Our Sedra, Metzora completes the explanations we began last week of a person who has been inflicted with Tzaarat (a horrible disease usually as a result of speaking badly about others.) We learn details of the purification procedure that one would go through to rid themselves of any impurities. We also read about how one’s home could be afflicted with the same disease. Some houses could be purified, but others would need to be demolished, under the trained andsensitive eye of the Cohen.
Today we do not have Tzaarat and other such afflictions, which although ghastly to deal with, would serve as both deterrent and, of course, punishment for slanderous and demeaning speech. For us, we cannot always see the effects of what we say, and how our words can have such disastrous consequences.
Our Sages teach us that the First Temple was destroyed because of three major sins; Murder, Idolatry and Adultery. These horrendous crimes undermine the very faith we seek to uphold and cherish. The Second Temple however, was destroyed because of baseless hatred between man and his friend. The Jewish People of that time did not truly understand the effects of their words, and their slander had devastating consequences.
It is easy for us to sit back and say that was then, it was a long time ago and we are different today, but the Talmud reminds us that, every generation that does not merit seeing the reconstruction of the temple, it is as if they themselves destroyed it. Therefore we must take note of these serious crimes, and learn from their lessons.
In the run up to Pesach we spend weeks clearing out our houses, looking for every speck of Chametz that could possibly exist. Chametz consists of two basic elements flour and water and when mixed together with a fermenting agent it rises – becoming inflated dough.
This is what we endeavour to rid our homes of for Pesach. We can use the search for Chametz as a character lesson for ourselves. Chametz represents our ego – if we let our ego and arrogance “puff up” and get in the way of our friendships and relationships it can destroy them.
Often when we speak about others, our words mask our own insecurities. We look outwards at ‘them’ as opposed to looking inwards at ourselves. The famous Rav Dessler who was a major Rabbinic Authority in England describes “Lashon Harah” as a division amongst people, by people, promoting themselves at the expense of others.
This important lesson is not just for Pesach, but for the entire year. We must, as a nation, endeavour to rid ourselves of our ‘inflated’ sense of self, negate our ego and work on our inner essence. Hopefully with this lesson we can improve our relationships of with those around us, and merit the Temple to be rebuilt in our days.