A Faulty Soul

Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Parshas Tazria

You wake up in the morning and you notice a blemish on your hand. Your worst nightmare flashes before your eyes. You’ve seen the literature; you’ve heard the reports. It could be nothing or could be very bad. It may be superficial, skin deep, or it may be a manifestation of something very deep. It may be an outgrowth of inner disease that is manifesting itself on the skin. You immediately make an appointment with the doctor. You go through extensive testing, you don’t want to make a mistake. Hopefully it will require topical treatment, a cream, an ointment or a minor surgery. If it’s deeper, you have a serious problem on your hands. Is there a cure? Nobody knows for sure.

As it is in the body, so it is in the soul. When we find ourselves doing something we know we shouldn’t, what does it mean? Sometimes a very good person could do something that is very bad. Good person bad deed. It’s a topical problem. Sometimes doing the undoable is a sign of a deeper problem.  Not an incidental but a character flaw in the nefesh, in the person. Something to worry about.

Dovid Hamelech in Tehilim talks of when he was hiding in a cave and praying. He spilled out his heart. Tzarasi lefanav agid.  He talks to G-d about how he is being pursued and hunted. Then he says, "release my soul from confinement.” Physical problems aside, he soul was in confinement. His spirit stopped flowing, his prophecy locked up. This bothered Dovid even more then the peril of his life. His physical danger was in a way superficial, topical in nature but a fault in his soul was too much to bear.

What is a Metzora? The Targum translates “a blocked soul, a faulty soul”. He saw something he hoped was topical, he went to the Kohein and, Oh Oh, it’s deeper than the skin. The Kohein puts him through the tests. He detects gasos ruach, arrogance, negativity, loshon hara, slander. The Kohein declares, “Metzora!” Motzi Ra, this is not a skin problem, these symptoms indicate a faulty soul! This is going to need a lot of work. The problem is not what your doing the problem is what you are.

From time to time we all fall into the trap of aveira. We do things we know we shouldn’t. We needn’t always get alarmed. It’s probably topical. But when we find ourselves negative, jealous, arrogant and motzi ra, exuding negativity than it’s amok min haor, it’s time to worry. Lack of goodness indicate a faulty soul. The test of our humanity is the degree to which we are sensitive to other peoples suffering and the degree that we are capable of hurting another human being. We read the papers and see pictures of human beings suffering. Perhaps we say to ourselves they must deserve it. Perhaps we accuse them of war crimes. Maybe it’s even true. But at least we should feel. If you look at those pictures the same way that the world looked at the pictures of us standing in line to cross a border then it’s time for a visit to your kohein. Catch it fast and nip it in the bud.

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