Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tazria/Metzora: Applications For Today

While the terms tahor and tamei are ordinarily translated as ritually pure and impure, a more accurate description of tumah would be something which "spiritually restricts and confines". Each of the various forms of tumah brings a different degree of restriction upon the individual, varying in severity depending on the level of his indiscretion.

Let's explore how these states and their specific correlating restrictions relate to us and our Avodas Hashem today when we no longer keep the laws of tumah and tahara.

Last year's posts:

The Tamei Meis

One who comes in contact with a dead body is rendered tamei meis and is restricted just from going into the Beis Hamikdosh, called "the Camp of the Shechina". A tamei meis may continue to reside among the rest of Klal Yisroel.

Someone who has come in immediate contact with death, if he's normal, should be contemplative. The stark encounter with mortality should elicit reflection about the implications of that mortality. The Torah wants us to experience a period of ritual restriction not because there is something wrong, but because we should use the experience to review and reorder our lives. It can make one sad, maybe resentful, but by the same token, it can be made a very positive and constructive experience. Either way, there is an inescapable sadness about the fact that we are mortal, and, until he gains clarity, there is also a profound confusion about what one wants out of the remaining days he has in a physical body.

The Machane Shechina is not a place for sadness. Its also not a place for people who don't know where they are going.

The tamei meis is therefore excluded from the place of the Shechina. However, they may enter the Machane Leviya for the tribe of Levi represents Torah. "Techias hameisim min haTorah." If your interaction with Torah is healthy then the Torah restores simcha, you gains clarity, and you acquire a sense that while the body is indeed moribund, but the Jewish neshamah is immortal. It's from time spent in the Machane Leviya that you can step back into the Machane Shechina.

The Zav and Zavah

Another form of tumah is zeeva which manifests itself as an unpleasant genital disease. A person who has contracted this form of tumah must stay out of the Beis Hamikosh and, in addition, may not go into the Levite Camp either.

Most seforim indicate that the cause of zeeva is excessive indulgence in appetites and desires. Such a person doesn't belong in the Machane Leviya/Torah because a person has to make up their mind. Do you want to lead a life of self-control, discipline, of reasonable appetite? If you study Torah while you are immersed in the pursuit of pleasure, that Torah will be warped. It isn't going to be healthy; if anything it will become rancid.

As the Gemara says, the same Torah - the same words and ideas - can be either an elixir of life or a virulent poison. It becomes a poison when its processed through someone who wants to burn the candle at both ends.

You can't be two things at once - "When one rises, the other falls." There is an inverse relationship between self-indulgence and kedusha. Holiness is a product of discipline, priorities and usage of the physical world in reasonable and healthy ways.

Those who don't understand that dynamic should not be in the Machane Leviya; they are not currently capable of using Torah constructively. A zav, therefore, is excluded from the camp who can apply Torah properly. He remains in the Machane Yisroel so he can restore his values and perspective and from there he can hopefully launch himself back into the Machane Leviya.

The Metzora

The most commonly spoken about cause of tzaraas is lashon hara, but the Gemara (Arachin 16a) lists a total of seven possible causes: lashon hara, false oath, murder, illicit sexual relations, arrogance, theft and stinginess. A person who has committed one of these offenses must leave the entire encampment of Klal Yisroel and remain on the outskirts of the city. If the city is walled like Yerushalayim, for instance, he must remain outside the walls of the city (like in the Haftara for Parshas Metzora.)

The person who has bad middos, the one who is jealous, arrogant, slanderous and maligning, doesn't belong in the camp of Israel either. Such behavior is the antithesis of everything that serves as the basis of a holy nation. The only appropriate place for him is outside the camp.

Only once he is outside of everything, alone, does he ask himself whether or not he wants to be part of Klal Yisroel or not. He must ponder that question until he comes to the realization that he can absolutely no longer cause friction and divisiveness, hurting others, and remain a part of a society of G-dly people.

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DamesekFan said...

Did the Rabbi zol zayn gezunt, share this with you this week or is this formulated from different sources?

Damesek said...

This piece was given over yesterday (4 Iyar/April 26) by the Rebbe in its entirety. The Rebbe also read the write-up and made a couple of amendments.

A gitten Shabbos!