Jewish Tradition does not believe in coincidence. We believe that every event and its timing has a meaning. Of course, most of the time we are not able to understand the relationship of different events happening either together or around the same time. Instead, we attempt to explain the juxtaposition of events based on our own humble understanding; not necessarily based on G-d’s understanding. Perashat Tazria-Messora (Tahor) almost invariably falls around the Israel Independence Day Celebrations. What is the connection between the Perasha and the celebrations?
The Perasha speaks about the “spiritual” skin illness that manifests itself as lesions on the skin, in part or even over the entire body. These lesions can also appear on one’s clothes and even throughout one’s home. Our Sages warn us that this disease is not a physical one, despite the physical appearance of the lesions. It is strictly a spiritual disease that appears only due to Lashon Hara – evil gossip, slander and defamation of someone’s name. Where the lesions may appear, depends on the severity and amount of repetition of the violation. Starting on one’s home, then on one’s clothing, then on one’s covered part of the body, then on open parts of one’s body, and lastly on one’s entire body. The gradual rate of appearance is meant to give the person an opportunity to cease and desist from speaking gossip, slander, or being a talebearer. The leper cannot decide for himself the gravity of his lesions; he needs to show it to the Kohen – Priest, to be declared pure or impure from his disease.
How appropriate is this Perasha then, during the time of the celebration of Israel’s Independence! This week, we celebrated the State of Israel’s 70 years of existence, and over 4,000 years of history. It is an achievement that no other nation on Earth can claim. Yes, there are many other nations that have centuries of Independence, with a few millennia of history. None of them however, can claim the continuity of such history, with their contemporary independence.
Israel has, in such a short time, reached great achievements. Some of the many areas these achievements can be found are, technology, science, social sphere, arts and military, and most importantly in the area of morality and ethics. Yet, it is the only country in the world that unjustly and unfairly is the recipient of so much slander, gossip, condemnation and defamation. No other nation or country in the world is treated with such a double standard. Nations that have an abysmal record in human rights, in military ethics and in respect for human dignity are the first ones who will speak evil about Israel. Even while they are violating the rights of their own citizens, they are quick to condemn Israel.
Indeed the leper cannot see his own blemishes and so these nations project these blemishes onto Israel. They cannot accept responsibility, so they deflect their responsibility onto Israel. Furthermore, they cannot admit their own shortcomings, so they deflect those shortcomings onto Israel.
Perashat Tazria -Messora (Tahor) is an exhortation of what these nations and world organizations can expect if they all insist on slandering, disparaging, defaming and condemning Israel. Their blemishes will start in their homes, will continue within their clothing, and will move onto their bodies. Ultimately, their blemishes will be seen by everyone.
Let us hope they will begin learning their lesson during the first stages.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.