Tazria-Metzora 2020 by: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
And the Leper was Cured
In this week’s Parsha we learn about the cure of the leper, and about the process of his purification, allowing him to reenter the encampment of Israel after a period of being quarantined outside this encampment. This process of purification involves taking two birds, slaughtering one of them and sending off one of them. According to our Sages, these birds indicate the will of the leper to atone for the sin of improper speech, hinted to by the chatter of birds. We may also note that speech is closely related to the respiratory system as it says that Hashem “blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and he (man) became a living spirit” and Onkelos translates this to mean that man became a “talking spirit.” Our Sages also tie the respiratory system to the wings of birds, saying that the lungs have five (or six) “wings”, which also correspond to the five books of the Torah. Of course, reading the five books of the Torah is also a powerful spiritual usage of speech to such an extent that the Kabbalists say that when reading from a Torah scroll one may awaken supreme Divine intervention from the highest spiritual spheres.
Going back to the causes of leprosy we see that our Sages draw a direct parallel between the sin of improper speech and the leper’s quarantine outside the encampment. They say that because this man slandered against people, causing rifts and distances between them, therefore he is distanced away from the rest of the populace. In non-leap-years, we always read this Parsha about the leper in conjunction with the beginning days of the Omer when the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva passed away in plague due to disrespect to each other. Therefore, when we read this Parsha we should have in mind to rectify this blemish of disrespect, which distances between people, and enhance our respect and appreciation for every Jew in preparation towards the Giving of the Torah, “when all Israel were united as one,” at the end of this Omer period.
Through the process of purification described in his Parsha, the leper is purified and leaves his quarantine. This purification involves species and actions that, according to our Sages, hint to emphasizing the traits of humility, self-abnegation, along with carefulness in speech, as mentioned above.
When Israel entered the Land of Israel, the walled cities of the Land of Israel took the place of the “encampment” in the Wilderness, expressing the high spiritual status of these walled cities [see Mishna Kelim ch. 1]. Therefore, only from these walled cities was the leper distanced from. It is evident that one of these walled cities was Hebron. Aside from this, it is also clear that Hebron represents the rectification of the leper, for Hebron is the City of Unity [hibur] uniting our People through their common roots in the light of the Holy Land, to which Hebron is so much attached – “who is like Your People Israel, one People in the Land.”
Miracles from the Holy Land: The Attack on Degania
Shortly after the Independence War, nearly all of the Syrian forces stationed at Tel al-Qasr used two hundred armored Syrian vehicles including forty-five tanks to attack Israel’s oldest kibbutzim; Degania Alef (“A”) and Degania Bet (“B”). With no artillery, about seventy Israelis (most of them were kibbutz members which means they were not regular fighters) had virtually no chance of blocking a Syrian advance, but they wouldn’t go down without a fight. When the tanks approached Degania Aleph, the minimal Israeli forces began to throw Molotov cocktails and behold, an Israeli soldier made a direct hit on the first approaching Syrian tank. Suddenly, the entire Syrian column was turning around and fleeing, possibly believing that Israel had a large multitude of anti-tank weapons. When the Syrians hit Degania Bet, the Israelis were incredibly low on weapons, but quickly assembled two ancient French cannons and used them well against the Syrians’ 75 mm cannons, and 60 and 81 mm mortars. The use of Israel’s little artillery must have really taken the Syrians by great surprise. Why else would they retreat when they had Israel outgunned and outnumbered? Sometimes, the best explanation is the simplest one. Miracles really do happen.