Pay it Forward by Shimon Berman


While discussing the process of the Kohen checking a man for potential Tzaraat, the Torah states, “VeRaah HaKohen Et HaNega BeOr HaBasar VeSeiar BaNega Hafach Lavan UMareih HaNega Amok MeiOr Besaro Nega Tzaraat Hu VeRaahu HaKohen VeTimei Oto,” “The Kohen shall look at the affliction on the skin of his flesh: If hair in the affliction has changed to white, and the affliction’s appearance is deeper than the skin of the flesh— it is a Tzaraat affliction; the Kohen shall look at it and declare him contaminated” (VaYikra 13:3).  While this Pasuk may seem very straight forward, it both opens and closes with the same action, namely that of the Kohen seeing the Metzora, an apparent repetition not compliant with the general theme that there are no extra letters or words in the Torah.  Why does the Torah record this seeming redundancy?

The Meshech Chochmah explains this redundancy by giving each phrase a different purpose. This first time the Pasuk refers to the Kohen looking at the Nega, the Torah is alluding to the fact that the Kohen must check if the Nega qualifies as actual Tzaraat, thereby deeming the Metzora Tamei. The second examination is another form of checking the man, which is conducted irrespective of whether or not he was fit at the time to become Tamei.  The Meshech Chochmah writes, “Aval Yeish Re’iyah Acheret…SheEinah Keshurah BaNega, Ela BaIsh UBaZeman,” meaning that the Kohen had to view the person—his characteristics and his personal condition—and whether being Tamei would be appropriate at that point in time. The Meshech Chochmah quotes the Halachah (Moed Katan 7a-b) that a Chatan during his week of Sheva Berachot and any person celebrating one of the Shalosh Regalim would not be declared Tamei until after the Simcha had passed, so as not to spoil the Simcha.  These acts of kindness on the part of the Kohen are not random, but serve to teach a lesson to the Metzora.  The Gemara (Eirachin 15b) states that the Negaim of a Metzora result from seven actions, Lashon HaRa being the most well-known of them. The sin of the Metzora was not just that he shared a juicy bit of gossip, but that he was quick to judge others in an unfavorable manner and then spread this negative opinion to others. The Kohen’s kindness teaches him to look favorably at the actions of others. By experiencing kindness, the Torah hopes that this Metzora will then pay it forward to others.

The Light of Mitzvot by Nachi Farkas

Special Time, Special Place by Mr. Moshe Glasser