ayin did not change. The tzoras ayin, the avayrahthat brought on this terrible punishment, is still in place.
The Chidushai HaRim continues with a classic chasidishe vort: The word “nega” is really the same word as the word “oneg.” What is the entire difference between the word “oneg” – pleasure and the word nega [in the Hebrew lettering]?
The only difference is the placement of the [letter] “ayin.” The “nun” and the “gimel” are in the same places. The only difference is whether the “ayin” is at the beginning or at the end. What is the difference between “nega” and “oneg?” What is the difference between a person having tza’ra’as and a person having pleasure? It all depends on the placement of the “ayin.” That is this person’s problem. The problem is with the “ayin.” His problem is with his perspective and his approach to life. His problem is with his ayin, so his tikun must be “hofach hanega es ayno.” He must change his “ayin.” He must take the “ayin” from the word “nega” and make it into “oneg.”
However, if someone is so stingy of spirit that he cannot be gracious and he cannot see the good side of life, then he remains a metzorah and “henay lo hofach hanega es ayno” – the negaremains and he must burn the garment because he is incapable of changing his “ayin.” He is incapable of changing his perspective.
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem[email protected]
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]
This write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah Portion. The halachic topics covered for the current week’s portion in this series are:
- Tape # 007 – Self-Defense
- Tape # 051 – Moser: The Dilemma of the Jewish IRS Agent
- Tape # 094 – Hallel on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?
- Tape # 142 – Eyeglasses in Halacha
- Tape # 189 – Mikveh: Tevillah and Chaziza
- Tape # 279 – Women’s Testimony in Hilchos Niddah
- Tape # 325 – The Microscope in Halacha
- Tape # 369 – Bris Millah That Causes Chilul Shabbos
- Tape # 413 – Speaking Lashon Horah on Baalei Machlokes
- Tape # 457 – Getting an Aliyah After Childbirth
- Tape # 501 – Milah and the Sick Baby
- Tape # 545 – Dangerous Medical Procedures
- Tape # 589 – Pidyon Haben – Daytime or Night?
- Tape # 633 – Lashon Harah and Lashon HaTov
- Tape # 677 – Tallis Koton — Wool or Cotton?
- Tape # 721 – Eruv Pesach – Mores Special Than You Think
- Tape # 765 – How Many Mitzvos of Sefira Are There?
- Tape # 809 – Netilas Yadayim – Things You Never Knew
- Tape # 853 – Mila on Shabbos: Fascinating Questions
- Tape # 897 – Insights Into Sefiras Ha’Omer
- Tape # 942 – Kiddush Hashem – Is Everyone Obligated?
- Tape # 984 – “What’s Tonight’s Sefira?” and other Sefira Issues
- Tape #1028 – Davening Maariv Early: Does it Make it Tomorrow?
- Tape #1073 – Bracha Achrona – How Fast Or How Slow Must One Eat?
Tapes or a complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.