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Perashat Tazria 5779

Home > Rabbi's Weekly Message > Perashat Tazria 5779

Perashat Tazria 5779

Friday, April 05, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

The two Parshiyot that lie ahead of us deal with the ins and outs of Sara'at. Commonly mistranslated as leprosy, Sara'at was actually a special spiritual malady that occurred when people of that time were speaking Lashon Hara excessively, or when they were exceedingly stingy.

The commentators point out that strangely enough the verse says:

  וְהָיָ֥ה בְעוֹר־בְּשָׂר֖וֹ לְנֶ֣גַע צָרָ֑עַת 
And it will be in the skin of his flesh the plague of Sara'at
The choice of the word Vhayah instead of Vayehi is difficult to understand, as whenever there is sad news the prefix of Vayehi is used. Conversely, Vhayah is reserved for happy occasions. What is happy about this plague?
I drive a Honda minivan. In my van there is something called Lane Keep Assist. "It is a feature that, in addition to the lane departure warning system, automatically takes steps to ensure the vehicle stays in its lane." It is a brilliant three-step system. As you first start to swerve out of your lane, the van console starts beeping. If you persist, the steering wheel starts shaking. And finally, as you are about to drive into the lane next to yours, possibly getting into an accident, the wheel corrects your path, ensuring you stay in your lane. Lives have, and are being, saved by this technology. Fantastic.

But this isn't a new system.
Sara'at too was designed to keep a people who were in a very high moral and spiritual level from degenerating and from swerving out of their lane and knocking someone else. It helped ensure that everyone could stay on their own journey, keeping their eyes and tongues to themselves. It started with a warning with Sara'at on the house - Beep. If that didn't get the person's attention, it progressed to Sara'at of their clothing - Shake. Finally if all else failed, Hashem would take the wheel and force the corrective measure of the affliction in the person's self - Turn. Each progressive step forced the person's eyes closer to their own life and circumstances. 

Our rabbis tell us that this system was a gift, and we as a people needed to be on a high enough level to deserve it! Sara'at was a good thing. I don't know about you, but personally, I'd pay extra for Lane Keep Assist technology.

Oh Happy Plagues!

May God bless us with lives exciting, fulfilling and meaningful enough to keep us interested in our own lane, and never feel the need to be peeking over the fence or down the insta-feed of anyone else. 
Maybe, just maybe, that is the life we already have.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

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