Neccessity of Peace by Sasha Hourizadeh


            In this week's Parsha, the Torah states: "If a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh the plague of Tzaraat, then he should be brought to Aharon the Priest, or to one of his sons the priests" (Vayikra 13:2).

            The Rabbi of Alexandria commented on this verse: the Sages state that the affliction of Tzaraat is the punishment for speaking Loshon Hara.  People often rationalize the speaking of Lashon Hara with the excuse that they are telling the truth.  The speaker might further claim that he would never speak Lashon Hara without elevated intentions and that he is in fact performing a Mitzva.  Although his intentions may sound justified at first, his actions cause much hatred, quarrels, and pain.  Why should such a person be sent specifically to Aharon the Priest?

            One of the traits of Aharon was that he did everything he could to make peace between people. He even exaggerated and told untruths in order to bring about peaceful relationships. Whenever a quarrel ensued, he would tell each party that the other was sorry and really thought highly of him.  Upon hearing this, he would begin to feel positive about the person he was quarreling with.  In the end, both parties would become friends and Aharon's job was complete. One lesson that Aharon would tell people who spoke Lashon Hara was, "Do not justify your actions by claiming that you want to publicize the truth. Do the opposite; do all that is in your power to help people feel love for one another" (Rabbi Gross and Rabbi Pliskin 235).

            A story is told about a widow who lived in a rented apartment in Bnai Brak.  A quarrel arose between her and her landlord over an amount of fifty Lirot (which in those days was a large sum of money).  The widow claimed she did not owe the money and refused to pay.  The owner of the apartment took her to a secular court which ruled that she must leave the apartment.  Policemen immediately forced the widow out and threw all her furniture on to the street.  Some people felt sorry for the widow and were ready to fight with the landlord.  However, just in time to avoid that situation, someone suggested that Chazon Ish be consulted.

            Both parties agreed to discuss the matter with the Chazon Ish and to follow his directive.  The people who accompanied the widow were furious at the lack of compassion of the landlord and did not conceal their anger when they spoke on her behalf.  Then the landlord gave his version of the situation.  He claimed that the widow owed him the money, and he had no choice but to act the way he did.  To the surprise of those standing there, the Chazon Ish's response to the landlord was, "You are right; you are right."

            Those who came with the widow remained silent, even though they were shocked over the Chazon Ish's concurrence  with the landlord.  Then the Chazon Ish called over each of the sides separately and convinced each of them to give in a little, in order to work out a compromise.  He would hold the widow's money and would pay the landlord as she moved back into the apartment.  He did this by convincing the widow to pay fifteen Lirot. The widow believed that the landlord was willing to give up thirty-five Lirot.  The Chazon Ish got the landlord to accept forty Lirot as payment.  Meanwhile, the Chazon Ish borrowed twenty Lirot which he would pay back little by little.  Neither the landlord nor the widow realized that the Chazon Ish was paying a portion of the money himself.

            After the two left, the Chazon Ish spoke to those who came with the widow and explained why he publicly appeared to agree with the landlord.  "The landlord has a weak heart, and if his integrity would have been questioned, it might have killed him.  I was forced to sound as if I agreed with him even thought he acted improperly, because we must still save his life" (P'air Hador vol. 3 pages 161-62).

The Looks That Count by Eli Levin

Brit Mila by Ariel Daube