Current Issue

 

Share

Search
BeisMoshiach.org
Web
Tags
#1000 #1001 #1002 #1003 #1004 #1005 #1006 #1007 #1008 #1009 #1010 #1011 #1012 #1013 #1014 #1015 #1016 #1017 #1018 #1019 #1020 #1021 #1022 #1023 #1024 #1025 #1026 #1027 #1028 #1029 #1030 #1031 #1032 #1033 #1034 #1035 #1036 #1037 #1038 #1039 #1040 #1041 #1042 #1043 #1044 #1045 #1046 #1047 #1048 #1049 #1050 #1051 #1052 #1053 #1054 #1055 #1056 #1057 #1058 #1059 #1060 #1061 #1062 #1063 #1064 #1065 #1066 #1067 #1068 #1069 #1070 #1071 #1072 #1073 #1074 #1075 #1076 #1077 #1078 #1079 #1080 #1081 #1082 #1083 #1084 #1085 #1086 #1088 #1089 #1090 #1091 #1092 #1093 #1094 #1095 #1096 #1097 #1098 #1099 #1100 #1101 #1102 #1103 #1104 #1106 #1107 #1108 #1109 #1110 #1111 #1112 #1113 #1114 #1115 #1116 #1117 #1118 #1119 #1120 #1121 #1122 #1123 #1124 #1125 #1126 #1127 #1128 #1129 #1130 #1131 #1132 #1133 #1134 #1135 #1136 #1137 #1138 #1139 #1140 #1141 #1142 #1143 #1144 #1145 #1146 #1147 #1148 #1149 #1150 #1151 #1152 #1153 #1154 #1155 #1156 #1157 #1158 #1159 #318 #319 #350 #383 #390 #550 #560 #594 #629 #642 #776 #777 #778 #779 #780 #781 #782 #783 #784 #785 #786 #787 #820 #823 #824 #825 #826 #827 #828 #829 #830 #831 #832 #833 #834 #835 #836 #837 #838 #839 #840 #841 #842 #843 #844 #845 #846 #847 #848 #849 #850 #851 #852 #853 #854 #855 #856 #857 #858 #859 #860 #861 #862 #863 #864 #865 #866 #867 #868 #869 #870 #871 #872 #873 #874 #875 #876 #876 #877 #878 #879 #880 #881 #882 #883 #884 #885 #886 #887 #888 #889 #890 #891 #892 #893 #894 #895 #896 #897 #898 #899 #900 #901 #902 #903 #904 #905 #906 #907 #908 #909 #910 #911 #912 #913 #914 #915 #916 #917 #918 #919 #920 #921 #922 #923 #924 #925 #926 #927 #928 #929 #930 #931 #932 #933 #934 #935 #936 #937 #938 #939 #940 #941 #942 #943 #944 #945 #946 #947 #948 #949 #950 #951 #952 #953 #954 #955 #956 #957 #958 #959 #960 #961 #962 #963 #964 #965 #966 #967 #968 #969 #970 #971 #972 #973 #974 #975 #976 #977 #978 #979 #980 #981 #982 #983 #984 #985 #986 #987 #988 #989 #990 #991 #992 #993 #994 #995 #996 #997 #998 #999 1 Kislev 10 Kislev 10 Shvat 10 Shvat 10 Teives 11 11 Nissan 112 Tammuz 12 Tammuz 13 Iyar 13 Tishrei 14 Kislev 15 Elul 15 Menachem-Av 15 Shvat 17 Tammuz 18 Elul 19 Kislev 2 Iyar 20 Av 20 Mar-Cheshvan 20 Menachem-Av 22 Shvat 24 Teives 25 Adar 27 Adar 28 Nissan 28 Teives 29 Elul 3 Tammuz 33 Tammuz 352 5 Teives 6 Tishrei 7 Adar 770 864 865 881 9 Adar 9 Av 9 Kislev 903 Acharei-K'doshim Achdus Adar Ahavas Yisroel Alef-Beis All Jews Shall Rise Alter Rebbe Amalek Argentina Arizal army Artwork Aseres HaDibros Australia Avoda Zara B’Chukosai B’Shalach Baal Shem Tov baal t'shuva Baba Sali Balak BaMidbar bar mitzva Basi L'Gani B'Chukosai be Bein HaMeitzarim Beis HaMikdash Beis Nissan Beth Rivkah B'Haalos'cha B'Har B'Har-B'Chukosai Birthday Bitachon Blindness Bo B'rachos Brazil brit milah Brussels B'Shalach chai v'kayam Chanuka Chassidic Rabbis Chayei Sara Chernobil chesed Chevron children chinuch Chitas Choshen Chukas Churban controversy convert Dan Diary of the late R’ Saadya Maatuf Dollars dreams D''varim Editorial Editor's Corner Eikev Elul Emor Europe Family Purity fire France free choice Gaza Gentiles Georgia Gulf War Gush Katif Haazinu Hakhel Halvayas Hameis HaYom Yom Hebron hiskashrus Holy Temple Honoring Parents Hospitality IDF Igrot Kodesh India Intermarriage Internet Iran Iron Curtain Israel Japan Jewish Refugee Crisis Kabbala K'doshim Kfar Chabad Ki Savo Ki Seitzei Ki Sisa KIDDUSH LEVANA Kiryat Gat Kislev kKi Sisa Kohen Gadol Korach korbanos KOS SHEL BRACHA Krias Shma K'vutza Lag B'Omer lashon ha'ra Lech Lecha letter Litvishe maamer Machatzis HaShekel mahn Mar-Cheshvan marriage Massei Matot Mattos Mattos-Massei Menachem Av Menora Metzora Mexico Miami MiKeitz MIkvah Mishkan Mishpatim Mitteler Rebbe Mitzva Tank Mitzvah Tanks Mivtza Kashrus MIvtza Neshek Mivtza T’fillin Mivtza Tefilin Morocco Moshe Rabbeinu Moshiach & Geula Moshiach Seuda music Napoleon Naso niggunim Nissan Nitzavim Nitzavim-VaYeilech Noach Noachide North Africa olive oil painting Parshas Parah parshas re'eh Parshas Zachor Pesach Pesach Sheini Pinchas Pirkei Avos P'kudei Poland prayer Prison prophecy Purim R’ Avrohom Schneersohn Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Rabbi Shlomo Galperin Rambam Ramban Rashbi Rashi Rebbe Rebbe Maharash Rebbe Rashab Rebbe Rayatz Rebbe Rayatz & Joint Rebbetzin Chana Rebbetzin Chaya Muska Rebbetzin Rivka Red Heifer Reform movement R'ei Rishon L'Tzion Rosh Chodesh Rosh HaShana Russia S’firas HaOmer Samarkand seifer Torah s'firas ha'omer Shabbos Shabbos Chazon Shabbos Hagadol Shabbos Nachamu shalom bayis Shavuos Shekalim shiduchim Shlach shleimus ha'Aretz shliach shlichus Shmini Shmita Shmos Shoftim shtus Shvat simcha Simchas Torah South Africa Sukkos summer tahalucha Talmud Torah Tanya Tazria-Metzora te Tehilim Teives Terror teshuva Tetzaveh t'fillin the omer the soul tisha b'av Tishrei Toldos Tomchei T'mimim Truma t'shuva tTruma Tzanz Tzav Tzedaka Tzemach Tzedek Tzfas tzimtzum Tzitzis Tzniyus Ukraine Upsherinish VaEira VaEs'chanan VaYakhel VaYakhel-P’kudei VaYechi VaYeilech VaYeira VaYeishev VaYeitzei VaYigash VaYikra VaYishlach Vocational Schools Winter women Yechidus Yerushalayim Yeshiva Yisro Yom Kippur Yom Tov Zohar Zos HaBracha. B'Reishis סיביר
Visitor Feed
Thursday
Apr112013

CHOOSE LIFE!

The answer lies in the deeper meaning of the word Metzora. It is said to be a contraction of two words: Motzi Ra, usually translated as “one who finds evil.” The conventional understanding is that the Metzora’s affliction is caused by his penchant to find evil in others. One may, however, suggest an alternate translation: “one who wishes to eradicate the evil” from oneself…

TWO SCHOOLS 
OF THOUGHT

There are two approaches to dealing with evil, both on the micro level and on the macro level. The first approach is to focus on the evil and its destructive power. The second approach seeks to accentuate the positive and allow the light to dispel the darkness.

The contrast between these approaches illustrates one of the salient differences between the ethical teachings of Judaism known as Musar and the spiritual dimension of Judaism, particularly the teachings of Chassidus.

Both approaches are rooted in the early teachings of our Sages and even in Biblical literature. As we shall see, these two approaches, and the Torah’s preference for the positive approach, are hinted at in the beginning of this week’s parsha (Tazria-) Metzora.

Before we address the hint in this week’s parsha, we will first cite the explicit references to them both in Biblical and Talmudic literature.

King David states in Psalm 33:

“Who is the man who desires life, who loves days of seeing goodness? Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”

In this Psalm it is not clear which of the two approaches is superior. Is it the turning away from evil, which is mentioned first? Or perhaps it is the doing of good, which follows the instruction to turn from evil in this verse, because it represents a higher level of spirituality?

Similarly, the Talmud (Brachos 5a) describes these two approaches to dealing with one’s own inner evil impulses:

“Rabbi Levi bar Chama said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish: A person should constantly provoke his Good Inclination [to wage war-Rashi] against his Evil Inclination, as it is stated, ‘Tremble [i.e., be provoked] and sin not.’ (Psalms 4:5).

“If he vanquishes it, fine. But if not, he should engage in Torah study, as it is stated [in the continuation of the verse], ‘Say in your hearts.’

“If he vanquishes it, fine. But if not, he should recite the Shma, as it is stated [there], ‘On your beds.’

“If he vanquishes it, fine. But if not, he should remind himself of the day of death, as it is stated [there] ‘And be utterly silent forever.’”

The Talmud outlined both approaches and alternated between them in this passage. First, it advocated provoking the Good Inclination into a fight with the Evil Inclination. As a last resort, it recommended invoking the memory of death as a way of jolting the person into shunning evil. Between these two “negative” approaches, the Talmud suggested the study of Torah and reciting of the Shma, which are positive approaches to dealing with one’s evil.

Again, it is not clear from this Talmudic citation which approach is the preferred and superior approach.

Throughout Jewish history, there were proponents of both approaches. However, with the advent of the Baal Shem Tov and subsequent leaders of the Chassidic movement, the positive approach was given a major boost. Indeed, this positive approach has, in recent times, been embraced by many other communities as well.

One can ask: why has our approach to dealing with evil changed in the last few centuries?

FOR THE CHILDREN

A Chassidic commentary, Ner Avraham, discovers a hint of the Chassidic perspective in the words of the Torah in the Book of Deuteronomy (30:19):

“I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life! Then you and your children will live.”

Commentators find the phraseology of this verse baffling.

First, does G-d give us death and curses?

Second, why was it even necessary to mention that the alternative to life and blessing is death and curse?

Third, why would the Torah have to tell us to choose life? Isn’t that self-evident?

The answer is that the Torah is actually prescribing two approaches to dealing with evil. One is to embrace the life-empowering study of Torah. The other approach is to focus on the reprehensible nature of evil and its deadly power.

Although, these are both legitimate approaches to the problem of evil, the Torah encourages us to “choose life.” In so doing, the Torah means that one is to vanquish evil by immersing oneself in the life sustaining teachings of Torah, rather than employing the element of fear and threat of death.

When a person combats evil with the Torah of Life and the Torah of Light, it renders the process of dealing with evil positive and joyous. It kills the two proverbial birds with one stone, it gets rid of the evil and it enhances our lives.

Moreover, our children thrive when they see our upbeat and positive demeanor. We model for them that living a Jewish life is a wholly positive and even exhilarating experience. By contrast, when a child sees an angry parent – one who is constantly fighting battles, albeit for the good – he or she can be “turned-off” to Judaism. Negative energy rarely attracts adherents.

It is to this end that the verse which exhorts us to choose life concludes: “Then you and your children will live.” When we adopt the transformative positive approach to evil, it gives life to ourselves and instills it in our children as well.

FINDING EVIL AND ERADICATING EVIL

Ner Avraham finds an additional hint to the Torah’s preference for fighting evil with life in the opening verse of Parshas Metzora, which discusses the manner in which a Metzora, a person afflicted with a rare skin disease, is to be purified:

“G-d spoke to Moses, saying: This will be the Torah [law] of the Metzora, on the day of his ritual purification, and he should be brought to the Kohen-priest.”

Or HaChayim questions the necessity of this introductory verse. The Torah could have begun discussing the purification rites of a Metzora by simply stating: “A Metzora is purified by coming to the Kohen etc.” Why the need to emphasize that “This is the Torah of the Metzora?”

The answer lies in the deeper meaning of the word Metzora. It is said to be a contraction of two words: Motzi Ra, usually translated as “one who finds evil.” The conventional understanding is that the Metzora’s affliction is caused by his penchant to find evil in others. One may, however, suggest an alternate translation: “one who wishes to eradicate the evil” from oneself.

Let us cite the verse once more and interpret it in light of the foregoing novel translation of the word Metzora:

“This will be the Torah [law] of the Metzora, on the day of his ritual purification, and he should be brought to the Kohen-priest.”

Now we can see that the Torah alludes here to the person who wishes to rid himself of the negativity that caused him to see the negative in others. This he can do by employing the positive approach, namely through the study of Torah.

IMMEDIATE RESULTS

There is another significant difference between the two approaches: If the negative approach works it is fine, but if it doesn’t work it can actually cause one to become depressed, leading to even more negativity in that person’s life. Depression leaves one vulnerable to all sorts of transgressions inasmuch as it suppresses the person’s spiritual immune system. By contrast, even if one’s study of Torah does not succeed in eradicating one’s negativity, Torah study itself is an intrinsically positive and worthwhile experience. It is not just a means to an end, it is also an end.

This explains the concluding words of the Parsha’s verse: “On the day of his purification.” One of the benefits of following the positive approach to overcome evil is that some of its beneficial effects are immediate. Thus, states the Torah, the purification is affected on that very day.

MOSHIACH: THE ULTIMATE 
POSITIVE APPROACH

The Talmud informs us that Moshiach is also referred to as a Metzora!

On the surface this designation for the most spiritual individual is puzzling.

One possible explanation, in light of the above, is that Moshiach is the ultimate eradicator of evil and negativity.

How does Moshiach accomplish the goal of ridding the world of war and hatred, among other vices and forms of negativity? His primary force is the study and teaching of Torah. Moshiach, in addition to being the ultimate leader, is also the consummate teacher of Torah. According to the Kabbala, Moshiach’s uniqueness as a Torah teacher is that he will impart the most esoteric aspects of Torah to all.

What distinguishes the esoteric parts of the Torah from all the other teachings of Torah?

The Kabbalists explain that the revealed parts of Torah deal with the realities of our world. Thus, this part of Torah is called the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” It is the Divine Blueprint for changing a world that is a mixture of good and evil. The teachings of Kabbala and Chassidus—and especially the teachings that will be revealed by Moshiach—by contrast, are referred to as “the Tree of Life.” It is Torah in its most pure, pristine and positive state.

The Torah thus informs us that Moshiach, the Metzora, will bring about the “day of purification”, i.e., the Messianic Age, primarily, by teaching Torah.

We can now understand the emphasis of the Chassidic movement on the positive approach and the reason why it has been adopted by so many in recent times. One cited explanation is that we have been so crushed by the harshest exile conditions that following the negative approach would destroy us and set us back even more. We cannot afford to become depressed.

However, in light of the above, we can see that there is a much deeper explanation for the Chassidic emphasis on the positive approach, and its virtual universal acceptance. As we get closer to the Messianic Age, we must prepare for the time when the exclusive approach will be the positive one—through the study of the most positive manifestation of the Divine knowledge.

 

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.