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Metzora Midrash Top
Metzora Midrash Bottom
Okay, we all know by now that Tzora'at, trivially translated as "leprosy" isn't quite so. Actually, this spiritual disease takes on an interesting spirit of it's own. For one thing, it leaves your social life hanging by a hair. And where else but in the Torah would a Kohain be better qualified than a doctor to treat a patient. But here's the strange thing: not only does he make house calls but sometimes he calls on houses!

Houses? Why would Hashem strike an inanimate object like a house?

Hashem doesn’t immediately send Nega'im (Tzora'at spots) to a person’s body. If he deserves a punishment, Hashem will strike his house first, If the person does Teshuva, good. If not, his clothing gets it next. If he still doesn't get the hint, the leper has truly earned his spots - the Nega'im (Tzora'at spots) finally make an appearance on his body.

But if the order is house, clothing, then body, why does the Torah first discuss the Nega’im on the body, then the spots in clothing, and then the spots in the house?

The Torah teaches us a good lesson. When a father is punishing his child, he says, "I should really slap you in the face because you were a bad kid, but because I love you, I am going to hit you on your clothing." Then he reconsiders and says, "I wanted to hit you on your clothing, but I love you so much that I’m going to give you another chance, and I’m only going to strike the wall." If you get the message, you won’t misbehave again.

Hashem did the same thing in the Torah. First He told us the laws of the Nega’im on the body, saying, "You really deserve to be stricken on the skin, but I’m willing to give you another chance, and I'll just send Nega’im on your garments." Then Hashem goes even further and says, "I will send the Nega’im on your house, then maybe you’ll get the message."

Let’s return to the reasons for the house infections.

The most popular reason for Nega’im is Lashon Horah. Another reason for Nega’im is stinginess. Let’s say your neighbor comes to borrow a spaghetti strainer. But you lie and tell him that you don’t have one. You think to yourself, "Why should I give this guy MY spaghetti strainer. Let him go down the block and buy one for himself." Well, that's a no-no. The fact is everything comes from Hashem, and Hashem gave you property to do Mitzvot with. You should share that spaghetti strainer with a friend in need.

Well, Hashem doesn't go for that kind of stingy attitude. He sends a plague on his house. The Kohain will be by forthwith for a "house call," but first the owner must remove everything from the house as fast as he can. Of course, he'll be asking all his neighbors for a helping hand.

Among his possessions, guess what shows up? The spaghetti strainer! His neighbor sees it. "Aha, here’s the spaghetti strainer I asked you to lend me awhile ago, and you said you didn’t have one."

A third reason for Nega’im is to rid Eretz Yisroel of houses built by the Amorites for idol worship. They would build their homes and dedicate the cornerstone to their pagan god and to a demon spirit. Hashem did not want the Shechina to rest in an unclean land. These homes had to go. So Hashem placed Nega’im in the walls of these homes. This shows that these homes were unclean and had to be torn down and rebuilt as a home dedicated to Hashem. That is why new wood and stones, and even new dirt, had to be used to rebuild the home.

The forth reason for Nega’im was a happy reason. While Bnei Yisroel was roaming the desert for 40 years, the Canaanites knew that the Bnei Yisrael were headed to take over the land and rule over them. So what did they do? Hide their cash, of course! Many of the Canaanim built secret rooms in their homes and hollowed out their walls and hid their treasured posessions.

Now, eventually the Bnei Yisroel stopped marching in circles, entered Eretz Yisroel and crushed the Canaanim. As they took over the land, they inherited many beautiful homes that belonged to their enemies. Well, that was just fine! The Jews just hung a mezuzah on the door and called it home sweet home.

But Hashem promised their forefathers, that He would give the Bnei Yisroel, "Houses filled with all good" (Devorim 6,11) and not houses that are empty and cleaned out. That’s why Hashem provided a means by which Bnei Yisroel would find all the hidden treasures.

One day, Shmelkie the Tzadik, spots 'spots' on his house. He tries scrubbing the bricks, but it becomes all too obvious that his house has a case of Tzora'at! Shmelkie calls the local kohain. One brick is removed. Then two...then five. It's no use! Kuppie the Kohain calls in the Bait Hamikdosh bulldozers! All Shmelkie can think about is how will he rebuild the house he couldn't afford in the first place, and he didn't pay the Nega’im insurance premium because it was too expensive. (Of course, in his heart, Shmelkie knows that Hashem will help him).

Suddenly, as the walls come tumbling down, a secret brick panel is revealed! There, before everyone's eyes, is a chest of treasure - gold and silver, trinkets and jewels! Enough for this poor tzadik to rebuild his home and support his family for a lifetime. Now he can learn Torah full time!

See what I'm saying about this Tzora'at? It could also be a disease with a heart of gold!


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