Friday, April 11, 2008

Parshas Metzora - "When Speaking Is Chirping"

QUICKIE/FUNFACT: *Regarding the Korban tof a wealthy person the Torah says, "The Kohen brings him atonement. (14:20) Regarding the offering of the poor person the Torah states, "To bring him to atonement before G-d." (14:29) Why does the Torah word it so differently, especially with a slight implication that the wealthy person receives complete atonement while the poor person is on his way but not completely there yet?

The Meshech Chochma points to the fact that according to our Sages, Tzaaras comes as a result of haughtiness. The haughtiness of a wealthy person, while wrong, is at least somewhat understandable. The Torah itself describes people becoming wealthy and haughty. (Devarim 8:13-14) However if a person is acting conceited, there is no explanation for this other than bad character. Thus, the Torah indicates that his atonement is not yet complete with the oil being placed on his head.

* From R' Dov Lipman Shlit"a

(14:4) "Then upon the priest's instructions, one bird should be slaughtered (allowing its blood to fall) into an earthenware vessel (containing) spring water."

Commenting on this Pasuk, Rashi describes the messeges behind each of the objects used to purify the person with tzaaras. The birds and the wood are symbolic of the causes of tzaaras; gossip and haughtiness. The crimson wool and the hyssop are metaphoric for the remedy to tzaraas, humility.

Rashi when talking about the birds emphasizes that by the fact that the Torah says that the birds must be "tahor" it means that they must be kosher birds. It seems rather odd however that Rashi decided to tell us this. Isn't there a Kal VaChomer (one of R'Yishmael's 13 characters of learning) that can be applied here. If we can't eat non-kosher animals than it takes a tremendous amount of chutzpa to offer a non-kosher animal to Hashem. There must be a different reason as to why the Torah says that a person must bring a "tahor" bird. That reason is "because lesions of tzaraas come as a result of gossip, which is done by chattering. Therefore this person is required to bring birds for his ritual purification, which twitter constantly with chirping sounds."

The Torah therefore uses the terms, "live" and "pure" to tell us about two aspects of gossip that bring tzaraas.

a.) The content of the gossip. Gossip is impure speech which maligns another person. Therefore, to remove tzaraas, a pure kosher species of bird must be brought, hinting that the person's speech from now on must be totally pure.

b.) The manner of the gossip. In addition to the content of the gossip, the manner in which gossip is carried out is also sinful. For a person tends to gossip incessantly, with energy and enthusiasm.

For this reason, the only sacrafice that could be brought to purify and cure the gossipmonger is a bird that is not treife, i.e a bird which is not terminally ill and thus lacking energy. This hints to the person that his sin was not only that of gossip, but furthermore, that of "twittering constantly." And furthermore, his gossip was with energy and enthusiasm - "with chirping sounds."

*From the Toras Menachem in the Gutnick Chumash.


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