Check It Out

(Torah Portion Metzora) Check It Out!

Mold, mildew, and water stains are a major annoyance for any homeowner; the hassle with dealing with the insurance adjuster, contractor, the mess and expense.

The Torah speaks about different kinds of stains that would appear on the interiors of people’s homes specifically in the Land of Israel; it was called a Nega.

These stains were not conventional discolorations, they were distinct in their look and when they appeared on the walls of one’s home, he didn’t call the insurance representative; rather, he went directly to a Kohain – priest, to ask him to check it out. If in fact there was a problem the Kohain would pronounce the home as Tamei- ritually impure.

The Torah, interestingly, directs the person as to how he should relate his problem to the Kohain. He is to say, “Something that looks like a Nega is apparent to me in my house”.

Our Sages teach us that even if one is well learned in the laws of Nega colorations, he is not to say to the Kohain, “There is a Nega in my house.”

Why not?

There are varied approaches: One should not say with certainty that it is a Nega, because once one pronounces something in a negative way, the ‘Satan’ can be awakened and actually change the situation to be as the person had grimly predicted.

Additionally, it is possible that when the Kohain hears the person say there is a Nega in my house, the Kohain may take a more stringent approach and condemn the house to be destroyed, since the person was already convinced it was a Nega.

Perhaps the Torah is also teaching a lesson to the person presenting his problem to the Kohain. “Don’t express that it is a Nega with absolute certainty. Rather, choose words that give you the option for favorable results.”

Although the Torah is dealing with the laws of Nega, these lessons are applicable to practically all situations and challenges that we may face. We may derive the following ideas: 1) It is best not to express negative assumptions; these often become self-fulfilling prophecies. 2) One who hears a pessimistic estimation may lose objectivity in his assessment. 3) Think and speak with a positive attitude.

When the Kohain came to the house and found markings resembling that of a Nega, he cordoned off the house for a week. If the markings remained, he would remove the stones, mortar and earth that were infected and replace them with clean material. The Kohain then cordoned off the house for an additional seven days after which he went back to see if the Nega returned. If the markings did not return, the house was cleared for the return of occupants. However, if the Nega did return, the house was razed.

A few additional practical lessons to be learned; Even when things are not looking too great, ‘the markings on the home looked like a Nega,’ the Torah gives a week’s time for the owner and his family to have the opportunity to repent and pray that the Nega would not return.

Hope and spiritual connectivity is an essential element for things to work out well. Even if the Nega does return and the house had to be torn down, our Sages tell us that during the excavation of the house, treasures that were hidden by the prior Cannanite inhabitants were often found.

This treasure was not compensation for the loss of their house; a Nega visited a home because stinginess and the sin of Lashon Hara, speaking ill of others, was prevalent in the home. Rather, this windfall of treasures was destined to come to this family in any event – because that’s what was determined by G-d’s judgment on the previous Rosh Hashana.

The heart of the matter is: how does one receive his boon, in a respectful manner or a disrespectful manner?

Through the laws of Nega the Torah tells us that people affect the method of their receiving their destined wealth. If a lack of respect towards others is shown through speaking ill of them, then one’s gain will come through difficulty.

However, if respect and sensitivity for the dignity of others is practiced in the home, then the bountiful blessing will come in a blessed and respectful way!

Wishing you a restful, peaceful and enjoyable Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family