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Home » Metzora, Tragedy

Metzorah: Oh No My Home

Submitted by on April 10, 2016 – 12:57 amNo Comment | 1,209 views

He Doesn’t Care

Tragedy strikes. You are coming home from work and your house is engulfed in flames. It burns to a crisp and everything is gone. You are inconsolable; Oh no my Home! Your friends comfort you. They point out that no one was hurt and the family survived unscathed. But its hard, O’ so hard, to see the positive, when you are engulfed in a conflagration of negative.

There is pain and loss, but mostly there is resentment. Dear G-d, I know that a million dollars is like a penny to you. To you, my house means nothing, but what about me? To me, it was my home, my palace; where my children lived, where we thrived. How can you be so uncaring, so insensitive? G-d, this is me. Your devoted and loyal child. What have I ever done to you, why me?

Don’t tell me to think of the positive, when the negative is overwhelming. That’s like a thief who steals the family jewels and tells me to be grateful he didn’t take the silver. That’s what you call a gift? It’s theft, that’s what it is. G-d, I always trusted you, believed in you and now you betray me? Why?

The Writing On The Wall

Our Parshah paints a similar scenario. A Jew in ancient Israel comes home and sees unusual red or green blotches on his wall. He asks a neighbor, who tells him that his home might be afflicted with the terrible disease Tzaraas. How can I fix it? He asks. There is no solution, he is told, the house will need to be demolished. With a heart full of trepidation, he invites the Kohen to diagnose the blotches and to his horror, the Kohen confirms that it is indeed Tzaraas. What is the man’s first thought? Oh, no my home!

There is a human element to this tragedy. The Torah speaks of it so matter of factly. In dry tones, the Torah instructs us to demolish the house as if there is nothing wrong with this scenario. But there is! To the family that lived here, this is a tragedy. Oh no, my home! Their broken hearts turn on G-d and they cry bitter tears. How can you let this happen? Don’t you even care? Have you ever cared?

Insignificant Utensils

The primary complaint is that G-d is too big to care about the little guy. Of what significance is the entire universe to an infinite G-d? If the universe is not significant, how can one planet be significant? How can the human race be significant? How can one particular human and his insignificant little house be important to G-d? We get the feeling that He is too big to care.

But wait, something doesn’t add up. Before the Kohen enters the house, he instructs the family to remove everything from the home. Why? Why add insult to injury? They are soon to possibly lose their home; must they suffer the indignity of piling their furniture on the street?

The Talmud explains that if the house is condemned, everything in it will be contaminated. To spare the family further loss, the Torah instructs the Kohen, not to even enter until the house is cleared.

What kind of items are we concerned with? If it were clothing or metal or wooden items, furniture or utensils, they could be purified through immersion in a Mikvah (ritual bath). There is no need to suffer indignity when the defilement can be rectified. If it’s food and drink, they could be eaten while their owner is impure and everyone suffers impurity on occasion. What then is the concern? Small earthenware items that cannot be purified though immersion in a Mikvah.[1]

He Cares

Let’s take a moment to think about this. G-d tells the Kohen to let a possibly contaminated house sit unmolested in the Holy Land, a land that cannot tolerate unholiness, because He is concerned for earthenware utensils. Something doesn’t add up. G-d cares about insignificant utensils made of cheap easily replaced earthenware? He cares enough about them to let an unholy house sit unmolested in the Holy Land?

Is this the same G-d that is too big to care for the loss of an entire house? How can G-d care about the loss of an insignificant utensil and be uncaring about the loss of an entire house? Is it not somewhat offensive to tell the owner, I don’t care for your house, but I will worry about your utensils?

Unless we have been wrong all along. G-d is not too big to care. G-d is not uncaring. G-d cares very much. His proverbial heart cries for the loss of human possession. Only finite beings can be too big to care about little things. G-d is never too big. G-d is everything. He is finite and infinite. He is not too big for the finite; the finite is part of Him. G-d is bothered by the utensil and the house, in equal measure.[2]

Why then does He allow the house to be destroyed? The answer must be because He cares. Not because he doesn’t care.

Treasure

Our sages taught that the Emorite nation would bury treasure in their walls and that sometimes when houses were condemned with Trzaraas and destroyed, the Jews would find the buried treasure.[3]

Now this did not happen every time. It only happened on occasion. But we are told about this because there is something to be learned by everyone. When G-d allows something bad to happen, it is only on account of enormous good that will come from it. What that good is, we may or may not find out in this life, but in the afterlife, we will certainly know.

Loss for gain, is always acceptable. If you want to buy a suit, you are willing to part with your money. The loss of money is more than compensated by the gain of the suit. If you want to heal from illness, you must suffer the pain of recovery. Pain of illness is hard to suffer because there is no discernable benefit. Pain of recovery is easier because every stab of pain tells us that recovery is on the way.

The Talmud tells us that treasure was found amid the ruins to help us realize that there is purpose and gain in all pain. The ones, whose gain we know and the ones, whose gains we don’t. We know the gain of recovery pain, we don’t know the gain or illness pain, but just because we don’t know it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

We never suffer for nothing. G-d did not allow the destruction of the home out of apathy. G-d allowed it for the tremendous treasure that the homeowner would accrue from it. If he was fortunate, he merited seeing the treasure in his lifetime. If not, he would discover it with time.[4]

 

[1] Menachos 10a. See also Rashi on Leviticus 14:36.

[2] If G-d can be bothered about a utensil, He can be bothered about a Home. If he can’t be bothered about a utensil, He can’t be bothered even by the universe, let alone the home. He is either bothered by things smaller than Him or not. That He worries about the universe tells us that He also worries about the utensil.

[3] Vayikra Rabbah 17:6. See also Rashi on Leviticus 14:34.

[4] Based on commentary from Reb Moshe Alshich (Toras Moshe) and Maharam Shick on Leviticus 13:34.

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