Tazria –

Advertising Makes an Impact
The Gemara in Eruchin 16a lists 7 reasons why a person would receive the spiritual ailment of tzaraas, “Rabbi Shmuel bar Namani says that Rabbi Yoanan says: Leprous marks come and afflict a person for seven sinful matters: For malicious speech (lashon hara), for bloodshed, for an oath taken in vain, for forbidden relations, for arrogance, for theft, and for stinginess.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

There is an entire process one must go through while in the state of impurity and to cleanse oneself of the ailment, which is spelled out in this week’s Torah portion of Tazria and continued into next week’s Torah portion. It says in this week’s portion,And the person with tzara’as, in whom there is the lesion, his garments shall be torn, his head shall be unshorn, he shall cover himself down to his mustache and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’” (Vayikra 13:45).

The Bechor Shor explains that by all types of spiritual ailments that are listed in the Torah the one afflicted is in mourning, for he is as if excommunicated by Heaven. His wife and children must separate from him, he must announce to everyone “tamei tamei” I am contaminated, I am contaminated, so that everyone will distance from him. This ailment was also contagious, so he or she had to be quarantined and sit alone outside of civilization. Our Sages have taught (Shabbos 67a) that he must announce his plight to the public so that the public will pray for mercy upon him. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Why should proclaiming to the world one’s contamination with your plight arouse mercy? Either way, one can either say this person is a terrible person, look what they did, whether it was murder, adultery, or even slander; why does he or she deserve for people to ask mercy on their behalf from G-D? On the other hand, one can really empathize with the sufferer and their family. He or she must be separated from their entire family, they must be devastated and worried, while he or she is in a state of mourning, showing genuine remorse for the sin committed. This ailment is also very painful, so no one should really wish it on anyone. If that is the case, then many people might feel bad and will be praying for their welfare. Either way, why should announcing the individual’s suffering to the world be the impetus to trigger feeling empathy and arouse others to ask for mercy from Hashem?

We see from here the power and effectiveness of announcements or advertising. The people who already feel bad will be inspired with even more mercy and compassion to pray harder. Indeed, it would seem that even those who had no interest in showing any compassion can be aroused and inspired to pray for mercy on the individual’s behalf.

Hashem wants the best for all his creatures, even for those who do wrong (as long as they show signs that they want to change for the better.) ,