Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Nissan 5765 - April 13, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
"He Shall See with his Eyes and his Heart, He shall Understand and Return, and He will be Healed"

by L. Jungerman

"This shall be the law of the leper on the day of his purification, and he shall be brought to the Kohen" (Vayikra 14:2).

The Torah relegated the whole future of the leper to the hands of the Kohen. He must examine the lesion; his is the crucial decision. His word purifies or deems impure. This teaches us that the proper treatment of the sin of the leper can only be implemented through the Kohen. We know that leprous lesions [meaning tzora'as] are a result of and punishment for loshon hora. If so, then the suitable antidote must come, precisely, via the Kohen. Why is this so?

The Sheloh Hakodosh and the Chasam Sofer reveal an inkling of the enigma of the esoteric wisdom of the Torah. The Sheloh writes: "If there shall be in a man, in the skin of his flesh — the raiments of priesthood are designed for honor and glory, and they resemble the tunics of light that replace the tunics of leather."

These concise, mystic words of the Sheloh are quoted and elaborated upon by the Chasam Sofer in his work Toras Moshe. "Hashem made leather clothing for Odom and Chava and garbed them therewith. Onkelos translates the term `leather clothing' as `garments of dignity.' Odom sublimated the leather and purified it until they became `garments of light' [a play on the word or, spelled with alef or ayin]. They became precious garments. The same wording is used describing the bigdei kehuna: `And they shall make holy raiment - - comments Onkelos — garments of dignity.'

"This sinner, who was punished with leprosy, failed not only in transforming the `leather garments,' that is, his own clothing, into `garments of light,' garments to enhance the divine image of man, but he even mutilated his own flesh through the consequences of his evil speech, causing it to be afflicted with leprosy. Let him, therefore, take a lesson from Aharon HaKohen and see the difference between the two.

He, the sinner, abused the skin-covering of his flesh and contaminated it. Whereas Aharon HaKohen perfected himself and purified himself to a level where he merited raiments of dignity and glory. Even his sons, all future kohanim, merited this by virtue of their ancestor's virtue and holiness, yet their purity is ongoing, sustained, whereas he, the sinner, defiled his own very skin."

The Chasam Sofer transports us to a deeper level of understanding. He reveals before us the long-range implications of every worthy deed and, conversely, every sin. Each act makes an impression. Each act leaves its mark — not only upon the soul but even upon a person's body. Just like a good deed purifies the soul, so does it cleanse the physical body of a person. He becomes more refined, more spiritual and less grossly material. On the other hand, not only does sin pollute the soul, but it even leaves an imprint upon the body. It leaves it crass and coarse.

After Odom Horishon sinned by eating from the Eitz Hadaas, he was clothed with leather garments that Hashem fashioned for him. His own epidermis needed repair, a tikkun, since the sin had defiled and contaminated him. The leather tunics were designed to restore his origin aura. Chazal say that in R' Meir's sefer the word or (which is spelled in our sifrei Torah with an ayin) was spelled with an alef. These first leather garments were supposed to help Man regain the glow his body had once radiated as the handiwork of Hashem. This is why Onkelos translates kosnos or as `garments of dignity.'

We encounter the same translation with regard to the priestly raiment. "Garments of holiness — garments of dignity," for the kohanim were uplifted and purified through wearing them to such a degree that the impact filtered from their souls to their bodies, which radiated with holy light. To signify this, the Torah designates them as garments of dignity and glory. "Thus shall be done to the man whom the king/King desires to honor."

This is why the atonement for the leper must come about through the Kohen. The Torah is a Torah of life. Punishment for sins is not revenge, G-d forbid, but rather reparation and repair. "Good and straightforward is Hashem; therefore does He guide the sinners on the path' (Tehillim 25:8). `You have shown the path of repentance to the wayward daughter.'

Thus, if a person sinned with his mouth and lips to such a degree that his skin becomes blemished with leprosy, he is shown the righteous path by the Torah so that he may mend his way. "This shall be the law of the leper, and he shall be brought to the Kohen." Go to the Kohen and you will see the disparity between you. Fulfill with your soul what was written: `And you shall return and you shall see the difference between righteous and sinner, between one who serves Hashem and one who did not serve Him.' Look, regard the Kohen, and contemplate how he has purified himself to such a degree that even his corporal body has absorbed the impact that holiness has made upon him. The refinement of his deeds has left an impression even upon his very flesh and blood. His body has become clarified, purer, finer and, consequently, more dignified. This is testified to by the raiment of glory and dignity which garb him.

In contrast, how lowly are you, the sinner, you who spoke forbidden talk and did not bear in mind what is written, "Do not allow your mouth to sully your flesh with sin." Your flesh and blood sensed the deterioration and estrangement that took place in your soul; an impression was imprinted upon your gross flesh, and the skin which should have radiated the aura of the Divine image was dimmed, extinguished, dulled. Your image is darkened, obscured, and has caused your skin to sprout blemishes and lesions.

This shall be the law of the leper. The entire Torah upon one foot, so to speak. He shall be brought to the Kohen, who will examine and determine to what extent the damage has been made, and to implement upon his soul: "This shall I impart to my heart, therefore do I shudder..."

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