14 Apr 2016 Never Alone
In this week’s parsha, Parshas Metzora, we meet the individual who is now officially labeled as a metzora – one afflicted with the spiritual disease of tzaraas, a spiritual disease which manifests with physical symptoms. The metzora is one who spoke lashon harah – slanderous speech – about others, and who was, therefore, banished to dwell in solitude outside of city limits, while he contemplated the gravity of his sin. As a metzora, we meet him in this week’s parsha when he is ready to repent, return to society and be spiritually and physically healed.
Lev.14:3 – וְיָצָא, הַכֹּהֵן, אֶל-מִחוּץ, לַמַּחֲנֶה; וְרָאָה, הַכֹּהֵן, וְהִנֵּה נִרְפָּא נֶגַע-הַצָּרַעַת, מִן-הַצָּרוּעַ – And the kohen shall go forth to the outside of the camp; the kohen shall look and behold! The tzaraas affliction has been healed from the metzora. Now he is ready to come back, to return to society, to be with people once again… To dwell amongst fellow Jews.
It is compelling to consider his banishment:
Lev.13:46 – כָּל-יְמֵי אֲשֶׁר הַנֶּגַע בּוֹ, יִטְמָא–טָמֵא הוּא: בָּדָד יֵשֵׁב, מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה מוֹשָׁבוֹ – All the days that the affliction is upon him, he shall remain impure; he is impure. He shall dwell in isolation, outside of the camp shall his dwelling be. Rashi teaches that since he caused a divide with his lashon harah between friends and between man and wife, he too will be divided from others.
Perhaps there is a deeper lesson in his banishment, in his solitary dwelling, in his sitting alone.
When the metzora spoke slander, he did so under the impression that he and the listener were alone; there was certainly no one else to hear his poisonous words. As a result of this sin, he is sent to dwell in isolation.
However, a Jew must know, and always remember, that he is never alone. Even when he erroneously and arrogantly presumes that there is no one else present to hear, to see, to listen, to condemn or condone… he is mistaken. The prophet reminds us that מְלֹא כָל-הָאָרֶץ, כְּבוֹדוֹ – The world is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3). Keep in mind, the Sages teach, that there is an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and all of one’s actions are recorded in a Book (Pirkei Avos 2:1).
The one who thought he was alone to slander and degrade others will be sent to dwell alone – alone with One.
The Sages teach that any action in which the intent or act can only be known by the one who performs it, and the nature of such an action is that others do not recognize it, of it it is said, “and you shall fear G-d” (see Rashi to Lev.19:14). Though no one else may see, hear, or know, Hashem certainly Knows, Sees, Hears and Records.
Leave the camp, leave the city, leave society, we tell the metzora, and dwell alone with One. Use this time to contemplate the fact that though you thought you were alone, and hence, you sinned, you are always with Hashem.
Yesterday my son visited the kever of the Ropshitzer Rebe in Poland. At the kever, my son related the following story to the others in his group, which he subsequently shared with me. The Ropshitzer Rebe, zechuso yagein aleinu (may his merit protect us), was well-known for his humor and wit. When he was a young boy, one of his Rabbeim said to him “I will give you five gold coins if you can tell me where Hashem is!” The young boy quickly replied “I will give you five gold coins if you can tell me where Hashem isn’t!”
We are never alone; even when we think (or feel) that we are. He sees our every action, hears our every word and records our every thought. And when we stumble, fall and fail, and we are sent to dwell alone with One, He is waiting, a loving Father, to take us back and help us return.
May we be zocheh to the ultimate return this holy month of Nissan, with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkainu, who will redeem us with everlasting redemption and eternal peace for our people and our Land, amen v’amen.
בברכת שבת שלום,