What is hidden in the walls - Metsora

Friday, 12 April, 2019 - 10:20 am

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Once, Rabbi Gamliel sent his servant to buy him the best part of meat he could find in the marketplace. The servant came back with the tongue of a cow. He sent him back again, this time, asking him to bring back the worse part of meat he could find. The servant brought him again a tongue of cow. Rabbi Gamliel asked him how could it be both the best and the worse part of meat? The servant answered that the tongue could be both the best and the worse thing, depending on how we use it.

In this week’s Parasha Metsora, we learn about Tsaraat (often mistranslated as leper). Tsaraat was a disease that existed in the times of the Temple. It could appear on the walls of a house, or on the clothes or the skin of a person. According to Judaism, Tsaraat appeared as a punishment for evil speech. A house or a cloth that was affected by it and did not heal had to be destroyed. A person afflicted with Tsaraat had to be in quarantine, outside of the city until the disease disappeared from his skin, sign that G-d had forgiven him. It was not such a pleasant experience…

When the Jews were in the desert, G-d announced to Moses that upon entering the Promised Land, their houses will have Tsaraat. Why announce such bad news? Our Sages explain that it was in fact good news.

The Emorites who lived in Israel before the Jewish people had hidden their treasures in the walls of their houses. The Jews would never have found them. But G-d sent Tsaraat to the houses of the Emorites, so they had to be destroyed and the treasures were found.

Every Mitsva, besides for instructions on how to do it, also gives us a message for our everyday lives. What can we learn from Tsaraat?

People have a very powerful weapon: our mouth. We can do the worse with it, sow discord, destroy the self esteem of people around us, waste our time with blabla etc. Would it not be better to close our mouths forever and spend our days in silence?  

The name of the people of the Emorites, who lived in Israel, comes from the root “Emor” which means “speech” in Hebrew. While the Emorites symbolize all the negative things we can do with our speech, they had treasures hidden in their houses. This teaches us that it’s not enough to refrain from using our mouth negatively. We need to discover the treasures hidden there, if we use correctly.

We have a very powerful tool, our mouth. We can do the best with it, make peace, build up the self confidence of the people around us, make someone’s day by saying a good word and giving a little attention. We can also share our knowledge with others, like telling the story of Pesach at the Seder etc.

Let’s make efforts to discover the treasures we have in our mouths.

Shabbat Shalom,


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