11 April 2008

Shabbat Shalom!


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kreuser SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

7 Nisan 5768/11-12 April 2008


“Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aharon, saying: When you arrive in the land of Cana'an that I give you as a possession, and I will place tzara'at - affliction - upon a house in the land of your possession....”

Last but not least, the Torah in our parsha discusses the laws of houses that were afflicted with tzara'at. Interesting to note that the tzara'at disease only breaks out in Jewish homes in the Land of Israel. Jews living outside the Land do not have to concern themselves with this plague. What is so unique the about tzara'at that it only affects the Jews living in the Land of Israel?

Before we can answer this question, we must understand the scope of devastation of how this disease leaves its mark on the person afflicted. Suddenly, a dark spot appears on one of the walls in his house. He tries to clean it using all types of cleaning agents that are on the market, from Mr. Clean to Fantastic, but to no avail. With no choice, he calls over his neighbor Mr. Cohen, who tells him that before he can come to see the “spot”, he first has to take all of his belongings out of the house in order to be prepared for the worst scenario, that the spot is tzara'at and that everything in the house would then be tamei - spiritually unclean. Slowly, with the help of a few friends all of his household items are taken out of his house and placed in the yard. Finally, after a few good hours of work the job is done, and Mr. Cohen enters the house to check the spot.

The tension is high as Mr. Cohen slowly checks the spot, looking up and down on the wall going over it time and time again. The Mrs. of the house and the children are all gathered outside to hear his verdict. Suddenly, he comes out with a stern face, telling them how sorry he is, but it is definitely tzara'at, and the house must be torn down, all of it - do not leave a stone unturned!

The cries from the afflicted family can be heard all the way down the block. What will we do now? Where will we live? What will be with us? Why did this happen to us?

No other option being available, work on dismantling the house starts the very next day. Slowly the cranes come in and the roof is taken off and then layer by layer the walls come down. For the Mrs. and the children of the house, it's just too much to bear, and they go away so as not to see the destruction of their beloved home. But even the owner cannot bear to see his house come down, and he faints in the midst of the devastation. Suddenly, someone yells out: Hey, what’s this behind the wall over here? It looks like gold! Well, if it looks like gold and it smells like gold, then it must be gold, they cry out. And there is more, much more gold than they have ever seen before. Well, needless to say the owner and his Mrs. are beside themselves with joy over this newfound treasure, that came about only because of the tzara't!

The question is: If Hashem in His great mercy wanted to give to the owner of the house this great treasure, why did He make them go though such hardship first? Why didn’t Hashem just let them have the treasure right away?

There is one answer to both of our questions: To teach us the lesson that the Land of Israel is acquired only though suffering, as the Talmud teaches us. Or, as we say in our day: “No pain, no gain”. Only by first tearing down the house, can the gold be found.

In this day and age of instant pleasure and gratification, the Torah is teaching us the opposite - that anything of real value sometimes has a price to it, sometimes requires self-sacrifice and even pain. For quite often, what comes easily leaves just as easily, and what is acquired though sweat stays forever - the Land of Israel being one of them. Many people today prefer the comforts of living in the exile, rather than the hardships that prevail in the daily life of the Holy Land. Still, the real treasures of life in this world and the next lie in back of the "tzara'at wall", and it's only though tearing it down, that one can get to them. Don’t think there is any other way around it: You either aquire it though suffering now, or you do not aquire it at all.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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