Saturday, April 09, 2011

Metzora: Tzora'at and Gold, Exile and Redemption - ASAP

Did you ever have a bad day? Did you ever have a good day? Did you ever stop and think that these days are a package deal?

The Maharal explains that galut - exile and geulah - redemption are one process. Though galut seems exclusively bad and geulah seems to be the good aftermath, it’s not that simple.

The Jewish people descended – according to the Zohar – to the forty-ninth level of impurity and would have been spiritually lost if they fell any lower. The Zohar explains that we had to be taken out of Mitzrayim quickly (bechipazon) or we could never have gotten out. The question arises: Why didn’t G-d just take the Jews out earlier, before they were on such a low rung? Then there would be no compelling reason to rush the exodus.

The deeper meaning behind why we had to descend to the forty ninth level of tum'ah and then be rushed out is that galus is part of geulah;the falling down and the rising up are part of the same progression. This is similar to the purification that occurs inside an egg before the chick develops, each is part of the creation process and if the egg was opened either early or late the chic would not be created. This applies to the past exile of Egypt, to the future ultimate redemption, and to our daily struggles with our personal Mitzrayim/meitzarim (straits). The dark and light times connect and the changeover happens at precisely the right moment.

In Parshat Metzora the laws of how tzara’at affects a house are introduced ; “When you come into the land of Canaan, which I will give to you as a possession, and I shall cause a leprous mark to develop on a house of the land of your possession…” (Vayikra 14:33) . Rashi addresses the connection made in the text between tzora’at in the home and entering the land of Israel. Rashi tells us that when the Jews found tzora'at in their home they had to tear down the walls. Inside the walls were hidden treasures of gold. What's the meaning of this?

Perhaps the idea is that to get to the gold in life you have to break through walls, messy walls. Tzora’at seems like a negative thing and is famously explained as a punishment for lashon harah. Rashi adds another dimension. Tzora’at was a gift on the way to a gift. The first stage of getting to the gold, treating the tzora’at by breaking down the walls was clearly an unpleasant experience. Reaching the end, when riches were revealed, was most certainly a time for celebration. The two were part of one whole. The tzora’at was needed to find the gold.

Bad days precedes the good ones. Galus precedes the Geulah. Tzora'at precedes gold.

May we be blessed to recognize our own exiles and afflictions as part and parcel of our redemptions and cures. May we reach the end of the process of individual, communal, national, and universal redemption as soon as possible.


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