Monday, May 7, 2012

Tazria Metzora - A Curse Becomes a Blessing

This week we read a double parsha, Tazria Metzora. Folks, I can learn any dvar Torah about these parshiyot (weekly portions) and hear any inspirational word, but for my entire life, IY"H, there is one memory of these parshiyot that will stand out above any other.
For many years my youngest two children (sometimes with the aid of their older siblings) used to put on a skit for us about the parsha every Friday night. They split the sea. They climbed an angel's ladder. They saved Lot. They were heroes and villains and even inanimate objects.
When the Friday night of Tazria Metzora came about, my little girl was a leper who was brought to the Kohen (the priest) in order to look at the affliction on her skin. He took one look at her arm, and said with great joy, "Mazel tov, you have tzaraat." (Congratulations, you have leprousy!!) 
Never before or after has our family burst into such spontaneous and hysterical laughter.
That said, I'd like to repeat part of a dvar Torah given at the table this week by my son HaRav Moshe Eliahu Katz.Any mistakes or omissions are totally mine. So excuse me in advance.
Moshe Eliahu explained that one of the reasons that a person's house becomes afflicted with  leprosy is because the homeowner was a selfish miserly person. If someone had asked him to borrow anything, he would have said, "No." He might have said that he did not have the item, or couldn't find it.
As a punishment, his home was afflicted and he was forced to take everything out of it. All the neighbors who were denied anything from him would soon see that he indeed had all those items, but wouldn't share them.
Moshe Eliahu also noted that sometimes when afflicted homes were torn down, the owners found gold (hidden by the previous Canaanite inhabitants) in the walls or underneath the foundations.
Moshe Eliahu asked, "Why would G-d grant such a treasure to a person who had been stingy and selfish?"
He explained that the stingy man is punished, sent out of his house (if he reenters, he becomes impure and must be separated from others and purified), his home is scraped or taken apart brick by brick. The man has suffered humiliation and isolation for his selfishness. He has learned a powerful lesson. Moshe Eliahu asked, "Now, what man would be more worthy or do better deeds with new-found gold?!" 
Of course, he told it better. But he was totally right.
Sometimes in life, bad things happen. But if we learn our lessons from those bad things, sometimes if we are very determined to understand our errors and right our wrongs, a bad thing can become a blessing.