Tzara'at and Torn Clothes by David Pietruszka


               There is a Posuk towards the end of this week's Parsha which discusses the issue of one detail relating to Tzoraas.  The Posuk says "והצרוע אשר בו הנגע בגדיו יהיו פרמים...," indicating, among other things, that a person inflicted with Tzoraas should tear his clothes (ויקרא י"ג:מ"ה).  The Midrash lists ten different crimes for which a person deserves the punishment of Tzoraas.  One is Avodah Zarah because once one engages himself in Avodah Zarah, it is very difficult to change his mind, it is therefore hoped that being afflicted with Tzoraas will help him do Teshuvah.  Another is sexual immorality, which is punished by Tzoraas because sexually improper behavior involves the misuse of one's body, and one is therefore punished by having his body afflicted.  We have an example of this earlier in the Torah when Paroh took Sarah to have sex with her and was inflicted with a terrible kind of Tzoraas (עיין בראשית י"ב:י"ז).  A third sin is Chillul Hashem, profaning Hashem's name, which is related to Avodah Zarah because acts of Chillul Hashem are the direct opposites of what one should be doing, namely acts of Kiddush Hashem; Chillul Hashem therefore needs a severe punishment such as Tzoraas that involves a person having to leave the community, and which will bring the person to do Teshuvah.  Another sin is Geneivah, stealing, which is an Aveirah that connects with Tzoraas as well because one who steals from someone in public (like by pick- pocketing someone) could almost never do Teshuvah because the thief has no idea from whom he is stealing so he cannot return the item; since he cannot live properly with people, he is given Tzoraas and is forced to leave the community.

               It is interesting to note that many of these sins are included in the Aseres HaDibros which, of course, represent all the Torah's Mitzvos in general.  Perhaps this connects to the idea that the person afflicted with Tzoraas must tear his clothes.  Clothing distinguishes man from the animals.  They are worn not only for warmth and protection, but also often to identify who a person is.  As Jews, we have certain special clothes that we have to wear both daily and on special occasions.  These  garments often reflect our commitment to Torah and Mitzvos.  One who rejects the Mitzvos and commits serious Aveiros must tear his clothes to demonstrate that his commitment is not what it should be.  When he does Teshuvah and his Tzoraas is gone, he may then dress like a normal Jew.

Tzara'at and Lashon Hora by Moshe Trinz

Our Past Sin by Naftali Rubin