(Torah Portion Metzorah) The Children!
The Torah is very demanding on us to be extra vigilant to refrain from speaking ill of others. Two Portions of the Torah are dedicated to describing Tzoraas maladies that come upon a person, his clothing, or his house as a result of his loose chatter regarding the negative qualities of others.
Interestingly, the only way to determine if a person who is afflicted with this spiritually motivated malady is impure or pure, is through the assessment of a Kohain. The Kohain’s one word, Tamai – impure – sentences him to excommunication, and his one word, Tahor – pure – exonerates him.
Commentators point out that the reason the one word uttered by the Kohain determines his fate is to underscore the power and capacity of the expressed word.
Currently, when we do not have our Temple in Jerusalem, the malady of Tzoraas, which prevented a person from speaking ill, is not manifest. This places a greater challenge on us to refrain from speaking ill of others.
Our Sages tell us something very interesting – When one speaks ill of another (when it is not under permitted circumstances) all the sins of the person he speaks about are transferred to the speaker and all the merits that the speaker has are transferred to the one who was spoken about! If one is mindful of this, it will help and assist him to control his urge of speaking ill about another.
So it goes like this; there is a person who you are not thrilled about in the first place and you really wish to share something negative about him. But then you stop and think to yourself, “If I proceed and speak Lashon Harah, I am going to acquire all his (many) sins, and he will be bestowed with all my many merits – it is really worth it? ”
The Shabbos that precedes Pesach is called Shabbos Hagodol. At the end of the special Haftorah that is chanted, the last prophet of Israel, Malachai forecasts that Elijah the prophet will eventually herald the Moshiach at which time there will be a massive Teshuva – repentance – movement where parents will be able to positively influence their children to follow the dictates of the Torah and when children will inspire their parents to embrace the laws of the Torah.
I recently read an article that captures the prophet’s model. “In his closing remarks to an audience of over 1300 Jewish teens in Montreal, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (no relation to me) shared a story about his father, an immigrant to Britain who had to leave school at a young age in order to help support his family. Rabbi Sacks recalled walks home with his father from synagogue as a child. He would ask his father questions about Judaism – Why this? And why that? His father would answer the same answer every time: ‘I never had a Jewish education, so I cannot answer your questions. But, one day you will have the education that I never had and when that will happen, you will teach me the answers to those questions.'”
Instead of falling into the trap of covering his lack of knowledge of Judaism by giving his son excuses, his father empowered his young son and motivated him to take advantage of his Jewish education and to inspire his own father. As a result as chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth he eventually impacted on many multitudes.
Each year, my friend Dr. Barry Mittelman of Florida sends me a collection of notes on the Hagaddah, which he gleans from a collection of Hagados.
One idea he shared from Rabbi Shlomo Carlabach o.b.m., really touched me He asks why do we break the Matza at the beginning of the Seder, and why do the children bring back the broken (Afikomen) later in the Seder?
Says Reb Shloma, the broken Matza represents the “brokenness” of the world. There are so many broken hearts, …broken lives, …so many tears. We live in a world of “Yachatz” Brokenness.
Do you know who is going to repair and fix this fractured world, and bring it back to it wholeness?
It is the children! The children will bring back the broken piece to make the world whole again!
The focus of the Seder is certainly on our children and grandchildren. On Pesach, at the Seder, parents transmit our traditions, beliefs and rich history to the next generation.
For this to be a most effective life lesson and Mitzah, some prior preparation, study and reading is in order.
We have time! Pesach is in a week! Let us instill our rich and sacred values and traditions into our families and thus help herald Elijah who will generate our final redemption with the arrival of the Moshiach!
Wishing you a most enjoyable Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks