Parshat Metzora 5784: Slander, Arrogance and 7 October

Dear Friends;

This year’s Parshiyot Metzora vort is being sponsored by Mutti and Michele Frankel and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated Lillui Nismas Michele’s grandmother, Sandy Kramer’s mother Rachel (Rose) Bat Aharon Kahn, as well as dedicated for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages and that they’re brought home whole physically, mentally and spiritually as well as for the good health and security of kol Am Yisrael. To the Frankel family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt

Parshat Metzora 5784: Slander, Arrogance and 7 October

by Moshe Burt

In most years, our Parsha Metzora is normally the twilight side of a Torah doubleheader parsha. But this is one of those Adar Bet years where these two inter-related Parshiyot each stand on their own.

To quickly review, the term “metzora” as expressed by R’ Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, in the new Hirsch Chumash (published by Feldheim in 2005 and translated to English by Daniel Haberman):

Metzora, … Motziya rah [transliteration of the 2 words which form Metzora], a slander.

We learned last week in Parshat Tazria that unity, between individual Jews, as well as on a national level, was role of the Kohen (Priest), whose very essence and “inherent trait throughout the generations” has been unity. (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in “Growth Through Torah”, page 253 citing the Rabbi of Alexander)

But, in this vort, this author concentrates on what’s behind a person’s slander or arrogance, particularly as it relates to current events. Rabbi Zelig Pliskin brings two important points, with Torah quotes and commentary in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” which are particularly pertinent to our times — the run-up to 7 October and to these very days. (Growth Through Torah, pages 260 – 262) :

Focus on your own faults and you will not speak against others.

“And the Kohen shall command to take for him who is to be purified two birds alive and pure, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop.” (Rabbi Pliskin rendering to English Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 4)

Rashi notes the reason birds were taken for the process of purifying the Metzora was because birds constantly chirp. Since Tzora’at comes from speaking Loshen Hora, which is a matter of chattering, the Metzora needed birds for his atonement.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments… that the Torah is giving us a key insight into what lies behind a person’s speaking against others, A root of the problem is that the person keeps on talking without thinking about what he is saying. Just as birds keep making noises, so too is this person just making a lot of noise.

Rashi cites the Sages that cedar symbolizes arrogance because Tzora’at comes from arrogance. What is the cure for the person that he shall be healed? He should humble himself, which is symbolized by the scarlet that comes from the lowly worm and by the small hyssop [noun: any of several aromatic herbs belonging to the genus Hyssopus, of the mint family, especially H. officinalis, native to Europe, having clusters of small blue flowers].

The Chofetz Chayim commented on this that one of the major reasons a person speaks Loshon Hora is because of arrogance. Someone who speaks against others views himself as above other people and therefore feels he has a right to say negative things about them. If he were aware of his own faults and limitations, he would not seek out the faults of others. (Rabbi Pliskin citing Shmirat HaLoshon, part 2, Metzora)

Arrogance implies a lack of awareness of the Almighty.

“And the Kohen shall take one lamb and offer it for a guilt offering….” (Rabbi Pliskin rendering to English Sefer Vayikra, Perek 14, posuk 12)

The offering that the Metzora brought was an Asham, a guilt offering. This is the offering one brings when one is guilty of desecrating that which is holy. The reason for this is that Tzora’at comes for speaking negatively against others and for arrogance. Both are aspects of desecrating the Almighty… When a person is arrogant, it implies a lack of awareness of the Almighty. When one is truly aware of the infinite greatness and power of the Almighty, it is impossible to be arrogant. One is so small in comparison that as soon as one reflects on this, he will automatically have humility. By bringing the offering of the Asham, the Metzora gives thought to how he has previously lacked a proper awareness of the omniscience and omnipotence of the Almighty and will begin to internalize this understanding, (Rabbi Pliskin citing based on Sforno)

Although we do not have offerings in our time, by reading about the offerings we should internalize the messages that they teach us. The message here is that we should be very careful with what we say about others because the Almighty hears us. …We should be aware of how small and powerless we all are in comparison to the Creator and this will prevent us from becoming arrogant.

The Sochaczever Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein, z”l adds one poignant sentence regarding the metzora in his sefer “Shem Mishmuel,” page 249) :

However great we may be, we may still be truly humble by realizing the majesty and perfection of Hashem…

In light of the catastrophic fiasco and apparent negligence of intelligence of Simcha Torah, 7 October, and the days preceding it, as well as perhaps right up to the moment (this vort written four weeks ago), the High Command of the Israel Defense Forces, apart from the heroic and valiant Chayalim on the field of battle, as well as certain individuals and certain other politicos and former prime ministers seem to need to internalize the discussion of both Tazria and Metzora. It appears that there is endemic [adjective: natural to or characteristic of a specific people or place; native; indigenous] slander and arrogance among the military High Command and certain others in feeling superior to, or, as the Chofetz Chayim puts it, above other people and therefore they have a right to say negative things about others. At the same time, they apparently acted neglectfully by intimidating and threatening subordinates who were reporting on Hamas preparations for war, bypassing reporting the imminence of war to the current prime minister as well as a rumored possibility of conspiracy by the generals and possibly a former prime minister regarding the war as a tool for overturning the current government and prime minister.

While these types have, by their slander and arrogance, done incalculable damage to Israel’s national security, military credibility, and damaged Israel on world stage, they have also desecrated the Name of the Almighty. They need to be made aware of and internalize the Halachot of the Metzora, and do big-time Teshuva!

May it be that our Chayalim emerge totally victorious — eradicating Hamas, their terrorist buddies and the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza who joined with Hamas in their murderous deeds, and that the Chayalim return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages. And may we see the restoration of true unity within Am Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and brought home to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and continues in a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia as well as the US and Canada, the real Jews via matrilineal descent, make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.