To Each His Own by Rabbi Joel Grossman


This Shabbat we read Parashat Tazri’a and Parashat HaChodesh, the fourth of the special Parashiyot. Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L in his Bastion of Faith finds a connection between them. The Torah writes, “Ki Yihyeh BeOro Michvat Eish VeHayetah Michyat HaMichvah Baheret Levanah Adamdamet O Levanah,” “When he has in his skin a burning by fire, and the flesh of the burning becomes a bright spot, reddish white or white” (VaYikra 13:24).

Rashi quotes a Gemara in Chulin (8a) which states that the signs of a burning and the signs of a boil are the same; yet, the Torah treats them differently to indicate that they are not combined with each other for the purposes of declaring Tzara’at. Rav Moshe explains that these plagues were not physical occurrences but were rather born out of the miraculous events which occurred during the time of the Beit HaMikdash and came about in order to make the sinner aware of a sin and repent properly. Since a boil is due to a wound whereas a burning is due to fire, a burning would evoke greater spiritual awakening since its source is more dangerous and the intensity of a plague is directly related to the severity of the sin.

Logically, then, the two cannot be combined, since they are qualitatively different and should bring forth different responses. Even today, when we don’t have these plagues, any pain we may experience should serve to alert us to our actions as the Gemara teaches that nothing happens by chance. It (Chulin 7b) states, “A blade of grass doesn’t move on Earth unless it was decreed from Heaven.” Hashem is everywhere and every little event occurs in a precise way, often with a message hidden within the method of delivery.

This concept is connected to the upcoming month of Nisan. Nisan was chosen to be the first of the months since the redemption came during this month, and clearly showed to all that Hashem is involved in all earthly events. This Parashah teaches us that Hashem continues to run the world.

It is important for both parents and teachers to understand this message. One cannot speak to everyone equally. Different people have different needs. Some may have only slightly erred a and need correction, while others have made much more significant mistakes. Those who can’t tolerate harsh speech must be gently spoken to explaining what they did wrong, but at the same time, building up the individual. If the child or student can accept strong words and be motivated by them, then it may be appropriate to speak in a strong manner.

May we learn this lesson and put it into practice with our children and students and may this month of Nisan fulfill the Gemara in Masechet Rosh HaShanah (11a), “In Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nisan the future redemption will come,” and let us be able to bring the Korban Pesach in the Beit HaMikdash.

Guarding Your Tongue by Zev Jarashow

Understanding Hashem by Binyamin Jachter