By Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
This parsha teaches us about Torah leprosy, which our Sages consider to be the outcome of slander. From the severity of this matter, we begin to understand how destructive slander is to human society and to the peace and unity within its fabric. So our Sages say: “since this leprous man caused distance between man and his wife and fellowman, so too he will be distanced [in quarantine] from his wife and fellowman [in the Torah regulations for quarantine for a leprous person].” The Kabbalists explain that the reason white is seen on the skin of a leper is due to the fact that white represents the attribute of kindness which is lacking from such a person who spoke slander against his fellowman, and therefore this kindness is, in a sense “shouting out” its disharmony in his being by being noticeable on his skin.
In this painting, we see an emphasis on the theme of unity, seen by the figures grouped together, along with the theme of kindness hinted by drops of water, a symbol of kindness according to the Kabbalists. Above the figures, we see twelve drops, apparently hinting to the twelve tribes united together here. From these figures emerge five hands to the right and five hands to the left. This may refer to the Kabbalistic concept of five aspects of kindness associated to the right, and five aspects of judgment associated with the left. These hands seem to represent the reception of the Divine blessing, as such is the custom to open one’s hands towards the heavens to represent receiving Divine blessing when saying the verse “poteach at yadecha etc.” We see these figures within a circle. The Kabbalists explain that a circle represents how every line from the radius is equal, versus other shapes where this is not so. This matter stresses the theme of equality which is also a conduit to unity, a central theme of this painting, as we just mentioned. Among these figures we also an angelic figure in hues of yellow and green, considered colors associated with the sefira of tiferet, a “unifying” sefira. The angel seems to convey the “angelic/holy” status met through unity and peace. We also see here a pomegranate, which may hint to the inclusion of also the relatively spiritually “empty” in this unity, as our Sages said “even the spiritually “empty” of Israel are full of mitzvot like a pomegranate [is full of seeds].”
Above we see 42 drops, a matter that seems to indicate a theme of fruition through unity, since, according to the Kabbalists, both a drop and the number 42 carry this theme [“mab zivugin”]. This image may convey the heavenly blessing that comes through unity. Also it seems that the Menora here, considered by our Sages to be a symbol of the Holy Presence, may convey that the Holy Presence also rests through unity.
Of course, Hebron is a clear sign of unity, as its name – “hibur” – indicates, and also in virtue of its being the common roots of our entire People and even of all mankind through Adam buried here. Let us breathe in its inspiration and build bridges of thought, speech, and action within our People, thereby inspiring all mankind.