Tazria and Metzora – Combat Weapons Against Sin

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The spiritual ailment of tzaraas is the main focus of the double portion of Tazria and Metzora. This punishment is normally associated with the sin of lashon hara, slander. The Medrish Rabba in parshas Metzora shares a deterrent from speaking lashon hara, when it says that there are 5 times the word “Torah” was written in connection with tzaraas to teach us that anyone who speaks lashon hara transgresses the five books of the Torah and therefore Moshe warned the Jews, “This will be the Torah (law) of the metzora.” The Maharz”u quoting the Ba”al Akeida points out that in each of the Five books of the Torah, there are discussed episodes of lashon hara, or the transgression itself of lashon hara. We see from this how impactful the sin of lashon hara is through out the Torah, and the grave ramifications of transgressing such a sin, which is equivalent to transgressing the entire Torah; and who would wish to do such a thing G-D forbid (Vayikra Rabba 16:6).

However, lashon hara is not the only sin which is punished with tzaraas. The Medrish Rabba lists and proves that there are in fact 10 sins punished with tzaraas: (1) Idolatry, (2) incest (3) murder, (4) chilul Hashem, (5) cursing Hashem, (6) stealing from the public, (7) stealing honor from someone which is not yours, (8) haughtiness, (9) lashon hara, and (10) ayin hara, the evil eye, meaning not sharing anything with others (Vayikra Rabba 17:3).
The Medrish Tanchuma in parshas Tazria makes a very interesting observation which results in another two deterrents of sin which not only apply to lashon hara specifically or this list of ten sins in general, but really for any sin. “Another interpretation of ‘A person who has on the skin of his flesh’. Why didn’t it say, ‘Speak to the children of Israel” as it writes by all the other portions, instead it wrote ‘a person’? This refers to what the pasuk says, ‘For You are not a God Who desires wickedness; evil does not abide with You.’ (Tehillim 5:5). Because the pasuk states, [I] say, ‘My counsel shall stand, and all My desire I will do.’ (Yeshayahu 46:10). Whoever hears this pasuk might say, maybe there is a distortion of justice in Heaven. Rebbe Tanchuma said, what does ‘and all My desire I will do’ mean? He does not desire to castigate any creature, as it says ‘For I do not desire the death of him who dies’ (Yechezkel 18:32). This means, You are not a G-D who desires wickedness. (The Etz Yosef explains that since Hashem does not desire wickedness therefore, He did not mention “B’nei Yisrael,” rather “a person” because He did not want to associate them with bad.) What does ‘evil does not abide with You’ mean? Rebbe Yochanan said that King David said to Hashem, ‘Master Of The World if you seek to exonerate your creatures who is stopping You, as it says ‘Inasmuch as the King’s word is the rule, and who will say to Him, “What are You doing?”’ (Koheles 8:4)? Who is greater than You? It is the custom in the world that a governor who sits in judgement and wants to sentence innocence or guilt, he is afraid of those higher than him, that they won’t say anything bad about him, if the litigant doesn’t like the sentence he will go to the local senator who is of higher stature and if he doesn’t like that he will go to the prime minister and from there all the way up to the king, each one has a higher status then the next. The king fears no one, and You, The Master Of The World, if You want to exonerate your creatures who do You fear, ‘evil does not abide with You,’ meaning You don’t fear evil, as it says ‘For I was frightened of the wrath and the fury’ (Devarim 9:19)” (Medrish Tanchuma parshas Tazria, paragraph 7).
Hashem didn’t want to associate the state of tzaraas with the Jewish people because it’s a bad thing and He did not want His children to have any connection to it; therefore the Torah writes “a person who has on the skin of his flesh a blemish etc.” Surely Hashem is not playing a game, and making believe Jews cannot get tzaraas, if they do something wrong surely, they deserve to be punished. The Medrish itself in fact says, Hashem would not distort justice! Also, what was King David saying that Hashem has no fear to exonerate everyone? Again, wouldn’t Hashem the All-Powerful and truthful only do what is right? What then is the message of this medrish?

We must say that of course Hashem would never distort justice, but He is distraught when man sins and would rather see him immediately repent or actually avoid sinning to begin with. We see from here how much Hashem feels bad over the punishment of His creatures especially His close children, the Jewish people. To the point that Hashem did not even want to reference Bnei Yisrael with receiving tzaraas.

Realizing and imbibing into ourselves the “pain” Hashem feels when being forced to punish His children when we make mistakes should be an impetus to avoid doing wrong, coupled with the belief that Hashem has the ability to do whatever He wants and is always doing what is right and best. This, if on our minds constantly should deter us from sinning.