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Chumash

Parasha

Metzora

Revealing the Good Hidden Within the Bad

Shilo Hagar

Writer:

 

When you come to the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as a possession, and I place a lesion of tzara'at upon a house in the Land of your possession… [Vayikra (Levitcus) 14:34]

 

Chazal (Our Sages) deduced from the verse’s wording that "ארץ אחוזתכם מטמא בנגעים ואין חוצה לארץ מטמאת בנגעים" (“The ‘Land of your possession’ is susceptible to the impurity of tzara’at, but not other lands”) [Mishna, Nega’im 12:4].

The question which arises is why the laws of tzara’at of houses apply exclusively in Eretz Yisrael.

Rashi, quoting Midrash vaYikra Rabba, provides an answer, commenting on our verse:

 

"בשורה היא להם שהנגעים באים עליהם (ת"כ פרשתא ה:ד) לפי שהטמינו אמוריים מטמוניות של זהב בקירות בתיהם כל ארבעים שנה שהיו ישראל במדבר וע"י הנגע נותץ הבית ומוצאן"

 

It is good news for the Israelites that tzara’at will affect their houses, because the Amorites had hidden away treasures of gold in the walls of their houses during the entire forty years that Israel wandered in the wilderness, and because of the lesion of tzara’at, the house will be demolished and the gold will be found.

 

That is, the laws of tzara’at of houses were given, because when the houses are to be demolished [Vayikra, ibid. 43-45] the treasures hidden within the walls by the Amorites will be found by the Israelites. Thus, the laws apply exclusively to houses within Eretz Yisrael, since only there were treasures hidden within the walls of houses.

 

 

Revealing the Good Hidden Within the Evil

 

Upon reflection, we can see a deeper meaning to the Midrash’s comment. The Midrash presents a situation which has two components; the external component is tzara’at, while the internal component is the hidden treasures. The goal is to reveal the treasures, but that is achieved through tzara’at.

 

What lesson is to be learnt from the fact that God created the situation in which treasures will be found through tzara’at rather than in a more pleasant manner?

We may suggest that this matter teaches us that we are obligated to reveal the good which is hidden within the bad. When we encounter something which, by its outward appearance, seems negative, we must search and attempt to reveal the positive aspect inherent in that matter.

  

The Unique Attribute of Eretz Yisrael

 

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook z”tl teaches that the obligation to reveal the good hidden within the bad applies especially in Eretz Yisrael, and adds that this is connected to the Land’s praise as ארץ זבת חלב ודבש “The Land flowing milk and honey.” Based upon the Talmudic statement that milk and honey are pure (kosher), despite originating from impure (non-kosher) sources [Bechorot 6:7], the Land is praised specifically for these things, since she has the power to purify the impure. In Eretz Yisrael we have the ability to not be put off by the outward appearance of impurity, but to perceive the internal, positive aspects which turn bad into good.

 

Building up the Land is an example of this principle. Prior to the establishment of the State, many Jews ascended to the Land in order to make its deserts blossom. The Land had many swamps, which the pioneers dried out and where they built their settlements. Had they merely seen the external aspect of the Land, they would not have dried the swamps; but they saw the internal dimension of the Land, they believed that, internally, the Land had great power to blossom, and they therefore worked hard, and with God’s help, turned the Land into productive farm land.

The ability to perceive the internal aspect of all things and events and to reveal the good hidden within them is a great principle in the life of the Nation of Israel and in the lives of each individual within the nation. May it be God’s will that we realize this trait.

 

We learned that the laws of tzara’at of houses apply only in Eretz Yisrael because it was only there that treasures were hidden in the walls of houses and finding these treasures requires destroying the houses.

 

We learned that Am Yisrael (the Nation of Israel) has the task of seeing the internal aspect of things and revealing the good hidden within the bad and turning evil into good. This is the unique power of Eretz Yisrael. We cited the example of the pioneers who dried the swamps.

May it be His will that we follow in this path.This is [good] news for them that lesions of tzara’ath will come upon them, (Torath Kohanim 14:75), because the Amorites had hidden away treasures of gold inside the walls of their houses during the entire forty years that the Israelites were in the desert, and through the lesion, he will demolish the house (see verses 43-45) and find them. — [Vayikra Rabbah 17:6]This is [good] news for them that lesions of tzara’ath will come upon them, (Torath Kohanim 14:75), because the Amorites had hidden away treasures of gold inside the walls of their houses during the entire forty years that the Israelites were in the desert, and through the lesion, he will demolish the house (see verses 43-45) and find them. — [Vayikra Rabbah 17:6]This is [good] news for them that lesions of tzara’ath will come upon them, (Torath Kohanim 14:75), because the Amorites had hidden away treasures of gold inside the walls of their houses during the entire forty years that the Israelites were in the desert, and through the lesion, he will demolish the house (see verses 43-45) and find them. — [Vayikra Rabbah 17:6]

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